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How to Leverage Your Network to Find Your Next Career Opportunity August 26, 2020

Unless you’ve been in a time-warp, you’ve noticed that the economy is shifting rapidly. Great employees are looking for new jobs and employers who need to fill critical positions are now wading through more applications than ever.

How do you find a job that not only pays the bills but can also provide security and a feeling of accomplishment?

Use your network.

I know, I know, networking as we knew it in 2019 is gone. I hear all the introverts cheering – No more mindless chit-chat while nibbling on a lukewarm chicken wing and wondering what the heck to do with the sauce all over your hand as someone new shows up to shake it.

The new networking model requires you to do more than just reach out on social networks and ask for a connection.

Most think the shortest distance to a destination is a straight line. With networking, the most circuitous route is often the most successful. In other words, you don’t know who you know that knows someone that can help you!

One of my favorite, albeit time-consuming, ways to use my network is to reach out to everyone! Here’s how:

  • Create an action plan to reach out to everyone in your personal and professional contacts. Seriously, if you are “friends” with them on FB or linked to them on LinkedIn, or they have space in your phone – this is the list to use.
  • Note that the “once removed” contacts can be even more valuable than those you talk to every day.
  • Reach out to 10 a week either through email, phone call, or direct messages. Do this every weekday until you are happily settled in your new role.
  • Track your connections. Use an excel spreadsheet, analog notebook, or other tool to track who you’ve contacted, when you contacted them, pertinent facts, as well as follow-up actions.

What do you say?

Here’s an example you can follow. Be sure to tweak it to make it your own.

  • Each message should be brief, personal, and clear about why you’re reaching out.

“Hi NAME, it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch and I hope you’re well. Things have been XX with me lately and I’ve recently been riffed/fired/furloughed (or whatever your situation is.) My intention in reaching out is to reconnect and to let you know that [I’ve noticed XXX position on your company’s website and am wondering if you have any tips as I apply?; I’m in the market for a new role, ideally in XX industry/doing XX work] and I hope you’ll think of me if anything comes to mind. Thanks for your time today and please let me know how you are. I’d love to connect on a deeper level when it’s more convenient. Sincerely, YOUR NAME”

  • When contacts respond, make sure you thank them and reply in a timely matter. If someone offers to have a chat with you, say “yes,” even if you can’t easily see how they can put you in line for your next job. Trust me, you don’t know who they know, and having a brief chat during your job-hunt with 100 people will expand your network by more than a thousand (at least).
  • Keep a list of specific outcomes you’d like to have at the end of a call – whether it’s the name of a hiring authority for a role you’ve seen online, or an idea of how to best present your skills for the role in question, or even tips for reaching out to your network!
  • Always ask how you can be of service to the person you’re talking with. Keeping the door open to future conversations is a great way to build and expand your network in the short and long-term.
  • Unless your contact has lined you up directly with an interview for a job that you feel is a great fit (or even a possible fit), there’s no need to write a snail mail thank you – although it’s always a really nice touch. If a contact does line you up with a job that you ultimately land, be sure to let them know and feel free to go the extra mile and send them a small gift card or a book you know they’ll appreciate (check their amazon wish list) to say thanks.

Networking is not about small talk, it’s about mutual understanding. Find out how you can be of service while being clear how you want to be helped. Although being out of work is never fun, this can be an outstanding time for you to calibrate on your career vision while also building real relationships with other humans. Humans love to connect and to help each other – what a wonderful gift you give when you provide that opportunity.

Of course, my final tip is that you return the favor for anyone in your network who is reaching out. As they say, “we’re not all in the same boat, but we are in the same sea!”

Written by: PEGGIE ARVIDSON, Executive Recruiter

Peggie Arvidson started recruiting in junior high school when she convinced her classmates to join her in creating a ski club. Since then, she’s held many positions from sales to recruiting to non-profit leadership and quality assurance.  Her focus in her life and career is helping people to find their right work for the right pay because she believes that when people are happy at work, they are secure in life, and happy people change the world for the better.

Peggie has moved more than 30 times across 5 states and three time zones, and is not a military brat. She can usually be found walking around Williamsburg, tasting new foods, and searching out hidden beauty whenever she’s not at work.


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