What’s the big deal about networking? Well, just about EVERYTHING.
Aside from letting someone else proofread a resume, it’s one of the bigger stumbling blocks freelancers face when trying to get their next job.
Why? Because networking can strike fear into many an otherwise courageous jobseeker’s heart.
To help, we asked Vitamin T agent Kelly Moeller to take you through the 12 steps of successful networking.
You can see him clearly, can’t you?
Hunched over his laptop, furiously typing, reentering the same information over and over again. Name, location, desired salary range, citizenship status... Upload resume, click here (don’t forget to include the cover letter), and... “send.”
The last resume sent for the day. Now he can relax. He is the “Job Hunter” and for this blog I will refer to him as Job Hunter Henry (JHH for short).
JHH thinks to himself, “I hope this round of resume sendoffs yields some interviews and my next gig. After all, I’ve sent out over 250. Two or three have to stick right? They just have to!”
Sorry, JHH, but freelancers cannot live by resumes alone. YOU HAVE TO NETWORK!
Staggeringly, OVER 60% OF JOBS ARE FOUND AND FILLED THROUGH NETWORKING (in-person and online). Often, that number can inch toward 80%. So in actuality Job Hunter Henry has a very slim chance of truly gaining ground simply by sending over his resume to a job opening.
So you know what that means: Network, network, network….. oh, and network.
- Get out there to networking events and join some groups. Dust off your nicest outfit; WAZE the directions, and head on over. There are SO many great groups to join. Set a weekly/monthly goal of how many you want to attend and hit it.
- Attend industry events that you may have never been a fan of – trust me, they’ve changed. I would even suggest volunteering at an industry event by helping to hand out name tags. Best seat in the house and by far the easiest way to meet everyone at the event.
- Hand out business cards. Even if they only say your name, specialty, email address, and number. They will come in handy. And yes – your resume and portfolio links should always be updated and listed on your card.
- Nobody likes a wallflower. Work on your interpersonal skills. Simply attending an event but not talking to anyone will only make you frustrated. Find a buddy when you walk in, chat it up, and together you will find yourself falling easily into conversation with others.
- Never overdrink at a networking event. It sounds like a no-brainer but I have been to many an event where I’ve seen people throwing back free cocktails only to leave with no contacts, no job prospects, and the lurking possibility of a hangover.
- Do your homework. Are you attending a mobile networking event? Then be prepared to chat about mobile topics. Packaging? You need to talk about that. Every industry has a blog/website/magazine. Scan it and read up on some topics.
- Market yourself! BYOBM means Be YOUR Own Best Marketer. Make it your mantra. Be prepared to talk about the easiest topic in the world: YOU! Have that 1-minute elevator pitch primed and ready. And as much as I want to know that you’re AWESOME at Call of Duty or that you like to kayak on the weekends, remember why you’re there (to find work) and be sure to let the other person have their say as well!
- Accentuate the positive. Although you may have recently been part of a downsizing or you hated your old boss, if someone asks you why you’re there, never answer with, “I lost my job, so I figured I would check it out” or “My boss is a jerk, so I’m looking to leave.” ALWAYS accentuate the positive: “I’m here because I’ve heard great things about this group and wanted to check it out. My specialty is Online Marketing, and I thought a group of like-minded folks would make a great addition to my network.” (Or something like that!)
- Utilize social networks. Make sure you have a LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook account to help get your name out there.
- Who do you know in your online network? Have you ever really looked into your network? You might be surprised who knows whom. Your mom may be a close friend of the mother of a hiring manager at a company you’ve been dying to check out. Talk about six degrees of separation! Do some homework. Make your net-WORK for you.
- Polish your online profiles. If you’re just out of college, chances are good that there may be some photos, comments, postings, etc. that are inappropriate for prospective employers to see. (You know who you are.) Remember the basic rule — if you wouldn’t hand it to a hiring manager in an interview, take it down.
- Create content and engage in the community. Just having a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn account won’t be of much help unless you put yourself out there. Start a discussion. Interact! Our Digital Zookeeper has a great video on this very topic: “5 Essential Social Media Tips for Your Job Hunt.” It’s only a minute long, and packed with great info!
So there you go. No seriously, you need to go.
Close this blog and go out there and network like you’ve never networked before.
And remember this (and this comes from YEARS of networking): You will never ever know who you’ll meet (until you meet them)!