Everyone understands the importance of networking, but it can often appear intimidating. That said, in the highly competitive market of job hunting, networking is an invaluable skill that can be the difference between scoring a job or not.
Networking is not always about making your way around a crowded room with a stack of business cards in hand. It is simply the process of building genuine relationships and developing contacts. Informal networking is just as, or even more important than formal networking. You never know where or when you might meet someone who can aid you in your job search.
Wondering how to start networking in the first place? Here are some tips:
Whether you realize it or not, you are networking everywhere you go! Casual conversations with family, friends and even strangers are opportunities to build up your network and potentially inform you of job prospects.
Centre for Skills Employment Specialist, Pippa Parnham, stresses the importance of being prepared and to keep your 'elevator pitch' in mind. "Think of your pitch like a movie preview, it will feature the best bits of you. Imagine stepping into an elevator with the owner of your dream company. Within 30-60 seconds you must convince them that you are an invaluable asset. Being confident with your pitch will ensure that you will be ready to network at any given moment."
Focus on Relationships
Networking should not be only self-fulfilling. It isn't about promoting yourself; it's about building connections. Look for ways that you can help those in your network, and they will want to help you in return.
A great option for this is volunteering; working for a non-profit group or a charitable event will help you build lasting connections.
Ensure that you are investing in your network by following up and thanking your connections. Keep in touch with people who have helped you in the past or may help you in the future.
Once you have made a connection with someone, close the conversation proactively.
"Don't be afraid to be assertive. Ask to connect with them on LinkedIn or propose a time to meet with them again," says Pippa. "The worst-case scenario is that you never hear from them again, so put your best foot forward."
According to experts, up to 80% of jobs are not posted publicly. In this case, networking is the key to accessing the hidden job market. Someone in your network may know about a job opportunity, giving you the advantage of having a chance before anyone else does.
Register for one of our Accessing the Hidden Job Market workshops in September to learn more about networking and other strategies to tap into the hidden job market:
When: September 10th
Time: 10:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Where: 2225 Erin Mills Parkway, Unit 1200, Lower Level, Mississauga
Click here to register for our Accessing the Hidden Job Market Workshop in Clarkson
When: September 12th
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Where:550 Ontario Street South, Suite 208, Milton
Click here to register for our Accessing the Hidden Job Market Workshop in Milton