Passion 4 People Getting Hired: Growing Your Network
We left off in 2021 talking about the power of Linkedin and second connections. As we begin 2022, one of the things we can commit to doing to improve our careers is growing our networks through LinkedIn and offline. Remember, networking for a new job is like training for a marathon: you don’t get off the couch and run 26.2 miles, just as you can’t find a job without spending time building your network. It’s a muscle and you need to work to strengthen it!
If you haven’t already, try to reach 500+ connections on LinkedIn. It may sound like a lot, but it’s really not. Connect with anyone that you know or have met in the past. Go back in your mind to school or university and make lists. Sometimes it’s surprising how many people we know from years or even decades ago, who we're not connected to on LinkedIn. Think through other categories of people you know:
Neighbors (past and present)
Parents of your kids’ friends
Friends of your spouse or family members
Friends outside work
Personalize Your Requests to Connect
If you have included everything on your profile, Linkedin will show you people that went to your university and worked at all the companies where you worked. Just go into your network and look at the “people you may know” section. If you’d like to connect, don’t just hit the “connect” button underneath their names. Click on their photos and you will see a pop-up to personalize a note to them.
ALWAYS personalize the message. You could say “So nice to see your face pop up…” or “I am late to the LinkedIn game…” Usually people who know you from the past are happy to connect.
Once you are first connections, you’re able to see people's email addresses. Think about sending a short email to say thank you for connecting. This email can include a brief message/question if you’ve been wondering about them over the years or are curious about what they’ve been up to. Be sincere. Doing this will also make it easier to approach them later on. With the New Year here, you can say something like “I’ve resolved to reach out more in 2022…”
Join Linkedin Groups
Groups can be another great place to network. You can search for groups related to your industry, your job function, and where you want to work. If you can find a group that combines both your industry/job function and your target geography (e.g., Philadelphia and New Jersey Area Accounting and Finance Professionals), that’s a great group to join.
Once you are approved to join, don’t be afraid to jump in and join the conversations. Post content that might be interesting to the group. Look to see if there’s a jobs section for the group. Sometimes group members or recruiters post jobs that might be interesting. You can connect with people in the group that you would like to meet to expand your network.
Connect in the Real World
In the real world, continuing Covid concerns make it harder to set up networking dates, but you can always schedule brief 15 or 30 minute Zoom meetings to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Make yourself a goal of doing one or two of these a week, or several a month, depending on how much time you have. Remember to keep up the networking even when you aren’t actively looking for a new role.
Become Involved in Your Community/Join an Organization
Every community has groups you can join that reflect your interests. It's one of the easiest ways to meet new people. Join an environmental or nature group, a book club at your local library, or an exercise class. If you have Covid concerns, you can always lean towards a group that meets outside more than inside, or virtually on video.
You may feel nervous about reaching out, and that’s natural. The truth is that we are all seeking connection as our worlds and communities evolve due to the pandemic and its fallout. Be brave and take the plunge to grow your own community of friends and connections! You never know where it might lead in terms of your job search!
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