Wendy Mason is a Career Coach and Life Coach helping you find fresh perspectives on life and your career
If you are a new job seeker it might surprise you to learn that 60% of jobs are never advertised. That means that most vacancies are filled by word of mouth or by networking.
Why are so few vacancies advertised?
Advertising costs a lot of money. And then it takes a lot of time to sort through application forms and CVs and even more resource to interview candidates. All this can be avoided by promoting from within the organisation or by employing people who are known to them. Some organisations actively encourage their staff to refer friends with suitable skills and most are happy to receive introductions to, or approaches from, good people.
How do I begin?
Most people are anxious about networking if they’ve never done it before. Taking an organised approach and working to your plan can help you to get over your nerves.
Steps to networking!
- Make a list of the people you know – including the sector they work in and who they might know.
- Look out for networks that relate to your own sector – check out industry conferences, events and forums.
- Exploit the possibilities of social networking. Join business networking sites such as LinkedIn; look for relevant groups and organisations on social networking sites including Facebook. You could consider establishing your own networking group on LinkedIn or Facebook.
- Plan your approach. Have a clear idea of who you want to talk to or make contact with at events and online; why you are interested in the organisation and why you’re approaching them.
- Do your homework. When approaching an individual or organisation, be sure to research what they do. LinkedIn is a great tool for researching people. Get to understand their culture and the language of the sector they work in.
- Focus on what you can offer. Before setting up a networking meeting, think about what you can do for them. Could you suggest a contact that might help their business or offer to help out with a busy project they are involved in? Do you have specialist advice to offer?
- Tailor your communication. Don’t send out the same version of your speculative application letter or CV to all organisations. Make sure they are tailored to the organisation and show how your skills are relevant.
- Keep records. Keep an excel spreadsheet or a notebook listing contacts, who you’ve spoken to or written to, their contact details and their position and how you are going to follow up. This record can be invaluable if your contacts get in touch at a later date.
- Be yourself. The most important parts of networking are to be yourself and to treat other people with courtesy and respect. You don’t have to have overwhelming confidence – just remember other people at networking events may be feeling just like you. Show a real interest in other people and start a conversation, and then follow up; you will become a good networker and it will pay dividends.
If you need support in developing the confidence to network please get in touch.