October 12, 2015 : Network Like a Pro
Networking is the new resume of the world- and it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. My dad always taught me that "Life is a sales call," and that phrase rings true now more than ever. Every person you meet today is an opportunity to put yourself in a better position tomorrow.
If you're submitting applications to job sites like ZipRecruiter, Monster, or whatever, your likelihood of getting a job is 4%. From experience, I say that's a waste of time. Trying to get a job through networking increases your likelihood of success. Most recruiters start out filling a vacancy by looking within the company. Nobody? Okay, next they go to people who have proven track records of success (IE: portfolios, strong online presence, tangible results). Still nobody? Then they go to friends of colleagues- and that's your true window of opportunity. So let's get started on some basic networking tips.
#1. Be Present
This goes without saying, but if you're not going to events in your field of interest, your chances of meeting someone who could potentially get you a job dramatically decreases. Say if you're a marketer, you have to go to events that AMA hosts. Stick around for the cocktail hour- that's when you're going to make some friends ;).
#2. LinkedIn is King
If you're trying to get a job, the first thing people will often look at is your LinkedIn. For god's sake, make sure it's updated and you have a professional picture on there. No selfies, please. It's okay to have a little personal pizzazz on your page (perhaps in your summary section?), but you have to remember that LinkedIn is for business. Truthfully, people are forgetting that nowadays.
Also, when you go to these events, or you have a guest speaker in your college class, or you are in the grocery store check-out line and realize the guy behind you owns a company that you'd like to work for, whatever, it's SO important to follow up with them on LinkedIn. It puts a face to a name, solidifies your previous interactions, and lets the person know that you're on top of your game.
#3. Stand Out
(Within reason). I went to school at UGA's Terry College of Business. And while Terry prepared me for the business world in a really big way, Terry created a cookie-cutter image of what "you're supposed to look like." In my experience, it's incredibly important to be yourself. This facade that people put up when talking to potential employers usually just gets them into trouble down the road when they realize that the company is simply not a cultural fit. Now, I'm not saying to act in an unprofessional manner. But I mean, throwing in a joke here and there goes a long way. Beyond that, if you're talking to someone who has been on the phone all day trying to fill a position, you want to throw in some personal sauce so that they can remember you.
#4. Don't Burn Bridges
It's not always easy to do this, but it's endlessly important. You never know who could open that next door for you. It's easy to just cut off contact with an employer who offered you a job that you ended up not wanting. Easier than, say, calling them and telling them the reasons why you're not taking the offer and thanking them for their time. That's confrontation- I get that. However, if you treat that employer with respect and simply say something to the effect of: "You know, I really appreciate you taking the time to get to know me and seeing potential in me, but I don't think this role is a fit for me right now. I'd love to keep in touch though!" You'd be surprised how an employer responds. I got a referral for a dream job from the guy who's job offer I turned down.
#5. If You Don't Have the Connection, Make One
Sometimes you just don't know the right people- it happens. But does that mean that you cannot still get the job through networking? Absolutely not. Remember how I said LinkedIn is king? This is another reason why. Find the recruiter who is handling the role you want on LinkedIn, connect with them and send a personal message "Hi _____, I'm so-and-so, I wanted to reach out to you and see if you were the person who's handling the ____ role for x company."
I know you're not supposed to connect with people who you don't know on LinkedIn. However, recruiters will accept your invitation 9 times out of 10 because it's their job to have a lot of people in their network. After you get the green light, it's time to shine. Send articles, notes, ask for a phone call, SELL YOURSELF. If you believe that you have value to add to their organization, and I mean truly believe, it will show.
#6 Quid Pro Quo
I know what you're thinking. I use this term to define the way in which you should ask for a referral. Say you're reaching out to someone who writes for a blog, we'll use myself as an example. You don't really know me, but you've read some of my content. It's good to start out with a compliment, tell me that you'd be happy to share my articles to your network each week and recommend Spire to a friend or something. Then throw it in- the request. "By the way, I noticed you were connected to so-and-so, would you mind making an introduction for me? I'm trying to build a relationship." You've already addressed the "what's in it for me?" question, so why wouldn't I help? Point being, if you offer someone something of value before asking for a favor, you're statistically more likely to get what you want.
That's all for now! I'll do more networking tips in future posts, but this should get you started. Share, Comment, Like, all of that. Also, please subscribe for weekly updates from the Spire Advantage!