Networking During Covid
Who knew 2020 would be so turbulent? The pandemic has taught many lessons,
especially career-wise. With so many businesses folding, the number of people faced with finding work is staggering.
You may be wondering how you can stand out from the crowd with so many people job hunting, and that’s a legitimate concern.
That's where networking comes in.
The truth is, most people don’t realize networking is one of the top job-search techniques to master, so they never fully develop this skill. The phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” often comes to mind when trying to find a job. While many people are confident in their skill set, job searching becomes a lot easier when you have the skills and inside plug.
WHAT IS NETWORKING?
Networking is a way to expand your contacts through your existing social connections. It need not be stressful or high pressure. It could be as simple as asking your friend group if they can introduce you to someone in your industry and then reaching out to their contacts. Ideally, you would always be expanding your network, even when you are not job searching.
People network to get noticed by others in their field; gain more prospects; make more
contacts; build relationships and your reputation. When looking for work or considering a
new career, a network of people with experience or roles in your desired field can help with
a job search. Networking the right way can provide amazing results during your job hunt. If you don’t have a network in place, it's time to create one.
Another important reason to network is that most open jobs are never posted. They are filled
by people who are connected to the hiring company and have the inside track. Networking
significantly improves your chances of learning about jobs BEFORE they are posted.
LinkedIn can help you find a job by connecting you to others who may be looking for your
skillset throughout your job search. The main objective of LinkedIn is to help you find your
tribe, build formal and informal connections, and when you need to, get a job.
Before you start networking on LinkedIn, here are a few things to consider:
DETERMINE THE NETWORKING STYLE THAT WORKS FOR YOU: Connecting with others is the objective, but job searching must be strategic. Find the people who you know and who know you FIRST. This includes friends, family, and colleagues from your career. Next, reconnect with contacts you’ve lost touch with. Join a few LinkedIn groups or create a LinkedIn group to network with like-minded individuals.
COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE: Your profile is important and will become a part of your personal brand. Have a good quality photo that is clear and shows you in professional attire. Add a background image that reflects your personality and profession or field. Make sure to mention your industry and have a well-written, concise summary. Include a detailed work history, education, and four areas of expertise or skills. These are key to finding work
KNOW THE RULES OF NETWORKING: Networking can be tricky. Unless it’s a very close friend, never ask for an interview – or a job. Instead, take time to ask questions about the company and culture to determine if it would be a good fit. Letting people in your network know you would like to gain experience in the field, or that you’re in the market for certain roles is a better way to alert others to keep you in mind when potential opportunities arise.
How to Network Using LinkedIn:
CONNECT, CONNECT, CONNECT: Think about everyone you have ever worked with, anyone you know from school, people you know from your kids’ activities, your partner’s friends…ask them to connect on LinkedIn. There is virtually no downside to connecting and people will most l likely accept your requests.
POST REGULARLY: Share your insights and stories by posting so people can get to know you, your work, and your skillset. This allows you to highlight skills and expertise while establishing trust with your audience. Provide value to your growing LinkedIn network by offering your perspective and asking for input; writing testimonials, giving endorsements, and providing recommendations; offering encouraging words; and answering questions. Use different kinds of content when sharing your stories to help build visibility.
BUILD RAPPORT: When you’re connecting with recruiters and staff at different companies of interest, engage with their posts, then build a rapport to start the conversation. A word of caution – don’t send your resume unless you’re asked. As opportunities arise, you’ll be able to inquire and forward your information or LinkedIn profile. This way, they will already know who you are and job hunting won't seem as hard.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. Here are a few suggestions for other ways to network:
VOLUNTEER: One of the best ways to get to know people is through volunteering. Working with a non-profit can help you make strong connections and match you with other professionals in your field.
REACH OUT TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW: When learning how to build or expand your network, start with people you already know but don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know only peripherally. Most people enjoy helping others so push beyond your comfort zone and ask people beyond your immediate circle of friends for help.
I MEAN EVERYONE: Additional places to network include faith-based groups; industry associations; the Chamber of Commerce; Business Networking Associations (BNAIs); cultural events; sporting events; trade shows; and college alumni groups. All these places are still connecting, even if it’s online.
Things to Remember About Networking:
CONSISTENCY AND AUTHENTICITY ARE KEY: Make a plan and stick to it. The more you reach out, the more skillful you’ll become. In this pandemic, no one is truly “fine.” Be real and authentic as you speak to people. A kind word or being truthful about how things are mentally can go a long way. Your goal is to build your informal and formal network so you can tap into it whenever you need to in your job search. A lot of information comes down the pipeline via networking groups, so being on the inside is important.
FOLLOW UP: There’s no quicker way to send all your hard work down the drain than by not following up. Once you’ve made a connection with someone (online or in-person), take the time to send a personalized message indicating you would like to keep in touch. Reach out to your contacts once in a while by commenting on their posts, asking how they are doing, and sharing information. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the industry; networking can keep you employed through any circumstance when you have the right contacts in your circle.
We are living in unprecedented times, with no real indication of what to expect down the line. These tips will point you in the right direction and position you to find your next job more quickly and easily.