Although you might be aware that successful job-searching requires strategic networking, you may not know how to leverage networking skills to survive the current job market. Collectively, we’re experiencing an international pandemic, economic recession, massive unemployment; it’s not an ideal time to find a new job. As a result, job seekers will have to become more creative and resourceful.
According to sociologist Tracy Brower, Ph.D., MM, MCR, an important component of job search success is the strength of your network. She notes that “Typically, new jobs don’t come from your primary network (those who know you best and with whom you speak most often), since you and they probably have similar knowledge of the opportunities available. New opportunities normally emerge from your secondary and tertiary networks because those contacts can access markets and people you don’t. By definition, they will know of possibilities that are new to you.”
To find success in your job search, be sure to stay connected with your mentors and associates but make efforts to expand your network.
Developing new connections is the key to building and expanding your network. Leverage your current professional connections to tap into these secondary or tertiary networks by asking to get introduced via Zoom or reaching out to people you know from a distance but with whom you don’t normally interact. Maybe there’s someone you met in a previous role who can help you now during your job search. Even though it might be hard to put yourself out there, take advantage to be open and transparent about seeking work opportunities, especially during a pandemic. Most people will be able to have empathy for your situation and provide ways to help. Reach out to a wide breadth of contacts, cast a wide net, and let them know you are open for new opportunities, ask them to keep you in the loop if they hear of anything fitting.
Be Open to give and receive help.
Offer value. Rather than asking people for a networking call or an introductory conversation, offer them the information they may find useful or give them feedback on something you’ve seen them do or say on social media. Remember it’s a two-way street! The most fruitful connections have an element of reciprocity so consider how you can add value for them since you’re asking them to add value for you. Ask for help. People typically love to provide advice and input, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. Bower suggests it’s important to resist the temptation to launch into a desperate monologue of all your skills and talents and ensure the conversation you have with contact is two-way and allows them to make suggestions and provide you with the assistance your search.
It’s important to massage your relationships with your network, even when you’re not in need. Too often, people only reach out to their more distant network when they need a job, a contact, or a reference. Stay in touch with people regularly, especially when you’re not asking for anything. Check-in on them regularly, share an article, or just let them know they came to mind. This will keep your relationship with your contacts fresh, and when you need help, they’ll be more likely to assist because you’ve stayed in touch over time.
Keep the momentum.
Although it might be difficult and discouraging to job search during these uncertain times, try your best to be optimistic and keep your momentum. When you reach out to someone, you may not hear back right away, but keep at it. Follow up on your email at least a few times before letting up.
Bowers adds, “You also want to be creative in how you distinguish yourself. Amid the current atmosphere, many people are busier than usual. You will not be their main priority, so be gracious about asking for their time and, before connecting, express gratitude for their potential attention.”
Put yourself out there.
It would help if you made yourself visible to the network successfully. Be mindful of your personal and professional person during this time. Although a tough job search might make you frustrated or cynical, people typically want to hire and work with people who are positive voices and influences, rather than negative nellies. Keep your authenticity and transparency but lean toward the positive in your public interactions.
Bowers also notes, “Sociologically speaking, familiarity leads to greater acceptance. If you’re visible and your contact has seen your posts or heard your virtual voice through social media, they will be more likely to take your call. So write a blog, speak at a virtual conference, and be active on multiple social media platforms.”
We’re living in challenging times. The process of finding a job itself is a daunting task but paired with a pandemic and crumbling job market; it almost seems impossible to start over. However, all isn’t lost! There are plenty of companies out there that are hiring but tapping into your current connections and creating new links is the first step.
Expand your network, prioritize delivering value as well as asking for help. Stay in touch with your career mentors and associates but be willing to socialize yourself to build new relationships and networks.
Even if the job market isn’t on your side right, you can build a network that is.
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