Networking. At LHH this is one of our favourite topics – and something we speak passionately about because we know that a big portion of the job market is hidden. Networking can help you uncover and tap into this hidden job market – but it may need to look a bit different to traditional ‘networking’ in the current circumstances.
For some, the idea of networking brings with it feelings of nervousness or anxiety. We often hear candidates say things like “I am not a natural at networking” or “I am an introvert and networking isn’t my thing” or even “I don’t know where to start or what to say’ and we hear you! We know that this doesn’t come naturally to every personality type, however, there are some really practical things you can do to plan to actively network. Having a plan and working the plan can help you overcome challenges you may face or anticipate. We want to point out that Networking is not asking contacts for a job – rather it is a tool to learn as much as possible about the current market and exchange information with individuals. Organically through this effort, you will uncover the hidden jobs.
A plan for networking
For the Natural Networker – evening networking over snacks at a Business group is no longer possible, and business breakfasts have been cancelled until further notice. Catching a quick coffee for a networking chat before your gym session is now also off the cards. The networking you found so natural in person now needs a new approach. It is time to consider some alternative ways of networking and building or extending your network.
During the planning phase we mentioned in our last blog about job search during the crisis, you can put a plan in place for networking.
Here we share some practical things you could do to continue (or even start) networking:
1. Consider starting a virtual meeting with work friends and acquaintances.
- Make a list of possible people. With a large portion of individuals working from home with children who are doing online schooling, consider when would be the best time for such a meeting.
- Poll some of your ‘invitee list’ to see what would work for their schedule.
- Think of a list of topics that you could speak about, or simply start it to keep in social contact and support each other through this unusual time of social distancing – and allow it to evolve organically.
- Prepare a list of questions you want to ask that will help you learn about the market, organizations/companies and people. Be ready to share the information you have.
2. Look into the professional associations you are part of and see if they have any webinars or virtual meetings planned.
- Perhaps you could reach out to the leader in your area and suggest a group virtual meeting? Restrictions on Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Google Hangouts and the video calling platform Zoom have recently been relaxed by authorities.
- If you have been putting off joining professional groups that you really should already be part of, join now and benefit from their content, network and research.
3. Reach out to your current like-minded contacts to learn about online events that you could attend.
4. Make a list of your ‘peers’ in different organizations in your field ie General Managers or HR Directors or Marketing Managers. Start a regular ‘catch-up’ to network and use the opportunity to learn what is happening in other organizations and industries. We know that all over the world individuals are dealing with many challenges due to the COVID situation, expect delays in replies to your messages.
5. Spend quality time on LinkedIn,
- Read and share articles relevant to your field of expertise.
- Engage with the content that potential hirers are posting and share the insights you have.
- Contribute meaningfully to discussions, ask questions and share your ideas on solving current problems.
- Consider writing your own content to share on topics you are passionate about. Building your brand takes time and interaction on LinkedIn – and right now you have the gift of time.
- Follow posts from companies or individuals in organizations and comment when you have read their report/post/blog. Make sure your comment highlights the fact that you have read it and that you have valuable insights to contribute. Consider the fact that you are allowing them a preview of the value you would bring to the organization or team if you worked there.
- Find and join LinkedIn Professional groups – ie if you are in Marketing – search for Marking Manager groups, or if in HR look for HR Professional Groups, or IT field search for relevant Technology related groups.
6. Make a list of individuals you have been meaning to or should have thanked or encouraged or high-fived.
- Use LinkedIn to make recommendations on colleagues and associates.
- Pick up the phone and thank them in person and ask them how their ‘new normal’ is going, and how the family are coping. Offer to invite them to a virtual meeting perhaps?
7. What are your Top Value Skills? Share your insights and help a networking contact.
- Think about what skills you have that could add value to someone’s situation right now.
- Reach out to a possible hiring manager you have been in talks with, to offer some ideas that may be useful to them at this time.
How do I get started?
If you are someone who finds the idea of networking overwhelming break the ‘task’ down into chunks:
- Consider going ‘old’ school like your University days and dedicate a blank page for each of the points above.
- Consider point number 3 for instance, make a list of any professional associations you are part of. If you are not part of one do some research and see what associations are available to join.
- Consider looking at LinkedIn profiles of peers with the same or similar skills – what organizations are they part of? Note those down and investigate them.
- While you are there send the individual(s) a note to re-establish contact. Always meant to thank an individual for supporting you previously but never had the time? Well here is an opportunity to do so. In this time of stress, it is wonderful to be in touch with people and find out how they and their families may be coping during the COVID-19 situation.
The list above has only a few recommendations on how you can actively network in our new ‘online social distancing’ reality. If you were to use your Marketing Plan and consider implementing some of the 7 recommendations above, you will be doing something practical and meaningful for your job search project. As you work on your Marketing Plan and Networking efforts remember that this is something which is going to change and grow and take shape organically. As you receive new information or learn new things about your industry, role or economy you will make relevant changes adjusting the ‘plan’ as you move forward.
Everything looks different at the moment, it’s a time of change – but with change comes Opportunity – the key is to be ready and prepared to grab that opportunity when it is delivered. #Opportunitydelivered.
Our next blog focusses on how interviews are going to be different, getting yourself prepared for virtual interviews, please register on our website to ensure you get the latest blog notifications.