This is the last part of our weeklong series on networking. See all of the posts in this series.
In this series, we’ve talked about how to identify who’s in your network and how to grow your network, formally and informally. In our last post, we want to share tips on how to engage your network when you’re job seeking, and how to invest in your network when you’re not.
Ready, set, activate!
If you are searching for a job, there are few ways to leverage your network:
- First thing’s first: Let people know that you’re looking for a new opportunity! Update your social networking profiles (that takes care of many of your weak ties), send an email to close friends (strong ties), and start having conversations (both). This can be complicated if you’re currently employed, so ask your contacts to use discretion, if needed. Ask a Manager has some great advice on how to tell your network that you’re looking for a job.
- Use your weak ties as bridges to new contacts and opportunities. Social media has made this simple. For example, LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to ask for an introduction to someone two or three degrees removed from you. The introduction gets you in the door, and then it’s up to you.
- Pay attention and be helpful. Offer to review something in advance, write a guest blog post, or make an introduction. Even when you’re searching, the more you put into your network, the more you get out of it.
Networking after you get the job
Because networking is about relationship building, it doesn’t end, even after a successful job hunt. In fact, starting a new job provides a great opportunity to engage your network further. For example, each of these activities will strengthen your connections as you embark on a new path:
- Send thank you cards to those who helped you in your job search.
- Articulate how you can be a resource to others in your new role—perhaps via a LinkedIn or Facebook post, or, even better, through individual emails.
- Figure out ways to engage members of your network in your new role (e.g. form partnerships, collaborate on projects, or invite people to volunteer with your new organization).
- Join a professional association related to your new role, and begin participating in online forums or in-person events.
- Use your new position to establish new connections in the field by asking a contact to introduce you to new people.
Networking is never “done”
Even when you’re happily employed, you’ll want to continue to invest in your network. Commit to doing one networking activity each week. Examples include:
- Attending formal and informal events.
- Sharing an interesting article or idea with someone in your network.
- Conducting an informational interview.
- Making introductions between people you think should know each other.
- Meeting regularly with a small team of like-minded professionals to share tips, advice, and support.
- Using social media to research new organizations, ask and answer questions, or just engage in interesting conversations.
By investing in relationships, you set yourself up for success later. And if you’ve benefited from the knowledge, contacts, or advice of others (and you most certainly have), you also have the opportunity to “pay it forward” by serving as a resource for others. The more you can incorporate these kinds of activities into your life, the more natural it will feel.
Let us know how you’ve benefited from an intentional networking strategy. We’d love to hear stories of landing jobs through networking, of course, but also of other fortuitous connections you’ve made.