Networking. Few terms in our modern job search environment are more confusing and stress inducing than "Networking". In today's hyper-fast, "Gotta go", selfie society, it's harder than ever to understand how this helps your job search. And if you're an introvert like me, the thought of networking can be overwhelming to consider.
The purpose of job search networking, of course, is to find someone who can help you find your next opportunity. Whether it is face-to-face or social media networking, the idea is to connect with others who can help you, correct? The short answer, of course, is "yes".
However, I'd like to introduce you to a networking practice that is much easier, more fun, rewarding and productive.
Pay it forward networking
The idea here is to first think about how you can help the other person in their career, position or business. What can you do to help them? Who can you introduce them to? Do you know someone that might be interested in their service, company or working in their department? Then think about whom in your network might be interested in connecting with them.
Social media networking
So how does this work exactly, you may ask? Let's say you're on LinkedIn and notice a Corporate Recruiter at a company you're interested in posts a new position in your feed. You realize this position clearly isn’t in an area that you have experience or interest in. However, you know a few in your LinkedIn network that may have the correct background for the role. Simply share the post and invite your network to review the information.
Chances are, the Recruiter will thank you for doing this or at least, view your profile. Either way, you just Networked. When they send you a note, reply with a short “You're Welcome” and ask them to keep you in mind for your ideal role.
Another LinkedIn option is to write a Recommendation for a former coworker or supervisor who has moved on to other companies. Authentic and thoughtful recommendations will be remembered and returned. At the same time, your review will be viewed by hundreds, if not thousands in their network.
For more LinkedIn networking tips check out LinkedIn Networking Tips for Job Seekers.
Face-to-face social networking
I know this may seem old-fashioned nowadays, but face-to-face networking offers another chance to pay it forward. Let's say you're at an actual social gathering such as a birthday party or business event and you meet a new acquaintance that happens to be a supervisor or manager. You learn fairly quickly that their niche isn't in your wheelhouse of skills. Try asking them questions such as "What types of backgrounds do you look for when hiring in your department?" If you happen to know someone that matches this, offer to introduce him or her via email or social media for networking purposes. Both your new acquaintance and your contact will keep you in mind as they learn of new positions.
In another scenario, you meet someone and realize they too are seeking a new position. Take a moment to ask about their career goals and ideal positions. Make a mental note (or note on your phone) of this. Keep this person in mind as you’re searching open positions and send a few their way.
Start with a couple of these examples and you're on your way to Pay It Forward Networking. This approach of networking by helping others first can be very rewarding, fulfilling and a fun way to build relationships. Along the way, you’ll meet some amazing people and make great connections that will in turn help in your search for your next opportunity.