Network Your Way to Your Next Job

By Amy Geffen

As a professional, whether you work in for-profit or non-profit, you are familiar with networking to build your contacts for partnering, sales, fundraising, and increasing your knowledge of your industry.  As a job seeker,  there are some key strategies you need to use to build relationships for a successful job campaign.

1. Alumni

No matter your country or origin or the country where you attended university or received your degree, you need to build relationships with alumni. So, whether you attended your local community college or a state university or a top ranked university, alumni connections are critical for your job search. Here is how you can connect to alumni from your graduating class, five or ten years before you graduated, or even earlier.  You may find alumni on LinkedIn by searching for the name of your school or university. Then search by the city where you live now in the US, then look at the companies where they work.  When you click on the company you can scroll down the page to find the names and photos of dozens of alumni.  Then you can ask to connect by adding a private note that says, “I noticed we are both alumni from (Name of your school). Let’s connect.”  Once they accept your connection, you can write a message asking to learn more about their career path.  Then set up a phone call or Zoom meeting.

2. Professional Association

As a member of Savvy Ladies, you already know the benefits of joining: meeting other professionals, attending events, learning more about your craft.  In addition to Savvy Ladies, you might wish to join another organization or two in your chosen field or industry.  There is an association for every professional. If you are a lawyer, you join the ABA. If you are a manager, you can join the American Management Association. If you are a mechanical engineer, you can join ASME International.  If you are in human resources, SHRM is your go to organization.  Find the organization for your field, join it, and get involved with committees and continuing education.

3. Volunteering

Even though you are busy with your day job, it is worth your time to volunteer for a cause you believe in, whether that is a local soup kitchen or food pantry or visiting the sick. Or, if you have children, go to their soccer or little league games, or join the Parents Association of your children’s school.  Or, perhaps, you join the board of your condo or co-op building. Why volunteer? Volunteering puts you in touch with lots of other people who share your passion and interest. Building relationships with these people allows you to tap into their networks. They may connect you to other professionals who know of opportunities in your chosen field. You can add the volunteering to fill a gap on your resume.  You may get a reference from the person in charge of the volunteers.

4. Civic or religious organizations. 

When you join the Elks, the Masons, or the Lions Club, you can build relationships with other professionals who can then introduce you to their colleagues. When you join a church, temple, synagogue, or mosque you see people weekly and develop friendships. Everyone has their own network of 100-200 people.  Some of these people may be in your field, or know people in your field, and can then introduce you to potential hiring managers.

5. Hobbies

What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?  Whether you are an avid reader or golfer, card player or sports fan, you can find a group of like-minded souls who share your interest.  So, when you join a book club, an adult soccer league, the local gym, or take a class at the local community center, you meet people with like interests.  They too have networks of professionals, some of whom might be useful for your job search. Remember: The key to getting your next job is building relationships to get meetings that lead to jobs.  Research has long shown that anywhere from half to upwards of 80% of jobs are filled through networking

Amy Geffen, PhD, President of Geffen Careers, is a career coach, leadership trainer, educator, and author. Contact Amy here.

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