Millennial Mondays has been my baby for the last six months, because I’m a millennial and I have no idea what’s going on- so I figured ya’ll are the same. Except for, I’ve realized that I don’t know how to help you all the time, but maybe someone else does? For the next couple of months, Millennial Mondays are going to be filled with a bunch of people who know how to be successful in life. Welcome to the party.
This week’s guest poster is Laura. She’s fun. Here’s what she had to say: “In former lives, Laura Stufflebam Holth has been a university Resident Director, Career Counselor, and Certified Personality Trainer, but she is now a Work-at-Home mom with a resume-writing business and a blog at www.ScatteredWoman.com, where she strives to inspire women in faith, family, and lifework. You can generally find Laura on Facebook, and she loves hearing from her readers, so feel free to reach out!
If you’re job hunting and have no idea where to start, check out her private Facebook Group to get all your job search questions answered!”
Networking 101: 7 tips to connect new grads with new jobs!
You’ve got a resume. Check!
You’ve written a cover letter. Check!
You’ve started networking. Well… Uuuuhhhh… 😳
By this point in your professional life, I’m sure you’ve heard that networking is important to your job search. Conservative estimates say that over 60% of jobs are found through networking – not job boards. Many jobs are never even posted publicly! Uncle Bob was right after all: it really DOES all depend on who you know!
So where do you start? What IS this networking thing everybody keeps talking about? And HOW in the world am I supposed to do it??
Networking is simply making the most of the connections within and stemming from your circle of influence. For the purposes of this post, it’s using those connections with the goal of landing a great job!
It’s talking with someone you know, who introduces you to someone he knows, who connects you with an industry leader she knows, who offers you a fantastic position with his firm. It’s harnessing the power of social interactions for your job search!
But, how did I DO it??
There are LOTS of job search networking strategies out there, but here’s my beginner list to get you started:
Tell EVERYONE you know about your job search.
Do you regularly email family and friends to fill them in on what’s going on in your life? Do you have a Facebook group or Instagram pod for the same purpose? TELL them! Regularly.
Talk to your former professors, university staff, friends from church, and members from other organizations you’re a part of. Talk to EVERYONE YOU KNOW about your search.
You never know who might connect you to someone else’s uncle’s best friend’s stepdaughter who’s hiring for your dream (entry-level) position.
Practice your elevator pitch.
Before you can be truly successful with Step #1 of this networking plan, you need to have a very clear and concise “elevator pitch.” An elevator pitch is simply a 30-second statement that tells someone what type of job you’re looking for, why you’re a great fit for such a job, and what it is about you that makes you stand out from the pack.
If someone asks you what type of job you’re looking for, and you respond with, “Well, you know… My degree is in engineering. And I kind of like cars. So, something engineering with cars?” your networking success is going to be VERY limited. If YOU can’t describe exactly what you’re looking for, how will anyone else??
You need to be super clear with your elevator pitch so those you tell it to will easily be able to pass it along. Try something more along these lines:
“I just graduated with a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering and am looking for an entry-level position in the automotive industry. My first love is design, with a strong second interest in environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles. If you know anyone who might be able to connect me with an environmentally-conscious automotive manufacturer with an opening for a design engineer, I’d love to meet them!”
Print up some business cards and ALWAYS keep them with you.
Whether you choose to print up some business cards at home with print-and-perforate cardstock – we love Avery products in our house – or if you go with another service like VistaPrint (with which I’ve also had fabulous results), be sure your cards have your name, contact info (cell, email), and the type of position or job title you’re seeking.
To update your business cards for the modern age, you might also want to consider including:
- A nice headshot (so people can remember your face and connect it to your information)
- A link to your professional website/blog (NOT personal ones!)
- Links to updated, professional social media accounts (particularly LinkedIn)
Just like in Tip #1, you never know who you will run into that might know someone else in your field with whom you could connect. Always be prepared to whip out a business card at the end of a particularly interesting conversation. Especially one where you’ve been able to throw in that perfected elevator pitch!
Use LinkedIn effectively.
LinkedIn has become a HUGE player in the job search market. With professional LinkedIn groups and networking through multiple generations of connections, employers are finding people to fill their openings easier than ever.
While you’re job searching, be SURE to create a complete, fully-optimized LinkedIn profile. If you’re not sure exactly what to include, talk with your local or on-campus Career Services office, shoot me a message, or talk with another resume writer. You can even check out my Pinterest board for LinkedIn job search tips!
Search for relevant, professional LinkedIn groups, join several, and be ACTIVE in sharing valuable articles you’ve found, asking questions, and responding to other people’s posts. Just like with any other social media, you’ll get the best results from LinkedIn if you’re spending time engaging with other users.
Frequently check your “suggested” contacts and send connect requests to anyone even remotely related to your field. Whenever you send a connect request to someone you haven’t met before in person, always be sure to send a private message, as well, introducing yourself, how you ran across their profile, and letting them know you’re job searching. Ask if they can help you learn more about the industry, offer tips for job searching, or connect you with someone else who might be able to offer their expertise. People are generally willing to help if you give them some practical ways to do so!
Join professional organizations & be active on THEIR social media/blogs.
Most career fields have professional organizations you can join. If you’re still a student, be sure to look for their discounted, student-membership rates. Many organizations also have a job seekers’ forum or job board either online or at their annual conferences, and sometimes both.
If you have the resources to attend your professional organization’s conference, DO IT! It’s the best networking set up you could ask for, as you’ll be surrounded by industry professionals in workshops, keynote sessions, meals, and rest times. The only way to NOT network at a conference is to hide in a corner! Make one outgoing buddy, and you’re set for the rest of the week. J
If purchasing a membership to a professional organization is financially out of reach during your search, look for inexpensive or free ways to connect and become visible within their circles. Nearly all these organizations have some form of social media to connect their members and journals, websites, or blogs to educate them about industry advances.
The key when joining an organization or a social media group is to be ACTIVE and VISIBLE. Don’t just ‘like’ a post. Comment, share, and add something valuable to the conversation. Let these professionals know you won’t just sit on the sidelines once they hire you!
Work with your Career Services department and Alumni relations to find alumni in your field.
If you happen to still be on campus or in the same town as your alma mater, stop by the Career Services or Alumni Relations office. Both departments should have lists of other alumni who are currently working in your field.
Get a handful of names and emails for promising contacts, then reach out to them. Tell the alumni you contact that you’re looking for a job in their field, and you’d love to hear any advice they can share about breaking into the industry or other contacts that would be good for you to make.
Eve if you’re not in the same town, your alma mater’s Alumni Relations or Career Services offices are only a phone call away. Most university staff will go out of their way to help alumni get connected and land great jobs. (Happily-employed alumni often give back to the school financially, so they WANT you to be happy!)
Attend local networking events.
The final piece to this networking puzzle is to just get out and MEET people. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for a few upcoming networking events. Some events will be more closely linked to your field than others, but meeting business people in any capacity can help broaden your connection pool.
Obviously, extroverts handle these types of social functions more readily than introverts, but it’s important to both energy types to just get out and DO it. Grab a friend and go mingle as a pair. There’s power in numbers and encouragement with reinforcements!
Now, it’s YOUR turn!
You now have 7 basic strategies for expanding your networking base. Go out and make those connections! I can’t wait to see what great job finds you through your new network!