Is networking really that important? Networking is not only the most common way people find jobs, it is also the most effective job search tool. Experts estimate that up to 90% of jobs are filled by a referral and as many as 80% of jobs are never posted. When embarking on the job search, spend 60% of your time meeting and connecting with professionals, 30% of your time spent researching opportunities, and 10% sending resumes to contacts.
It’s great to start with online networking tools like LinkedIn to identify contacts and then follow up to request a face-to-face conversation, which are often the most powerful. Colleagues, family friends, fellow alumnae, and community connections with experience related to your interests are good resources for informational conversations.
Having some networking etiquette tips in your toolbox can help. Here are a few of our top tips to keep you poised for success:
- Be mindful of others’ time. Be brief and to the point with your communications as you look to connect with other professionals. A few sentences is enough to introduce yourself, share your common interest, and ask for something (coffee meeting, information, referral, etc.)
- Add value. You have to give to get. Offer to connect two of your acquaintances, share a resource that you find useful, forward a relevant article that you come across, etc. EVERYONE has something of value to add.
- Be specific in your requests. As you look to expand your network, identify exactly how others can offer assistance. Rather than asking if they know anyone who is hiring, ask “I’m wondering if you, or anyone you know, could help connect me with hiring managers in digital marketing.”
- Thank you notes never go out of style. Send a thank you note to a colleague who sent you a lead, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Make others feel appreciated and you’ll be strengthening your professional relationship and your personal brand.
- It’s never too late to reach out! Forgot to follow-up? Haven’t spoken in a while? Ideally we would always follow-up within 48 hours but, life does happen. We sometimes fail to follow-up in a timely manner or realize that we haven’t spoken to someone in months or years who might now be beneficial to reconnect with. If it has been an extended amount of time, it can be helpful to remind your contact of how you are connected (i.e. how you met, your last conversation, mutual friends).
- Netiquette. Add value to online discussions by sharing experiences, relevant articles and ideas. Avoid alienating others with argumentative or polarizing posts and never bad-mouth employers or colleagues. This includes all social media platforms, personal or professional.
If you are interested in making a career or job move, definitely add networking to your to-do list! Plan to spend twice as much time talking with other professionals as you do scouring online job postings. Challenge yourself to make one new professional connection each week and build your network!