by Danielle Truen
Networking is a crucial element in job searching. Approximately 80 percent of job openings are never openly advertised (known as the hidden job market). Therefore, to find those “hidden jobs," you need to be actively networking. And to help you get started, we put together a list of some of the best tips and tricks to get your network growing.
First - Leverage your current network
It's a small world - you're connected to more people than you think. Leverage your network by tapping into current and or past relationships to begin making secondary or tertiary connections. Maybe you have an old friend who knows someone in your industry of interest or can help during your job search process. Whatever it may be, take advantage of those situations and start collecting contacts from your inner circle.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is the largest online professional networking platform and can be a powerful tool in building a brand for yourself. Making it a great tool in a job seekers toolbox - as long as it's not your only one. Unsure of how to start making connections? A good place is to reach out to your current network and reconnect with those you have lost touch. From there, you will be able to see connections you may not have known about and can start reaching out to your connections for help. It’s also a great place to share relevant content related to your profession or industry of interest, creating a brand for yourself while highlighting your personality. It also shows that your knowledgeable about said industry and can draw connections to you.
Embrace the process like a job
When you are networking, it is crucial to plan out your day and set realistic goals on what you wish to accomplish. Although everyone’s goals are going to look different, some examples to get started could be building your profile/brand, improving a specific networking skill, or brushing up on some industry-specific knowledge. Big or small, setting goals is always a fantastic way to keep you motivated and on track during the networking process.
A vital step to ensuring consistency when making new connections is staying organized. You have put a lot of time and effort into growing your professional network and you do not want it to go to waste by falling inactive. Stay on top of your network and keep track of your contacts. Write out follow-up dates to stay in touch with new and old connections and make sure you follow through – you never know when you may need their help again.
Life happens, so be prepared to adjust your schedule if it does and remember to not be too hard on yourself if you do not meet all your goals for that day or even that week. There is always tomorrow. And if you remain consistent when working and keep a clear vision of your objectives, you will always remain on track.
Schedule some "me" time
Whether job searching or networking, I cannot stress enough the importance of setting “me” time. Once you get going on something, it can be hard to stop. However, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the situation at hand and lose focus on what it is you’re working towards. Take time to decompress and clear your mind. However you chose to do so is up to you, but make sure you take time to relax and reconnect with yourself and celebrate your victories, big and small.
Last but not least - Be yourself.
Try not to overthink it! A lot of the time, we turn networking into something much bigger than it is. When, it’s no different than making friends. In general, when making friends, we want to be authentic to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us. That same idea applies to networking and job searching. You spend more time at work than you do in any other activity in your life, so it’s important to be authentic and surround yourself with a job and people who reflect your personality and keep you motivated. As well, makes networking much easier when you approach it as yourself, rather than stressing over how you can change things to meet the needs of others.