Networking Your Way to a Better Job
This is Day 3 of the 39 Days to a Better Job series, where we review actionable tips to make you better at your job.
Networking: when you hear the word you immediately picture some lame event in a high-school gym with nervous people in suits pressing other annoyed people for a job.
With all the social-networking tools out there, you can do all this from home!
Seriously, your network is one of your most important parts of your career. Consider that:
- You take it to every job you go.
- It can get you a new job even if you’re not 100% qualified.
- It can bring in new business.
- You can meet some interesting people.
- It’s fun to see how high you can go.
Networking events are one thing, but networking in general is pretty easy these days as long as you follow some general guidelines.
You can sift through them later (if you really feel you need to), but for now just sit down and add every single person you can possible think of. Coworkers, former coworkers, friends, people you were introduced to that one time at the bar, etc.
If you remember a name, add that person. Don’t be shy. Don’t wonder if it’s “weird” that you’re adding them to your network.
Just do it.
It’s not just about having this person in your network, it’s about getting access to all the people in that person’s network.
For example, thanks to @chrisguillebeau, I’m connected to the most powerful man on the planet via LinkedIn:
So if I ever get in trouble I know he’s got my back.
You should do the same: once you have a healthy amount of people added you can start poking around to see who is a few degrees away from you—you’ll be surprised at who you find.
Use them all: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you work in a field where images and design are a key component, then you might consider using Pinterest.
But for now you should be safe with the big three: most people are on at least one of those three networks.
Facebook is good if you’re trying to get to know someone better on a personal basis (which can help), but you might have to actually know them so it’s not as awkward.
Twitter is great if you want to “listen in” on the things a person is interested in or thinking about at any given time. And the fact that they don’t have to accept your request is a big part of it.
LinkedIn is where you should focus your efforts: it’s focused on work so if someone you just met at a client meeting adds you, it’s not weird at all because it’s business.
Don’t just add people to Twitter and never go on there: use it. Otherwise you’re wasting your time. You don’t have to tweet or retweet or any of that stuff, but at least listen to what the people you’re following are saying, the issues they’re discussing, etc.
LinkedIn is my favorite one of these tools: you can search for just about anything on the site. So if you’re looking for a job in publishing but are eager to move to Arizona, you can run a search and see who pops up.
I just made that filter up and guess what? I have three people in my secondary network that are in publishing in the Tucson are.
That was easy.
Always Find an Insider
If you’re searching for a new job, you need to use any and all of these sites to get as much background as possible before you land an interview. When I was looking for a new job I managed to get invited to interview with a company I had never heard of.
But searching through LinkedIn I found that a girl I had gone to grad school with years ago knew someone there. And she actually worked in the department I was interested in. So I sent her a note and she reached out, introduced us, and got me an “in.”
If you can talk to someone on the inside before an interview you can find out more about the company, their problems, what they’re like, etc. And when the time comes to hire, the boss on that side will ask “How did we hear about this person?”
Regardless of how it’s explained, the fact that you came in via a semi-referral bodes well.
My advice to you? Don’t wait until you’re looking for a job. Don’t wait until you need something. Start adding everyone you know right now.
And if you find yourself on the other end (someone asking you for help), do as much as you can for them. Karma is a beautiful thing.
Image by Patrick Hoesly