With the global pandemic, the work dynamics have certainly changed — companies moving to remote work environments, changes in recruitment strategies, etc. These changes in dynamics demand rethinking the networking strategies — we can no longer visit a nearby networking event and engage in dynamic in-person conversations. But no worries, the online realm is to rescue, but not many of us how to navigate the online domain to network and establish new professional connections, especially when you are looking for a job. In my opinion, networking plays a crucial role in the hiring process, but this depends on your field of interest. I am in the UX field, which demands communication skills, so networking does play an important role (comment below if you are on a different career track and tell us about how networking has(not) helped you in your career).
In this blog, I want to share some key insights from my networking experience that have helped me secure jobs.
- LinkedIn Networking: LinkedIn’s career advice feature connects you with industry experts in your profession and provides avenues to discuss potential opportunities. I would highly recommend you to opt-in for this new feature as it takes away the initial barrier of identifying experts in your field and establishing a connection. This feature might not be available for everyone but do not get disappointed as there are many other networking platforms like Slack, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup. This approach requires an initial time investment to identify online communities in your field of interest and signing up for their communication channels. You can get on their mailing lists to get updates about job openings and online events.
- Existing Network: Don’t forget about your existing network, which involves your friends, college mates, professional network, friends of your friends who can help. It is very easy to forget about them! We often get into a spree to establish new points of contact, and not knowing when to stop becomes a speed bump.
Knowing when to stop/pause networking is crucial
- Defined Goals — There is more to networking than just establishing communication, you should have defined goals that should be clearly communicated with the experts to get actionable feedback and results. If you are looking for job opportunities, then let them know. Situate your questions/inquiries based on the position/expertise of the person in contact.
- Positive outlook and Open-mindedness — There is no one way to achieve your goals. Maybe a contract job is the right choice at the moment or volunteer work or skill development.
- Share progress with the Network: Show that you are making progress and leading forward. Use communication mediums like blogs, videos, images — so that your network knows you are putting their advice into action. This deed will represent your dedication and motivate your professional community to help you further.
Share progress with the network, let them know that you are putting their advice into action
- Develop Skill Set: Strike a balance between networking and perfecting your skills. It’s no point to get an interview call if you are not ready. Focusing and developing a niche is the key: it can be coding, designing, research, engineering, you should be able to convince someone that you are qualified for the job.
- Follow-ups: Not hearing back from experts/network? No worries! Do not shy away or refrain from following up with them. Maybe they didn’t see your message the first time. But remember to keep a buffer time before following up, some industry experts check their email once per day, and some experts who keep different channels of the communication might check messages once per week.
Networking requires research, consistent follow-ups, communicating progress, and the benefits it reaps is worth the trouble. Good luck with cracking the networking game 🎯. If you follow any other approach, I would love to hear from you in the comments section.