Being creative in your networking can land you the job of your dreams.
I said in an earlier episode that to land career-relevant work, you need to use your existing network and hang out with outstanding professionals in the field. Today I’ll cover specific strategies and techniques to do exactly that.
How to Get a Job through Networking
Today’s quick and dirty tip is that the best way to get a job through networking is to go where the people in your field hang out and try to make contacts. Try to build a relationship. And the best way to build relationships is to "be a giver." Every time you offer to help someone out you will be gaining experience--and it's likely that you will be thought of when it comes time for them to find a new employee.
Even if you’re a student and not looking for a job right this second, you should still start your networking now. The more effort you put into your networking, the more you will receive in return when you finish your program and are looking for full-time work.
How to Network with Alumni
First, the most obvious--yet usually very under utilized resource--is talking with other graduates. The idea is to find out what others are doing—get in contact with alumni of your specific program. They are already familiar with the quality and content of your program and are more likely to want to help you since they have walked in your shoes. If you make a great impression, maybe they might ask you to assist them with whatever they are currently working on.
When you first call them, realize you are not calling to ask for job—in fact, it’s NOT a good idea to directly ask for a position. Contact them only with the intent of simply trying to understand what they are doing. Ask for their advice on what internship approaches have been successful (and not successful for them). Maybe your discussion will trigger an idea for a project--or maybe it won’t. Again, your goal is to focus on idea generation. One young woman who I was helping found an alumni who was working at organization where she wanted to work. She contacted her and after building a relationship, she scored an internship.
Network at Conferences
Again, don’t ask about a job, ask about affiliations they have with honor societies, associations within your major, or conferences they have attended. Attending a conference is a great opportunity to personally meet people in your field. Who knows, you might impress someone enough that they create an opportunity for you. In fact, Ana Gaby, one of our interns, told me about a college classmate who impressed an ex-ambassador with astute questioning during a Q&A period. The ex-ambassador asked him to stay after the session so that he could offer him an internship.
Use LinkedIn to Network
Go where the people in your field hang out and try to make contacts that way. Try to build a relationship.
Another approach would be to join career-relevant groups on LinkedIn and interact in the groups or post and reply to questions. That will give you some direct or indirect experience. At the very least, you will be leaving a digital footprint of your activities and you might motivate someone to offer you an opportunity.
It’s also important to show your creativity and enthusiasm for the field by participating in these groups. Then, when a potential employer Googles you (and they will), they will find these interactions and you will gain credibility and an edge over others who haven’t taken the extra step to get involved and engaged.
Participate In Professional Blogs and Contact Podcast Hosts
Many professionals maintain active blogs. Find professionals who blog and start a relationship by commenting on their blog. Experts always love involved people and if you become an active member in their blog, they will naturally want to know more about you. In case you’re wondering how to be engaging, you can read/listen to my tips about how to make conversation online. Several listeners have engaged with me via this podcast and have ended up working with me in one form or another.
Use Twitter to Network
Of course, Twitter is another great resource to use. According to figures from eMarketer, Twitter receives over 14 million visitors a month from the USA, and they estimate that Twitter currently has over 6 million users. Use Twitter search or Twitter alerts to find professionals who are actively looking for help. For example, if you’re looking for PR experience and you notice an entrepreneur looking for examples of a media kit, you could send them a few good examples of media kits appropriate to their field and suggest that you might be a good person to help them. Of course, you’ll likely want to target specific companies or industries. There are a ton of tools available to help you sift through the conversations quickly and easily to discover hidden opportunities.
Help Yourself Out with HARO
Finally, I want to share a more unusual approach that I thought was very creative. A young enterprising public relations student decided to take an ad out in an online publication that goes out to nearly 30,000 members of the media. He landed an awesome opportunity for himself. He was able to creatively engage the community he wanted to work in and was able to make himself stand out.
Again, if you want to find career-relevant work, use your existing network creatively and hang out (physically or digitally) with (other) outstanding professionals in your field!
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