Virtually every employment or careers advice book, blog or article will highlight how important networking is to your job search – we’ve even mentioned it ourselves in our own ebook How to Search and Apply for Jobs (*ahem* shameless plug). However in reality how easy is it to network effectively so that it can have a positive impact on your job search? Well, with a little planning and thought, it needn’t be that hard. For starters, here are a few suggestions – 5 Ways to Build your Job Network.
Ask the People you know
The easiest thing of all is to start with the people you actually know – friends, family, former colleagues. Why not ask them if they know any people or companies that may be recruiting or who it may be worthwhile you getting in touch with? Sometimes an initial introduction by someone else can be all that you need to make inroads into getting your foot in the door. Roles are filled every day by people who have been referred or recommended for positions. Don’t assume that your nearest and dearest can’t help you build your job network.
Join Professional or Trade Associations
It makes sense that you ought to affiliate yourself with people who have a common or shared interest. Your working life is no different from your social life in that respect. If there are bodies, associations or committees that you can join related to your profession, industry or career of choice, then you ought to do so. You will thereby be establishing and forging links with people of influence in your chosen career and these may prove invaluable. Also, having a shared interest and enthusiasm for a particular trade or business makes any networking meetup that much easier to attend.
In all likelihood there are bound to be regular events in your local area that are attended by local employers, company decision makers and ‘people of influence’. Whether they are events affiliated with local business organisations like the Chamber of Commerce or events related to particular market sectors or business interests, it would be worthwhile attending. Keep an eye out for any such events that may be featured in your local press and get along. Face to face networking like this can be invaluable for building your network and ultimately leading to connections that could help you get a job.
Use Social Media
Some Social Networks more than others lend themselves to building your job network – LinkedIn being the obvious example. If you’re not already a member, you ought to consider joining it. Often referred to as the ‘professional’ social network, you can use it to build up a network of connections of former colleagues, employers and clients. If you create a bio that highlights the fact that you are looking for a job, who knows what opportunities your network could pass your way. They may have people within their networks who they know are actively seeking someone with your skillset. One word of warning however – don’t make the mistake of joining up and then simply trying to connect with lots of people who don’t have the first clue about who you are! Many people take issue with this and in the long run, it won’t do you any favours.
When you are not working or even if you are and do it in your spare time, the rewards you can get from volunteering can be invaluable. Even if the role that you undertake does not necessarily directly relate to your ideal career choice, as well as developing new skills, it will be enabling you to develop new connections. Those connections could potentially be able to recommend job opportunities to you down the line. Don’t assume that they won’t. If you do a good job in a voluntary capacity, you are certain to be recommended for things that may arise in the future, either within that particular organisation or within another that they have links or are aware of.
Got any other suggestions? Why not let us know via the comments section below.