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 networking even helps your job search.
And if you're an introvert like me, the thought of networking can be overwhelming to consider.
What's the purpose of job search networking?
To find someone who can help you find your next opportunity, of course.
Whether it is face-to-face contact or social media networking, the idea is to connect with others who can help you.
However, I'd like to introduce you to a networking practice that is much easier, more fun, rewarding, and productive.
Pay it forward networking
What's the main idea of pay it forward networking?
Glad you asked!
It 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?
Think about who, in your network, might be interested in connecting with them.
Social media networking
So how does this work exactly, you may ask?
Example #1: Share relevant positions with your network
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 where you have experience.
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.
At the very least, they'll likely 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.
Example #2: Write authentic and helpful recommendations
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.
Example #1: Offer to introduce a potential candidate
Let's say you're at a social gathering such as a birthday party or business event and you meet a new acquaintance who 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?"
Maybe 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 be more likely to keep you in mind as they learn of new positions.
Example #2: Help someone network for the sake of helping
In another scenario, you meet someone who is also 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.
- If possible, send a few their way.
Start with a couple of these examples and, just like that, 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.
You'll also make great connections that will help in your search for your next opportunity.