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job searching online networking strategies

Job Searching? Online Networking Strategies to Get you Started

How to Build Relationships and Grow Your Network

Embracing our digital realm of human connection doesn’t have to feel impersonal or distant. You can and should be forming new social ties online as a jobseeker. Take advantage of the world’s receptiveness to meet online and people’s giving attitude to create new connections through online networking strategies.

Read on to consider the best ways to network online, make new genuine connections and unlock employment opportunities.  

First things first – define your objective

What do you want? Like many things in life, an effective networking strategy begins with the answer to this simple question. The answer might seem obvious if you are working in a specific discipline and want to stay in the same role. But for those looking to make a career switch, it’s important to be clear on the type of role you’re seeking.

Even if you’re staying in the same role, you want to think about the type of organization you want to work with. Make a list of companies or organizations that you’re interested in and look for common themes. You might see patterns based on industry, technology, size or stage of growth, market focus, or other attributes.

Defining your job objective clearly, in terms of the role and the type of organization, helps you in three ways when it comes to networking: 

  • It helps identify the people you’ll get the most value from talking to. 
  • It brings focus to the conversation and the questions you have, resulting in more productive interactions. 
  • It makes it easier for your contact to think of a referral for you to continue the discussion.

1. Boost your personal brand across platforms

You may be new to networking online and considering the best platform to start. Perhaps you have a few profiles spread across various social platforms and job boards. LinkedIn is great for building your career community and leveraging their support.

However, be sure to make an impression on every platform you have an existing presence on, and seek out new ones to attract attention from your target audience or niche. For example, if you are a tech job seeker be sure to boost your profile on Hired to attract the right interest.

The lack of requests, followers, or connections does not mean you are not being reviewed by real humans on the other side of your digital presence. It’s easy to post a profile and forget it exists.

Related: Hired partners with several organizations for networking and community opportunities. Click here for more info about these and other Hired partnerships.

When it comes to online networking strategies, everyone is a content creator

However, employers, recruiters, and employees of the platform are all viewing you and may be inspired to reach out to you directly if they like what you present. Conversely, they may retract interest if they find inconsistencies. Audit your profiles to ensure you are communicating your current intent in the market.  

Get clear on what value you bring to the table as a professional, highlight your top skills and what your objective is. Be sure to carry a consistent narrative across platforms.

You can change it at a later date as you pivot your search strategy but be sure to flip the switch across all mediums. Avoid confusing your audience that may cross-reference their findings from one profile to another. 

Aside from consistency and career clarity, pay attention to content design and quality! Not only checking for typos and having concise formatting but add a photo and show off what you’re proud of, what matters to you, and how your work has made an impact.

2. Get out of your comfort zone with outreach

Outreach can be petrifying, especially if you are a private person. Start with your warm leads. Your ‘warm’ leads are your friends of friends, acquaintances, old colleagues, alumni networks and associations.

Think about your portals. Where do you spend your time online? Could you be searching #trending tags to help you reach a coach, recruiter or employer? Are you part of relevant groups? Do you join any virtual meetups?

The more you put yourself out there, engage and get strategic with how you spend your time onlineeven with your daily scroll – the more likely you are to curate your way into creating new opportunities. 

Set a goal to reach out to a set number of new people every day. It could be 5, 10, or 20! Pick one and hold yourself accountable and stretch yourself to increase the number weekly if you start low.

Thoughtfully crafted messages are more likely to get you noticed. However, balance your time writing a great note with the momentum of sending notes in volume. 

Driving the conversation

When you have networking conversations, remember they are not job interviews. They are, in fact, informational interviews. The other person should be doing most of the talking. If you find yourself answering questions, that’s a sign you’ve lost control of the conversation. Bring the discussion back to your purpose of learning about the role, the organization, and the insights this person has gained from their experience. 

At the end of the meeting, be sure to ask this question: Who else would you recommend I speak with, given my areas of interest? If they’re able to give you one or more names, then ask if they would be willing to make an introduction. This is the most effective way to extend your network and build momentum in your networking activity.

Don’t forget to follow up

Always send a thank you email or message. This is a chance to show your appreciation and reiterate your job objective to the person you spoke with. That way, they remember to let you know if they come across any job opportunities that might be of interest.

But don’t stop there. Set a calendar reminder to send another email in 4 to 6 weeks. Find a reason to reach out to them. It may be an article or blog posting to share, or your own thoughts or observations that are relevant to their work. Use this email as another opportunity to remind them of your job objective.

3. Be curious; focus on relationships, not jobs

In a saturated market where people are inundated with messages, you are likely to see only a few people reading or paying attention. Therefore, the need to scale your efforts by sending a healthy amount of messages daily and to say something of genuine quality, matters. 

The key to building trust in relationships is to go in with a ‘giving’ mindset. The more you are willing to give in your interaction; that is, offer value, concern or empathy, the more likely your thoughtful interactions will convert to the value you seek in return.

Keep your messages brief, concise, and personable without being too forthcoming.

For example: ‘I am keen on learning more about how you landed a role at X and happy to share some of my work on sustainability as I see it is one of our shared interests.’ 

Try to find common ground, offer an exchange of ideas, or simply be polite and transparent about the help you are seeking.  People are often willing to share their insights and form new connections, especially if you come across as genuine and interesting.

Finding a job is a journey, but it’s easy to become fixated on the destination. Looking for a job takes time and energy, and it can be stressful, especially if you are not currently employed. It’s natural to want to focus on the result under these circumstances. But this mindset can be counterproductive. It can close you off to opportunities or ideas that you might not have considered. And it can cause a subtle shift in the dynamics of your networking conversations, from collaboration and sharing of ideas to asking for a favor.

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Originally published in May 2020, revised July 24, 2023.

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