Networking Your Way Towards Your Dream Job
I regularly meet people who are just waiting for the perfect job advert to appear in the paper and their dream job to land in their lap. Only this week a friend was in tears frustrated by the usual job seeking tactics. She heavily relied on job adverts and application procedures and was getting very poor results. Every day, she sat at home waiting for change to happen. I suggested that she take a more active approach to her job search and get out and network. Now, many people shy away from networking and consider it as ‘pushy’. We need to reframe our attitudes to networking and see it as helping others and adapting and connecting with them.
If you are unhappy in your current role, seeking change or a job, answer the following questions:
- Are you on LinkedIn and showcasing you talents and making connections?
- Are you involved in voluntary organisations such as the GAA, Lions, Rotary and local sports clubs?
- Are you active in your local community and do people know your skill set and what you are looking for?
- Are you attending networking events and/or events run by your professional organisation?
- Are you going to Alumni gatherings or school reunions?
- Are you open to new contacts, ideas and people?
Having spoken to Caitlin O Connor from Accelerating Performance, I was struck by her emphasis on the importance of rapport, listening and expressing gratitude while networking. It seems to me that it is crucial to immediately follow up on a lead and to not let the connection ‘go cold’. Caitlin advises to email or phone the person within 5 working days.
What to say is understandably a concern for many when job searching or networking. Preparation is key. It is advisable to prepare in advance a brief sentence about what you do, your skills and your area of interest. Try to be clear about what you are looking for. If the person you are talking to – at a networking event or in an everyday situation – has not got the information or contact you require, perhaps, they might know of someone who does? Take the initiative by asking for a contact email address or telephone number and have a business card to hand. It is important to bear in mind that networking can happen anywhere , at anytime.
I’m reminded of a young Engineering graduate I worked with in Trinity. He was busy looking for work and due to the lack of opportunities he was considering moving to General Electric in Boston. I enquired about his networking strategies and it was something that he never had considered. He was relying on traditional job seeking methods. He was open to suggestions and took on board the possibility of networking his way towards employment.
That same evening he went off to support his brother playing at an under 10s football game. On the side line, he met a South African man. Networking was fresh in his mind so he shared with the stranger that he was an Engineering graduate looking for an opportunity in a dynamic company. The man took a huge interest in him. As chance would have it, the man had contacts in a large Electrical Engineering firm in South Africa. He encouraged the young graduate to follow up with him after the match as the company had openings. This graduate landed a job on the side of a football field at a local under 10s game. In his mind, he was bound for Boston but, through a chance happening he ended up working in Johannesburg! He couldn’t wait to tell his friends over a pint about his networking tactics!
Could you start renewing your networking strategies too and land yourself a dream job?
Or, if you are already in a job, could you through your contacts become a boundless employee?
* Caitlin O Connor of Accelerating Performance refers to the term ‘boundless employee’ as an employee with boundless connections or a large network for future work and opportunities.