When you ask someone how they got a job at a startup, they'll most likely say "oh I just knew someone there and next day I got an interview." That's probably the most frustrating explanation you could hear when you are on the job hunt. You ask yourself-- how does that person have a job and I don't? From my experience, networking is key. Unfortunately, networking has such a bad reputation. Many people fear doing it or have no idea what it means. In my opinion, it is just a fancy word to to describe asking people questions and creating long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Well that sounds exhausting, but professional networking is the most beneficial tactic you can employ to not only advance your career but also help others.
Personally, I've applied to more than 200 jobs online, but the jobs I've gotten were landed solely through networking. Scary, I know. Here's the thing though-- it wasn't easy. It took a lot of trial and error to learn how to "master" networking. Need help finding a job? Check out my top tips for career networking:
Don't overthink it:
Networking doesn't have to be as scary as people make it out to be. You simply have to talk to people about their passions. There's no need to overthink the process. Figure out what's most effective for you. Some people are more comfortable at a big networking event and some others at an intimate coffee chat.[bctt tweet="Make networking less stressful by figuring out which type works for you @lavidacomolamia"]
Be shameless and fearless:
You are either looking for a job because you are unemployed or feel stuck at your current job, so what do you have to lose in introducing yourself? In order to thrive at a startup you have to be comfortable with risk and making mistakes, so stop letting fear get in the way from talking to people.[bctt tweet="What's there to lose? Stop letting fear stop you from networking, says @lavidacomolamia"]
Create a strategy:
You should think of job hunt as a sales job. The MVP being you. Create a KPI measure on how you plan to attain your goal. Maybe create a weekly target of emailing new contacts three times a week and going to a networking event once a week.
Be strategic when you choose these events, making sure they are in fact relevant to your end goal. Are you hoping to get a job referral or interview? Do you want to go to a networking event to learn more about an industry or simply to meet new people in the industry? Create clear goals and analyze what has worked and what hasn't.[bctt tweet="Make sure your networking pursuits are relevant to your end goal, says @lavidacomolamia"]
Don't waste time - get to the point:
Some people you will meet will be able to talk about their experience with very little guidance from you, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't always be prepared. If you are asking a very busy person to have coffee with you, the best thing you can do is be polite but clear with them them what you are looking to learn about from them. Gage and timing before getting to your ask.[bctt tweet="Be respectful of people's time by being clear on your goals and asks. @lavidacomolamia"]
Build the relationship and give back:
The most fruitful networking encounters occur when you also offer to help out. Suggest that you introduce them to someone who’d make a specifically meaningful connection for them or see if you can help assist them with something they’re working on. Keep those contacts at front-of-mind for when additional opportunities arise-- by nurturing the relationship and adding-value for them as well, you’ll be more likely to develop mutual trust. Trust is super important when you are building a relationship, so if you can show someone that the relationship is a two way street, they’ll be more be open to connecting with you again down the road.[bctt tweet="Networking is a two-way street. Don't forget to build and nurture trust. @lavidacomolamia"]
Be an opportunist:
As you've created your networking strategy, you may have realized that there are certain key players you want to meet. You go to an event where they might be and you can't find them. Here’s where you should abandon your carefully-crafted strategy: don’t forget about the rest of the people there! You never know what connections will prove to be meaningful right now, or later down the road. It always pays to be nice and help others as well.[bctt tweet="Be strategic in networking, but know when to abandon strategy, says @lavidacomolamia"]