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How to network professionally to land job opportunities

Updated: Jun 27


 

In today's job market, your network is more than just a group of acquaintances—it's a powerful tool for finding new and unexpected career opportunities.

Did you know that over half of all jobs are filled through networking? That means people helping people find jobs, whether that's a friend, former boss, or even your aunt – your professional network can come to your rescue in ways that you wouldn't expect!

Online and Offline Networking

Networking comes in two main forms: online and offline. While online networking leverages platforms like LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter), offline networking involves face-to-face interactions. Both have their unique advantages:

  • Online Networking: Easily accessible, scalable, and great for building international connections.

  • Offline Networking: Allows for personal engagement and the development of deeper connections.


Quick Tips

  • Online: Maintain a professional profile on sites like LinkedIn, X, and even Reddit. Use these platforms regularly to reap the rewards.

  • Offline: Have a well-prepared elevator pitch and always carry business cards on you. Your pitch should take no more than 30 - 60 seconds to present, and it should serve as a TLDR to your career.


Why Authenticity Matters in Networking

Superficial connections may grow your network numerically, but genuine relationships are what lead to opportunities and long-term success. Authenticity in networking means:

  • Know what you bring to the table and how you can help others.

  • Show interest in others and understand their needs - actively listen and THEN engage

  • Don't oversell yourself; be honest and transparent in your interactions.

  • Don't treat people as a means to an end. You probably wouldn't wanna be treated that way either.

Strategies and Challenges in Networking

Let's talk strategy – how do you build up a network you can rely on when the going gets tough?

  • Use LinkedIn and X. Just don't post your resume publicly on either. Instead, wait for people to be interested enough to ASK for it.

  • Talk to people. Seriously, reach out to people that perhaps do the same thing you do now, or those that are in positions you want to be in. You'll probably get some rejections sure, but you may also get some people willing to share a minute or two of their time.

  • Hit up your alumni network at school. Lots of people there that would probably help by virtue of having a school in common.

  • Attend virtual events like online conferences and webinars for opportunities to connect with people in your space.

  • In-person industry meetups, conferences, and trade shows are great for those real face-to-face interactions.


Challenges

I get it - networking can be scary for some. Just remember that a lot of people are open to connecting, especially when approached with real interest. Just don't treat the connection as transactional.

Couple things to remember though:

  • Don't get pushy. Aggressively asking for a job or favor can be off-putting.

  • Be prepared. Know who you're talking to and what you want to ask or share. If you're unsure what to say, prepare in advance (you may even want to recite your intro, purpose, and a question or two).


When you finally do land a connection, you gotta maintain it, otherwise they'll get cold. This obviously becomes harder and harder the more people you know, and at that point, it becomes necessary to prioritize connections (Steve Dalton's LAMP method outlines a great way to do this).

Some tools I personally have used in the past to make building and managing relationships a little easier:

  • Apps like Notion or even a well-maintained Excel spreadsheet.

  • Books like "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi offer deeper insights into networking.

  • Having ready-to-use email templates for follow-up emails saves time and ensures you don't miss opportunities. Please don't use ChatGPT and just copy and paste the responses - it's obvious when you use AI generated content.


PS: I've created a toolbox that has all of these tools, and more. Check it out here.

An example of successful networking at play

When I met my business partner Alex, he was working for a small engineering company in a small town a couple of hours north of Edmonton. Our acquaintance began on Reddit, where he was looking to leverage his experience in screening environmental professionals to start a side hustle. I was seeking help to run my resume writing business. It was an odd match, but it worked out well for both of us.

Alex shared his story of landing a job with SolidEarth six years prior. As a recent graduate, he was unemployed and feeling hopeless after applying to numerous environmental science jobs without success. During a visit to his family in Bonnyville, Alberta, his brother-in-law (BIL) suggested he call a friend who owned an engineering company that did environmental work.

Alex called Jay and gave a 30-second pitch about his background in biology with an environmental focus. Jay was hiring and appreciated Alex's skills in data analysis and report writing, despite his lack of direct experience. They arranged to meet the next month, and Alex was offered a job shortly after.

Key Takeaways for Job Seekers

  • Network beyond your immediate circle: Alex’s job opportunity arose from a casual conversation with his brother-in-law, not through formal applications or job boards. Leverage your extended network.

  • Be open about your job search: Sharing your career goals and frustrations can lead to unexpected opportunities. People need to know you’re looking for help to offer assistance.

  • Practice your elevator pitch: Alex was ready with a brief, engaging summary of his background, which helped him seize the opportunity. Prepare a clear pitch to make a strong impression quickly.

  • Consider unconventional leads: Be open to exploring all opportunities, even those that don't seem directly related to your field initially. Alex's lead came from an unexpected source.

  • Highlight transferable skills: Focus on how your existing skills can be applied to new roles. Alex emphasized his report writing and data analysis skills, which were valuable to Jay.

  • Be flexible and eager: Willingness to take on various tasks can make you a more attractive candidate, especially in smaller companies. Alex's flexibility was a key factor in his success.

  • Be persistent: Despite numerous rejections, Alex didn’t give up. Keep applying, networking, and refining your approach. The right opportunity might be just around the corner.

 

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