8 Professional Networking Tips to Find a Job
Finding your next job can be as simple as having lunch. Seriously. The simple act of networking increases your visibility among the right people -- including recruiters and HR managers who are scouring their personal and professional networks to find the right candidate for an open position.
As with any form of advertisement, networking can be done effectively or poorly. When done well, networking can be a great way to get your foot in the door for a job opportunity. However, when done poorly, networking can have almost the opposite effect and drive employers away from you. Luckily, it’s easy to learn how to network effectively. You just need a few professional networking tips to help point you in the right direction, whether you're at your computer or at a career fair!
Professional Networking Tip #1. Forget the Sales Pitch
You’re opening your mailbox. You pull out an envelope. It’s from a company you don’t know or care about. Worse yet, it’s obviously a form letter which was printed for thousands of recipients. How do you feel about receiving that letter? Do you even open it?
Most people are excellent at spotting a direct, well-rehearsed sales pitch from someone trying to find a job through networking. They can spot it on television and they can spot it in real life. Trying to engage with someone who’s giving you an inauthentic, pre-canned sales pitch can be uncomfortable for both parties. Instead of winding up a sales or elevator pitch, try to treat job networking like you would meeting any other person. Make it personal and personable.
Do your homework and research areas you may have in common -- such as a school, choosing a major, or activity you both enjoy -- to connect with a job prospect in a meaningful way. Broaching the right topic of conversation can go a long way in networking effectively.
Professional Networking Tip #2. Be Approachable
When trying to find a job through networking, approaching other people is good, but getting approached is even better. And you can increase the chances of that happening by looking approachable. Not all of us are social butterflies, and networking can be intimidating even to an outgoing person. But do your best to smile and show enthusiasm for connecting with others. Dressing in a professional manner helps, too -- but don’t overdo it. You can look professional without feeling like you’re trapped in a wardrobe that isn’t you.
Professional Networking Tip #3. Be Yourself
Some people will get along with you, others won’t. That’s life. But being yourself is the only way to give another person the chance to like you for who you are. People have a fairly intuitive sense of when another person is being authentic during the job networking process.
An impressive performance has its place, but it usually isn’t in job networking. Potential contacts, associates, and employers will find out your personality eventually. And it’s better for everyone involved that it happens sooner rather than later.
Professional Networking Tip #4. Share Your Passion
People love enthusiasm. You might not care about Russian literature, but someone who’s passionate about it can sweep you up into their excitement.
Enthusiasm is the height of authentic expression, and it’s easy to appreciate passion in another person whether you share their interest or otherwise. It’s like putting a smile on your attitude about work. Expressing zeal or excitement appropriately for your field of interest is an essential professional networking tip for anyone trying to show a sense of dedication to potential employers.
Professional Networking Tip #5. Put Aside Your Personal Agenda
It’s usually easy to identify when a person is exhibiting self-serving behavior. If you approach finding a job through networking with the mindset to receive but never give, you’ll have a hard time making friends and business connections.
Networking is about joining a community of like-minded people in the knowledge that a rising tide lifts all boats. It’s about playing as a team, and providing genuine value to the people around you. And it’s often as simple as introducing two people who might be able to help each other.
Whether you’re networking online or in person, authentic interaction is everything. Try asking about the other person’s aspirations and background experience. Get to know them on a personal level and see if you can make a meaningful personal connection. Maybe you have a mutual acquaintance, went to the same college, or both enjoy the same science fiction shows. Job networking can be as simple as trying to make a friend.
Professional Networking Tip #6. Engage in Conversation
The two components of a good conversation are equal contribution and active listening. Contributing is usually as simple as having a few questions to ask or being able to talk about recent events within your industry. Adding your own thoughts and perspective is a way you can bring value to the table when networking to find a job
As for listening, it’s unfortunate but true, many people aren’t great listeners. Active listening is about making a concerted effort to understand what another person is trying to communicate. It’s the difference between half-paying attention to your spouse complain about work, or intently listening to your doctor describe how to use a new medication.
President Bill Clinton is widely regarded as one of the most charismatic politicians of the 20th and 21st centuries. In his biography, Clinton revealed one of his secrets to social success: giving people your undivided attention. He would listen to people and remember what they had to say.
That advice is the essence of this professional networking tip: other people notice how much attention you’re giving them. And when you remember something from a previous conversation, it proves you were listening and can make a lasting impression on your listener. Tellingly, Clinton’s approval rating peaked at 73% and he left office with the highest approval rating of any president since Truman in 1953.
Professional Networking Tip #7. Do Not Dismiss Anyone as Unimportant
Everybody wants to talk to the boss, but the boss wasn’t always the boss. People grow and change, careers take off and alter course. Anyone you meet through job networking has the potential to help you in the future and every contact you meet has the potential to open doors for you.
Of course, not everyone has the same ability to influence your career track. It’s worth prioritizing your attention to people who are at least peripherally involved in your industry. Just don’t make the mistake of dismissing someone as not important. Pretend you’re running for office and treat every encounter is an opportunity to win one more vote in your favor.
Professional Networking Tip #8. Follow Up with Connections
After you’ve had a successful interaction during the process of job networking, following up no longer feels forced, and may even be warmly welcomed. If nothing else, a follow-up shows you’re interested in keeping the conversation going. It may open doors for you, and it will almost certainly make an impression on your would-be contact.
When Pepsi spends millions on advertising, they don’t expect you to see the billboard and rush out to your local grocery. The point of the ad is much simpler: you’re more likely to choose from the brands you know. The point of the billboard is to remind you that Pepsi exists.
Job networking is about letting the right people know that you exist. These types of connections can pay off in the form of career advice or employment, both now and in the future. What you make of networking ultimately comes down to you. But if you follow these eight key professional networking tips with authenticity and persistence, you can rest assured that your job search is headed in the right direction.
Networking in Insurance
Are you considering working in insurance or finding a new job within the industry? These are equally effective professional networking tips for insurance professionals looking to find a new job, or for those looking to break into the field. For instance, if you are pursuing a career as an insurance agent or broker networking is key to building your client base. It allows you to build relationships within your community and generate leads in a competitive market. As an expert in the insurance job field, MyPath can vouch for the effectiveness of these networking tips!
Not sure if insurance is the right career for you, or trying to decide which type of insurance job is right for you? Take our Career Planning Wizard Quiz to find out!