How to Network Your Way to Job and Career Opportunities

How to Network Your Way to Job and Career Opportunities

career growth job search networking newsletter Apr 06, 2024

In this article, we'll share how you can build a powerful network that leads to job and career opportunities, even without any connections starting out.

Recently, Jack landed an incredible new job, increasing his income by 80%. 🤯

He had no prior experience in the same job title and had no connections at the company that hired him.

How did he do it? He methodically created connections through networking conversations with people at the companies he wanted to work for.

Networking conversations (a.k.a. virtual coffee chats or informational interviews) are casual conversations with relevant people within your field/industry/company.

Most people understand the importance of networking, and some even put a lot of effort into meeting as many people as possible. While this approach might lead to many conversations, it rarely provides the intended results (referrals, interviews, job offers).

Like most things, we need to balance Quantity (the number of conversations) with Quality (the conversions most likely to help you).

Before we dive into how you can develop quality connections that will help you in your job search and throughout your career, let's clarify the 3 main purposes that networking conversations serve:

  1. Increase your knowledge - you learn a ton from meeting with people who are in your target role
  2. Access employment opportunities - connections lead to referrals, letting you skip the line of applicants for jobs
  3. Expand your general network to support your long-term career growth

Networking conversations are the most effective way to accomplish all 3. And you can do so without any existing connections.

Let's get into how to navigate networking conversations, starting by shifting your mindset:

 

1. Mindset shift

As we've discussed, building a network is a remarkably effective strategy for landing jobs and advancing your career.

However, it's dangerous to approach networking conversions solely focused on getting a job referral or an introduction to a hiring manager.

The person you're meeting will sense it.

When reaching out and connecting with new people, you want to have a mindset of building genuine connections, making new friends, and learning from their experiences.

Having this mindset reduces the anxiety and awkwardness that often exists when meeting people for the first time.

 

2. Getting conversations

You'll need to contact people cold since you might not have many connections relevant to your target role or company.

For cold outreach, it's best to use highly personalized messages about who you are and why you're interested in meeting with them.

For example, you might find a sales professional on LinkedIn and send them a message like:

"Hi [NAME], I see you've worked as a Sales Manager at ABC company for the last 2 years. I really admire the sales team you've built and how effectively you sell your product. I am an SDR at XYZ company currently and was hoping to chat with you for 15 minutes about a few ideas I had about XYZ. Let me know if you can find 15 minutes to chat in the next week or so!"

Cold outreach doesn't always work. More often than not, you'll get no response, but that's okay; it's part of the process. You will absolutely get some "Yes" responses, and that makes cold outreach worthwhile.

Bonus Tip: If you don't hear back from someone after your initial outreach, send at least one or two polite follow-up messages in case they missed it. People generally want to help, but they're busy and sometimes need to be reminded to get a response.

If you stick with it and focus on sending personalized messages, you'll get responses and have conversations that will open doors for you.

 

3. Make it easy and keep it short

It's best to make your ask for their time small. Ask if they're open to meeting for 10 to 15 minutes, which makes it super easy for them to agree to meet with you.

Set expectations upfront that you don't want to take up much of their time.

To make scheduling easy, use Calendly or another calendar scheduling tool that allows people to book a time at their convenience. This reduces back-and-forth trying to schedule a time to meet.

 

4. Have a clear and concise story

You should be able to explain in 90 seconds who you are and what you're looking for (or interested in) in your career.

This is where having your Personal Value Summary can be very helpful.

In addition, you should make it clear how they can help (more on this later).

With closer connections, you can be more ambiguous about what you want. For example, if you're meeting with a former colleague or friend, you can say, "I really don't know what I want," and get their help.

But when meeting new people, your interests and goals should be crystal clear.

 

5. Ask well-informed questions

Before your conversation, do as much research as possible.

Don't waste this opportunity by showing up unprepared and "going through the motions."

Part of your preparation should be knowing what you'd like to learn from this person based on their experience and career journey and having questions ready to ask them.

Rather than asking basic questions like "how do you like being in sales?'" ask informed questions based on what you research. For example: "I saw you progressed from an SDR role to AE in 2 years, what was key to making that transition quickly?"

 

6. Build a personal connection

People help people they like.

Focusing on building a human connection will increase your chances of forging a relationship that will support your job search down the road.

It's always helpful to find common ground with the person you're meeting with. Discuss common interests, hobbies, sports, or technology you noticed they're interested in based on their LinkedIn profile.

Aim to make the conversation organic, enjoyable, and not transactional.

 

7. Have a clear ask

Many people avoid asking for help. 

But people can't help you unless you let them know how they can help.

The key is to show gratitude and make it easy for them to help you.

You could ask:

  • "Based on our discussion of my goals and interests, is there anyone else you think I should connect with?"
  • "Thanks again for meeting. If there are ever any open roles that you think I could be a fit for, I'd love for you to consider passing my resume/LI along to the hiring manager."
  • "Thank you again for your time and for sharing advice on how to approach the interview process at [company]! It's great to hear how genuine the culture is at the company! I am really excited about this opportunity and believe my experience is aligned well with the role! Would you consider referring me for the [role] - or sharing the hiring manager's name with me?"

 

8. Offer something and follow up

You made your ask, and you don't want to make this a one-way relationship.

The best way to leave a great final impression is to offer support.

You can offer to introduce people in your network or support them on a project they're working on.

By simply asking, "Is there anything I can do to help you in your career?" you've shown them that you want to help them in return, not just get something from them.

After the meeting, send a quick follow-up message. Tell them you appreciated their time, mention 1-2 things you found insightful, and close with any next steps.

Bonus: If you take their advice (e.g., follow up with someone in their network, implement something they recommended), send another message about how you implemented it, even if it's months later. They'll appreciate it, and it will also keep you top-of-mind for them. And being top-of-mind leads to opportunities.

 

Increasing Your Net-Worth (Network)

Networking is a powerful skill. Just like any skill, it takes practice to become good at it. But the great thing is you don't need any connections to get started, and it costs nothing except your effort. When you build genuine connections, you'll have more success in your job search and throughout your career. That's exactly what Jack did to land his dream job, and there's no reason you can't do the same.

Happy networking! We're rooting for you!

 


Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways we can help you:

1. Free Job Search Workshop: Learn about the strategies hundreds of people have used to land high-paying jobs in the tech space.  

2. Job Accelerator Program: Our flagship program gives you live coaching and the step-by-step process to land a B2B tech job quickly, saving you the cost of a prolonged job search.

3. Personalized 1:1 Coaching: We'll work together to help you start or advance your career within B2B tech. 

 

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