Sick of accumulating worthless contacts? Ever find yourself going scrolling through your LinkedIn connections and saying, "Why am I connected with this person? We have nothing in common!"
If you want your networking efforts to really pay off, you need to be efficient and intentional. Here are some ways to get the most out of your professional network.
Set Up A Bucket List Of Companies
What companies do you see yourself working for? What problems do you want to solve? Make a list of companies that you admire. What companies have you always wanted to work for? What are your dream companies? Figure them out and make a bucket list.
This is the first step in building an efficient network because it helps you get your job search organized! Sure, you can search the internet for random job opportunities and get lucky. But, the process is a lot more efficient if you have a particular group of companies that you're always tracking, and you start building a professional network within those companies.
This process particularly comes in handy during times of recession when the job market is especially competitive.
Set Up Informational Interviews
Once you've determined what companies you want in your bucket list, you need to set up some interviews—not with the hiring team, but with the employees. When you're conducting an informational interview, the focus is always on the person you're interviewing and their work. Areas to focus on when conducting an informational interview:
- Their work
- Their experience
- How they got the job
Your goal during an informational interview is to build a meaningful connection with this person. This establishes a relationship that you can continue by email. You do this by:
- Making meaningful conversation
- Becoming memorable
- Building trust and respect
Find Your Commonalities
A person who works for a company on your bucket list most likely shares some commonalities with you. Your goal in networking with them is to learn what those commonalities are. This will help you get a better understanding of why you're a good fit for that company.
Remember, finding these commonalities is why you're networking with these people, not just because you want to work at their company.
Talk About Your Process
When the conversation turns toward you, this is when you talk about your process. Emphasize what kinds of problems you want to solve and why this company is on your bucket list. Then, tell them why you admire their company.
It's important to emphasize that you're not just meeting with them in hopes of getting a job at their company. Tell them you're interested in learning more about what you both have in common as professionals, and that you're looking to network and share ideas in the future. That way, you're being transparent about your goals, but they won't feel used.
To review, these are the best ways to make the most out of your networking efforts:
- Don't be random with your networking efforts
- Determine what companies you'd like to work for
- Set up informational interviews with people from those companies
- Focus on their work, experience, and how they got the job
- Figure out what you have in common with them
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