Ask anyone what their least favorite part of the job search is and they'll likely say "networking." Although all professionals, not just job seekers, should actively be building their professional network, nothing can help you find a job quite like a strong online networking strategy.
Online networking should be the foundation of your job search. It should be the main focus, the priority. A strong networking strategy will help you network your way into a new company by allowing you to go around job boards and avoid the ATS. It is, simply, the best, most effective way to find a new job.
If the thought of networking scares you, you're definitely not alone. But, in order to find your next job and grow your career, you need to overcome your fears and make online networking a priority. Here are a few things to know about online networking before you start building your professional network for career and job search success.
When It Comes To Networking, Quality Is Better Than Quantity
With online networking, it's easier to meet people and add them to your professional network. But, if you're connected with hundreds or even thousands of people on LinkedIn, how many of those people do you actually talk to on a regular basis? How many of those connections do you have an actual professional relationship with?
As you build your professional network, remember that quality is always better than quantity. What good is it to have a lot of connections if they're not providing you with any value, and you're not providing them with any value either?
One of the aspects of an effective job search strategy we teach at Work It Daily is the interview bucket list, which is a list of the top 10-20 companies you'd love to work for. With an interview bucket list, you are able to conduct a targeted job search by proactively trying to network your way into those companies through reaching out to current or past employees. This means the quality of your connections will be better than if you were just connecting with a bunch of random hiring managers and other professionals not directly related to your job search or career goals.
Online Networking Is About Connection
You might not like the idea of online networking because you think it's all about asking for favors, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
Strategic networking is about connection. Effectively building your professional network revolves around connecting with others through common experiences, interests, and goals. Think about it. That's how you build relationships, right? That's how you make friends. So, the foundation of every relationship, including professional relationships, is connection through those things. It is not about asking for favors. It is not about the give and take.
Once you connect with someone and establish a relationship with them, you want to consistently provide them with value—you want prove yourself to be a valuable connection and person to have in their network. You do this by sharing relevant content, introducing them to other connections, and offering your support. It's only after you establish a relationship with someone in your network that you'll ask them for a favor, and feel comfortable doing so. And they won't hesitate to help you out because they know you'd do the same for them. That type of relationship is only possible through genuine connection.
A Strong LinkedIn Profile Makes A Big Difference
Most of your online networking will probably happen on LinkedIn, the popular social networking platform for professionals of all ages and skill levels. Not only is a strong, optimized LinkedIn profile a crucial tool in your job search, but to your peers, it also helps you seem like a credible person in your industry—a person someone would want to connect with and learn more about.
To optimize your LinkedIn profile so you stand out as someone with authority and credibility in your industry (and also as an active member on the platform) add keywords to your headline, fill out your "About" section, and change your profile photo to a photo where you look professional, yet approachable.
If you're trying to build your professional network on LinkedIn, remember that when you're networking on that platform your LinkedIn profile is someone's first impression of you. Make sure it's a good one.
Want More Networking Opportunities?
Now that you know how important networking is and you're ready to overcome your networking fears, you might be wondering where to find the best networking opportunities.
Well, good news!
With a Work It Daily subscription, you get access to our one-of-a-kind professional community with unlimited networking opportunities!