As you seek new job opportunities and apply to job postings you find online, you will find yourself clicking and submitting your resume into a variety of online application systems. And, there are definitely great sites to check for online opportunities. But did you also know that during that time many people found new jobs through simply networking? That’s right—job seekers find their next career move by talking to people, attending events, and making connections. Remember the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” Well—to a certain extent—It’s still true.
You will have a unique opportunity when applying for a job (and during an interview) if you have a personal connection, inside information, or knowledge about the company that you get from an in-person or ongoing conversation. Clients often ask where to start seeking these connections and how to build a network. Read further for five ways to increase your visibility and potential chances for a new role in the future.
1. Attend a networking group in your area
There are all kinds of networking organizations. Some meet weekly, others meet monthly. Most networking groups have a guest day or an ability to check out the organization one time prior to committing as a member. Take advantage of this opportunity. Many of these groups also have an ability to ‘sub’ for regular members. Make an effort to be a sub—that way you can gain the connections of the members while sharing your expertise and building your network.
2. Check out your local chamber of commerce
Most cities (even small towns!) have some sort of chamber of commerce, commercial organization, or business-building network. These organizations typically have a business after hours, morning business connection event, or other events throughout each month. These events are designed to build connections. Make a goal to attend one of these each month and expand your circle of influence. Polka Dot Powerhouse is one of my personal favorites—it’s a connecting organization for women that has allowed me to make new friends, collaborate with business professionals, and discover opportunities for my clients.
3. Schedule one lunch or coffee date each week
If you are completely out-of-work and haven’t been able to find a new job, scheduling a lunch or coffee date with a past colleague or a new connection is a great way to network, enjoy time with a fellow professional, and discuss what you could potentially bring to a new employer. By setting a goal of doing this once per week, you hold yourself accountable for expanding your network.
4. Build a relationship with a staffing agency
During the past, many people viewed temp or staffing agencies as a place to call when they needed assemblers for a week or a way to fill labor-intensive positions. While these agencies do perform these services, they often have professional divisions or employees that are seeking to fill higher-level roles in companies. The inside information is this: these companies often don’t advertise jobs because they are strictly working with the staffing agency to fill the roles. Rather than paying one of their employees to review resumes, conduct interviews, and go through the hiring process, they simply contract with the staffing agency. It’s a great idea to let these agencies know that you are available for a new position—they may know of a job opportunity that isn’t even out there yet.
5. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date
While this isn’t necessarily an ‘in-person’ networking event, reaching out to a goal of five people per week on LinkedIn will cultivate additional connections. If you are actively seeking a new job (i.e. you lost your job, have been laid off, and are ready now for a new career move), then put that directly into your LinkedIn headline. There is no need to be secretive about it. Send five messages to connections each week and let them know you are ready to make a move, ask if their company has any openings, and tell them your most recent significant accomplishment.
Here’s the thing—these tips only work if you work at them. Set goals for yourself, track your progress, and change what isn’t working. The point is this—if you don’t work at your job search, then none of it matters. Be positive about your skill-set, understand that you have strengths to bring to a new employer, and don’t be afraid to be assertive in your job search. No follow-up (click here to discover amazing ways to follow-up) and zero networking simply doesn’t equal success in today’s job market. Network, connect, and communicate to land your next job opportunity!
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has written thousands of resume for clients in a variety of fields. Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish has a BBA in Management, an MBA, and a PhD in Organization and Management