Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn
Yes, yes… we have all heard that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. I mean you have 500+ connections on LinkedIn, a very active and clean Facebook page, you served as president of your student council, and have attended networking events galore. Why, why, why then aren’t there job opportunities lined up for you?
Because… it’s not who you know, but also, who knows you.
Think about it. With your 500+ connections on LinkedIn, how many professionals know your career goals? From networking events, how many know your professional interests? From your college career, how many advisors and mentors know what industry you are interested in?
Networking is not a number. It is not a check mark. It is not a thing for the social butterflies. It is definitely not a hipster phase.
Networking, first and foremost, is your ability to cultivate a relationship with another person. Secondly, it’s your ability to get your goals and objective across to your network. Third, it’s your ability to move forward with your goals and objectives, while also strengthening your network and relationships.
Nowhere in that definition does it say that it’s your ability to click the “Add” button and expect magical requests of job offers. Unfortunately for you, random people who you think serve as undercover Matchmaking Career Dons do not exist.
First, figure out exactly what your needs are. I know this is tough, but you really need to narrow your career search scope. Try to fit your needs in 1-3 sentences. For example, I am looking for an Analyst role in the marketing industry because of these industry trends. I would love to help a company progress through this and this change.
Next, take a look at your connections. Don’t just focus on professionals in marketing, but also, take a look at your church group, mom’s friends, and your neighbors.
Once you have identified 5-10 people, approach them and simply state your needs. You may have to tailor the conversation depending on who this person is:
- Marketing professional: I am looking for an analyst role in the marketing industry. Does your company offer any entry-level or internship opportunities? The industry is evolving to this and I have ___ skills to help your organization meet its goals.
- Mom’s bestie: I am graduating soon, and am looking to start my career at a marketing firm. Do you know anyone in the industry or any companies looking to hire entry-level business/marketing/communication majors?
During this phase, you are aiming to connect with your network and build trust. Politely and plainly, help your network understand your career goals so that they can figure out how to help you. Make sure you come across confident (but humble) and knowledgeable (but willing to learn). Once you are done speaking, listen. Just be quiet and listen. Don’t interrupt. Just listen. You will be surprised by what you learn about yourself and your career search techniques just by listening to your network.
The Beginnings of Not-Working
Here are some more common reasons why your networking ends up not working:
- Your request to network is too complicated. For example, “Hi. I am looking to get a degree in Marketing, but wanted to connect with Managers to learn about the industry and job outlook once I finish.” Really? First of all, there’s Google Search for that. Secondly, why do you feel someone will take the time to talk to you when you haven’t even started your Marketing degree, and more importantly, don’t you think the Marketing professional will only have good things to say about Marketing?
- Your request to network is too time-consuming. Networking doesn’t have to be done over coffee or lunch. If your network doesn’t know your motive behind these so-called time-consuming networking dates, it is difficult to agree to it. Utilize yours and your networks’ time thoughtfully and wisely. Make sure they know why you want to meet up, instead of asking to meet up surprisingly, out of the blue.
- You make too many assumptions. Yes, your whole neighborhood may know you are at university. They may even know you are graduating. They do not, however, know you are job searching. They do not know your industry interest, career interest, or even you knowledge, skills, and abilities. Do NOT assume they do.
- Reputation. You sit next to Mr. Franklin at church every Sunday. Aside from church, however, Mr. Franklin does not know you. If you ask him for a networking request, please realize that you are putting his professional and social reputation on the line. Please note that oftentimes, individuals may be iffy about connecting you. That’s because their reputation is on the line. If they don’t connect you with someone, don’t take it personally. Assess your network prior to a request.
Good luck. Remember, networking is all about building trust. If it’s not there, your networking is not working.