Building Your Professional Network (to hear about the best jobs first)
‘Does anyone know a good person for this job?’
Around the world right now there are a group of people discussing a new job and in several languages the question is asked around the room “Who can recommend someone?”. Are you likely to be in the frame of these jobs?
In many cases a company will only advertise a fraction of roles that exist in the organisation. In many cases, the ‘outside world’ never finds out about such roles. As a result, the process of networking is useful in helping you to discover new job opportunities.
Look at Who You Have Worked With
For experienced candidates, a consideration is to look back at your career ‘Who, in particular, did I work with who may be with an organisation that would be attractive now?’ One of the real benefits is that your former colleague will know your strengths and act as the right person to introduce you to the organisation, which will go further than even the best cover letter.
Naturally some folks can be reluctant to ‘put themselves out there’ or be seen to do so – I think a useful idea is to let your contacts know that while you are currently enjoying your role, if a new opportunity was to arise, you may be open to looking at it – this is often all your former colleague or friend needs in order to tell you about a hot new job they are aware of.
To many people the idea of reaching out to friends and associates to find a job can feel rather disconcerting. Thankfully, networking is something you already know how to do instinctively because you successfully network with other people almost every day.
Getting Out and About
Very often it is as simple as accepting invites to an event or joining a club or society of interest. A classic case is in University where there is a Rugby, Golf, Dance, History Club etc. – a group of people with a common interest. It might be now that you speak to most people through your children’s sporting activity and if so, get involved and show a genuine interest in others.
Many of the professional bodies in Ireland such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society organise a number of events with networking at the core. As well as hearing about who is hiring and opinions on what a company is like to work with, networking on this capacity is also an opportunity to discuss service providers, the business environment, how the competition is doing and a range of useful business information. It is no coincidence that a high number of finance directors in Ireland seem to have built a strong network of support on their way up.
Successful career networking requires you to give back as much assistance as you receive. Maintain regular contact with your former colleauges who you got on well with and who know how good you are. Offer advice and assistance where relevant. Even if you can’t provide practical solutions to their issues, you can at least offer them moral support and encouragement.
If you are keen to lift your networking game in 2020, a simple resolution may be to simply accept invites to events and gatherings – once a week/fortnight/month depending on what you are hoping to achieve.
[Original post in 2016, Edited on 19/02/20]