The types of jobs you can get in 2016 are vastly different than what were available decades ago, all thanks to technological advancement. Furthermore, just as the careers available to prospective workers have transformed, so has the way we seek out jobs. Simply sending in applications to openings found on job listing resources no longer seals the deal. Networking is now the ticket to landing most jobs, which means you have to have connections to get desired positions. A large majority of lucrative jobs can no longer be found by scoping the classified section or browsing Craigslist. You have to know someone who already has experience in the industry and ask them to put in a good word for you. If you don’t have the right connections, this problem is easily solvable.
Some job seekers believe that in order to be successful on LinkedIn, they need 500+ connections. This is a huge misconception about connections and what they do for you.
For Job Seekers
What’s important is that you are connected to the people you should be connected to, and reaching out to managers (not asking to connect) in your field about who you are and what you can do for them.
Who Needs Lots of Connections?
Some professions (like recruiters) need a large number of connections in order to operate effectively.
When you are on LinkedIn, you are visible to all recruiters when they search for keywords. So, if you are trying to get noticed by recruiters (who are searching for people to fill jobs) on LinkedIn, it’s not really the connections that do it—it’s your profile.
What Matters for You on LinkedIn
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Why does it matter how many LinkedIn connections you have? Because when it comes to your network, bigger is better.
If you don't know how many people are in your LinkedIn network, Mary Cummins posted instructions for how to see how many connections you have on LinkedIn.
If I'm not part of your network, connect with me today: http://www.linkedin.com/in/PeggyMckee1
“Networking” is that fragile web of connections you have with other people and volunteering can strengthen that web in several ways. Here are some of the advantages a voluntary approach to networking can add to your career:
- Maintaining activity through volunteer work in your field keeps you in contact with potential employers and co-workers. When an opening comes up, they remember meeting you at several events. They also remember what you were like to work with! Staying active is good for you too, because it keeps you in the habit of productivity.
Common wisdom suggests that when you have found a new job you quit hunting for a new one. This is a mistake that the vast majority of professionals make and it’s one that is typically detrimental to their careers. Constantly looking for new opportunities not only keeps you current with what positions are available, it also keeps you fresh in your current position.
Continuing to search for a new position isn’t necessarily an active pursuit. When you are reasonably happy in your current position and not really looking to change either your career or your employer, job search takes on a more passive role. Much of what you do during an active job search is ignored, such as cold calling, applications and interviewing. In a passive job search you keep your resume updated and you occasionally examine what is open in your field.
Many people know that networking is important to their careers, but few understand how to effectively use their networking contacts when looking for a new job. Networking isn’t difficult, but is necessary, as it can be a very important tool in your job search strategy.
When you are actively looking for a new job, it’s always important to be dressed appropriately, use proper etiquette, and mingle comfortably at professional gatherings and events. Keep business cards with you and ensure that your contact information is always current. If you click with someone and they ask you to give them a call to follow-up to discuss a potential, be sure you do so within 1-2 business days.
Networking is one of those activities that gets shelved because you are busy. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those activities that needs to be consistent in order to do any good to your career. This is because the nature of networking is relationships, and if you only connect with people when you need them, you are viewed in a negative light. You also miss out on a lot of positive things when you don’t connect, so it’s a good idea to put it on your schedule.
If LinkedIn Is A Garden, It Has Weeds
Connie lost her Director-level job in the high-tech industry and is looking for another executive-level position. These positions are high-risk positions to fill for any company (lots of money and power involved--repercussions from decisions made by this person can last a long time). Check out Connie's story about how she used the promise of a 90 to 180-Day Plan to make a nervous, unsure hiring manager excited to interview her, and much more open to the idea of hiring her:
I've been using all of your tools since I lost my job 4 weeks ago. I found you by following a link on LinkedIn; your program looked like exactly what I needed to launch my search.
By way of context, I'm in the high tech industry, specifically in outsourcing. My last position was at the director level but the company was relatively small, an EMS company with about $60M USD in revenue. It was a mistake going there in the first place as I am much better suited to large global companies. I'm armed with an MBA in International business, several languages, and 20 years of experience in strategic sourcing.
One of my LinkedIn connections knows the hiring manager at a large global OEM struggling to rationalize outsourcing across 60 countries; they need someone with my exact skill set including fluency in German. Imagine that!
The hiring manager, VP Operations, called me today (bypassing HR:). Luckily he was already pre-sold on me and had obtained executive approval to create a position in Global Sourcing. We spoke for a few minutes but it was clear that he was not sure exactly what he is looking for. He was only able to outline the little he knows about the challenge. He's new to his position as well and sounded nervous about the high visibility "my" position would have (big risk). And he was unsure how to proceed. He said "I guess we should meet so you can take me through your resume, what do you think?"
SO...I said "How about this; sure I'll take you through my background so you can see how I've been successful in similar roles in the past. Then, why don't I show you a brief powerpoint presentation outlining how I will approach this position in the first 3-6 months so that you see my thought process and what you can expect?" His response was "Are you serious? Wow, that would be fantastic! Is it ok with you if I invite a few other executives?"
I will let you know how this works out! I'm so excited and very very glad I followed all aspects of your program.
If you are in an executive job search, please get your copy of my complementary guide, 10 Steps to Executive Job Search Success.
Did you know that introverts can be great networkers? They just go about networking in a different mode than the extrovert, and since a lot of the advice you see on networking for your career seems to be geared toward those extroverts, the combination of introvert/networking has to be redefined.
Search Engine Journal usually is a site visited by marketers and webmasters, those interested in tech-savvy networking of the internet kind. But a recent article by Mindy Weinstein looks at 5 Networking Tips for the Tech-Savvy and Introverted, because even internet gurus have to do interpersonal networking for their career.
Here are 4 keys to give you have the kind of professional network that will serve you well in your job search and career:
1. Contact your current contacts.
When's the last time you gathered up a list of all the people you know and have met in your work life? I bet the number of people you know would surprise you. Now--how many of those would you feel comfortable contacting for a job lead? Probably not so many. The key to being able to tap this resource (your network) when you need it is to nourish it when you don't. Here's how:
Despite myself, the choices I made and life activities I got involved in, I did pretty good getting to where I am today.
There are three very specific insights I now have that I wish I would have known and better yet, fully understood as I walked off that stage. I’ll share them with you so that you may find them useful or discover your own insights that can be beneficial to you in your journey through life.
Insight # 1 - Build strong positive networks of people in your life
Queen Latifah said,”Look at people for an example, but then make sure to do things your way. Surround yourself with positive people.”
Colin Powell said, "Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”
We talked some more before I decided to write this article.
Some people network looking for an opportunity, a prospect, a deal or maybe a job. I stopped doing this years ago.
In most of our lives there are three unique networks of people.
Your Community Connections is the second network of people in your life. These are people in the schools, charities, civic groups and churches you attend or visit. Your neighbors can be members of this network as well.
Your Business Connections is the third unique and important network of people. This includes your fellow employees, business partners and customers. Your mechanic, plumber and hairstylist could be members of this network.
Individually these networks can help in your life, community, career and business. When you let these networks organically overlap, the benefits become far more rewarding.
You can only reap the benefits of networking if you put forth deliberate effort with focus.
Deliberate means "doing something consciously and intentionally.” Focus means to "pay particular attention to.”
Often when people head off to networking events they do so believing they are there to find a new business opportunity, leads, referrals or a job. Even though this could be their primary purpose in life, career, business or community, it’s not the primary purpose of networking.
Being focused on your primary purpose while networking is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. It could be there, but the likelihood of finding it is minuscule and it’s a waste of time.