Everyone talks about networking all the time. In fact, you have probably been told at least once that networking is the most important thing you should be doing as a job-seeker in Finland. It may feel daunting to start putting yourself out there, but at its core networking is relatively straightforward.
In this blog post, our career coach Yvonne Westerlund shares her insights on networking and how to do it effectively. The intention is to make it easier for you to start your relevant networking, both online and on-site, to repeat what works for you, and to reach your goal. You will also find concrete tips to instantly elevate your networking game, so read on!
We need connections in all areas of life, be they with our families, nurturing love and friendship, or keeping up with existing relationships.
It is about farming, not hunting. Do create the network so it is ready for you when you need it.
Find the hidden jobs
Companies seldom hire total strangers. This means that hiring managers look for candidates with some kind of referral to the company. These days, when most jobs are hidden, networking skills are key. As application screening is the hardest part to pass, personal contacts are what will get you to the first interview stage. We all have friends and acquaintances, but how relevant are they for our job search? After having exhausted this network, we find ourselves standing alone.
This is where the relevant and strategic networking kicks in.
You may cringe at the thought of contacting total strangers out of the blue. But ask yourself: What will change when I network? The bigger the company, the more internal networking is needed to break through. Network yourself as who you are, and be willing to offer back as well.
We learn on the go, we see results in real time, and this is very gratifying. Getting used to doing something new is what we have been doing all our lives, sometimes without giving the learning process much of a thought. This is how we learn and develop to be more resourceful and looking for connections.
When we start doing something we have never done before, new things will happen.
Your networking strategy: online and on-site
Keep these in mind when you look for networking opportunities:
Who is relevant to me? Where are they located? When is the best time to contact them?
LinkedIn is the most popular online platform for professional networking, so do consider reaching out to your connections on there first with a direct message. If you feel uncomfortable with LinkedIn, you can try looking up their job email and start from there.
For on-site networking, the best places to make personal contacts are Career Fairs or Industry Events. Whatever the forum is, be prepared to have your pitch ready.
About your pitch
The pitch is what leads you to the right people to start talking about job opportunities. You will need to tailor your personal pitch for different discussions. Create an clear, short, and informative pitch that you can always lean on when meeting new people.
Here is one example of how to frame it:
Hello, I am [name] and I am a professional [skill], [skill] and [skill]. My experience is in [industry] and as a seasoned [job role], I am looking for opportunities in [field]. I am looking forward to connecting with like-minded professionals to talk about [topic of interest] in our field.
Practice your pitch in front of a mirror and/or with a friend. Take your time, feel in you that your pitch is really about you. With enough practice, your pitch will soon become second nature that you can rely on anytime.
Show up on time at networking events and set targets
First, choose 2-3 people to set as mini-targets. Aim to create a genuine connection with someone you feel comfortable reaching out to later. Move on to the next conversation. Ask others who else you could meet and talk to? Follow up on discussions, go for lunch, or invite them to a early morning coffee.
If your target is a speaker, know when and where they will speak.
If your target is a company, know when they will have the ‘demo’ time to fuel your discussions and have the possibility to express your interests in the product first, then the company.
When you do this, you let your knowledge shine. Enter all discussions with a positive and professional vibe. Connect, follow up, and keep conversations going.
An effective way of networking on LinkedIn
Ask yourself: Who is relevant for your network? Bearing in mind what you can offer in return. You have a reason to network. You know your industry, your specialty, and you now have a clearer picture of how you can help.
Be strategic and proactive. Train that networking muscle. Be consistent, choose the date and hour when to do this and commit to it.
Here’s a good saying that encapsulates the networking journey in a nutshell.
“The slow road is the quick one”. When we set our mind on something, we want to make change, to achieve what we don’t have.
Hopefully, this blog has inspired you to feel more confident in your ability and given you some tips to improve your networking efforts. Just like any other soft skill, networking gets easier the more you put yourself out there and reach out to your connections.
If you find this helpful, consider subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media to keep up-to-date with our programs and events. And look out for more content from us on job search and entrepreneurship as well. We wish you all the success in your professional journey!
Author: Yvonne Westerlund
Editor: Evan Bui