Using networking to find a job is so easy, that even a seven year old could do it. When I was seven, I moved from Tucson, Arizona to Columbus, Ohio. I had no family or friends anywhere near the Midwest, and to be very honest, the thought of starting school with strangers in the winter seemed like one of the most terrifying things I would ever have to do. I was a little awkward, and a little goofy.
What’s funny about entering a room full of strangers is that the feeling of being an awkward outsider doesn’t necessarily go away with age, especially when unemployed or looking for a new job. Going to a networking event is a lot like starting at a new school especially when you are unemployed, but you don’t have to look like you aren’t sure of yourself. Here are 5 tips on how to use networking to find a job, and look good doing it:
1. Do your research: Forget practice makes perfect. Try research makes perfect. If you know more about an event, the host group and likely attendees, you will be able to more effectively use networking to find a job or at least make great connections. Before I go to an event I look at the organization’s website and on LinkedIn profiles (a little online stalking never hurts), to make sure I am as prepared as possible. Also, because conversations go two ways, make sure you are well versed in your resume.
2. Be the first to attack!: This can seem terrifying, but because most people at networking events can be sheepish you will help someone else feel relieved. Take a deep breath, walk up to a group and introduce yourself. Not only will the confidence be attractive to potential employers, but you will be surprised how people just start asking you questions and talking to you.
3. Ask Questions If the group you approach is a bit awkward (we’ve all been there), start asking other people questions about what they do, where they work etc. Warming a group up can do wonders for a conversation. Learn more about ice breakers, questions to ask and elevator pitches in our past blog “Getting past hello.”
4. Make connections between people Now this may throw some people off, but instead of asking for a job, why not help your new networking buddies meet someone they might be able to work with? Connect them with your personal and professional contacts. Build relationships, and eventually when the stars align they will be able to help you find a job as well. If you still want to ask for a job, do it tactfully. Ask “Are there any companies that you could refer me to.”
5. Follow up Make sure to keep in touch with the people you have met. Set up a time for coffee and connect them with who you said you would. If you do what you promised, you will likely have a great connection to start talking to at the next event at the very least. Follow through can also land you a meeting or interview with someone who is hiring.
In the end, remember that everyone is human, and most people are nervous to speak to strangers. If you are friendly, professional and helpful you may be surprised at how easy it is to use networking to find a job.
Author: Elyse Lopez