If you’ve heard that networking is a great way to get a job, you might wonder how to go about it. It’s simpler than you think. If you have friends, relatives or have been to a party, you’ve got some networking experience.
Employers hire people they know. It’s only natural. If you wanted to hire somebody to do some work around your house you would probably ask your friends before searching the internet because you would rather work with someone you know and can trust. Managers are no different.
Here’s how to build out your network when you are ready to look for your next job.
Start with your references.
The people you choose to put on your reference list are people who are invested in your success. Keep in touch with them, don’t just put them on your reference list and forget about them until you’re looking for a new job. Tell them what skills you’re gaining and how your career is progressing. Ask how their jobs are going as well.
Let everyone know you are looking.
The more people who know, the more who will be looking out for you. Ask a friend for an introduction. Mutual friendships and shared interests can lay the groundwork for a robust network of professional contacts.
Make small talk.
There’s no limit to who can be a part of your network, so talk to everyone. Your cousin or someone you meet at a soccer game or in the grocery store might know who’s hiring. If you go to a public speaking or networking event, don’t just talk to people you know, introduce yourself to anyone you see.
Establish a network before you need it.
The time to build your network is when the economy is strong. Build relationships now that will be useful in the future. You might not be in a position now where you can call on your network to find you a job, but this is the building part and eventually you will have the network available to you when you do need them.
Use social media.
Connect on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to build your network. For example, if you find an interesting job post, look up the company on LinkedIn to see if you know anyone who works there. Ask what it’s like to work there, and if there is anything that can set your resume or application ahead of the competition. See if they are willing to put in a good word for you. It may be beneficial to them as well, if the company has a referral bonus program.
The important thing to remember about networking is you’re trying to establish a mutually beneficial relationship. That’s why it’s important to nurture your network even when you don’t have an immediate need.