We live in a world of connections, in the era of recommendations and referrals. Doesn’t matter how much value we place on education and working experience when it comes hiring new employees. The statistics show the truth of hiring in the 21st century:
Every third new hire in the US starts with a personal referral. Why are referrals so popular? They rock, because they are the most cost effective way of recruiting new staff, and they report similar success rates like other methods of hiring new employees, which are all more expensive (such as appointing recruitment agency, or starting with a traditional job ad and pool of candidates). Even you can get a new job, or even start a brand new career, with the help of someone else.
The key is to choose the right connection (people who can help you getting a job you want to have), and to connect with them in a right way (in a way that they can see the value you can bring to their company, and understand how they can benefit from helping you–because everyone minds their own business more than anything else).
Where to start?
Many people claim that we live in an era of social media. But they are right only to a certain extent.
It is true that you can use LinkedIn or Ryze to connect with powerful people. What is more, the networks are packed with recruiters, with people who are always hunting for new talent, people who are connecting with everyone. But you should never forget that these people are not your real friends. They won’t recommend you as SOMEBODY.
For them, you are simply another job candidate on their long list of people, another opportunity to make money (if they match you with a job offer and convince you to apply and you eventually get hired, they will get their commission, which is often more than a few thousand dollars).
While you can get a job in this way, even in a good company, this is not the networking in the true sense of the word. It is just another online fallacy…
The only true networking is based on real connections, not on the virtual one you can have with anyone. The people who really know you, your strengths and weaknesses, and understand the value you can bring to any organization. People who are happy to meet you on the street and shake your hand.
Only these people can recommend you to an employer in a way that will make you special in their eyes. And that’s exactly what you want to achieve. You do not want just another interview invitation–you want the door to be half open already!
But how to get such a connection? Obviously it is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it. But you can help your chances in many different ways:
- Take part in networking events, talk to people, smile, be active, look for opportunities to connect with someone. People are social beings. Most people are happy if someone approaches them on a conference, wanting to talk, or even in a bus. Don’t be the shy one–most of us are! Make the first step, break the ice, and start the conversation.
- Use your connections from the past to introduce you to right people. Of course this can be done only if your connection has been good, and if you put at least some effort in maintaining the connection. Look into your old address books, do some online research, and find if one of your former schoolmates can hand you a helping hand.
- Go to seminars, TEDx conferences, events in your city. Go as a visitor, or try to become a speaker. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Such events are built for networking, and you should not let this opportunity slip between your fingers.
Interview is also a form of networking (especially informational interview)
I knew a manager who went to many job interview, even though he was not seeking a job. He had one, and was satisfied with his position. But he still applied, went to interviews, met with the managers, collected business cards, talked to people, made a good impression. He was preparing for a next career move which he planned to do a year or two later.
Once the right time arrived, he had many emails to send a message to, and many numbers to call. These weren’t cold calls anymore. He had met with the people before, he showed them what he could do, he made a connection. It made a big difference for him, and he landed a six figure managerial job in an automotive company with ease.
A common (though often overlooked) way of connecting with the right people is an informational interview. Meeting someone from an HR department of a big company is always a great chance for you, and a learning experience which will help you in real job interviews.
If you have an opportunity, you should take it. And if you do not have it, you should create it (asking for informational interviews, going to events, meeting people). The one who has information has power. The one who knows many people will always find some doors open, waiting for him to enter… And the one seeks, will eventually find.
Career networking is not as difficult as people believe. One does not need charisma, or natural talent to build connection with the right people.
All you have to do is to show respect, enthusiasm, and interest for other human beings and their lives. At the end of the day, hiring managers and recruiters are only people, like I and you. They like when someone is interested in them, and in their career, and they feel good helping someone, especially if they like the person. Enjoy your career networking efforts!
May also interest you:
- New career ideas for everyone – Wanting to start afresh? Check the list of careers you can start anytime, regardless of your education or previous working experience. Great read for everyone who feels bored from life, and looks for a new start.
- What job is right for me? Starting your professional career? Deciding about your studies? Or feeling unhappy in your present occupation? The article should help you to find your true calling in life. A must read for fresh graduates, or people who struggle with their college choice.
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication?