More than 80 percent of all jobs are found through networking, according to a recent study published on LinkedIn.
Here are six steps to help someone who is looking for work (along with two bonus ideas for when they get a great connection).
1. Get your mindset right
Desperation is not referable. Since you’ll be depending on your network to speak highly of you to their hiring manager and contacts, practice confidently touting your skills.
2. Image-check your social media
Potential employers will — and you won’t want to make your network look bad if they stick their neck out and recommend you.
I was once considering hiring someone, and I checked out his Facebook page. OMG! He threw out the “F” bomb time after time on his posts. In addition, he posted widely inappropriate comments and tirades about people. He was not the kind of influence I wanted in my office.
In addition, Google your name to see what all pops up. You don’t want to be surprised about what’s out there.
3. Start with your current relationships
Reach out to friends, family and business contacts in person, on LinkedIn and via social media to tell them exactly what kind of position you’re looking for. Ask if they can check for any upcoming openings and keep you in mind.
4. Inventory your other connections
Don’t forget to check in with neighbors, professional organizations, past customers and community organizations for more contacts. When it comes to referrals for employment, don’t underestimate the strength of weak ties. After you talk to your close connections, this can be a good source of referrals for business opportunities.
5. Determine where you stand with these contacts
Whether they are active, passive or dormant will determine the strategy. Here’s how to approach each:
Active: Pick up the phone and ask for assistance. There’s a relationship. They will most likely love to help.
Passive: Set an appointment to reconnect (preferably in person). Find out about them and let them know you’re looking for something.
Dormant: Reconnect by social media or email. Just talk. Don’t ask for anything — yet. Stay in touch; build the relationship before you ask.
6. Visit organizations in the industry you want
Network right there, on the ground. Visit relevant associations and drop in to companies that you’d love to work for. Check in with the front desk, drop your résumé off in-person and ask to meet with the HR director.
Better yet, find out if someone in your network can connect you to a current employee in that company. Contact them through the referral. Meet them for coffee and come prepared.
Now, here’s the next step. Once you get a referral, do these two critical things:
1. Research your prospective employer
Never go in without being prepared on the history of the company, their latest press releases, their corporate culture and values — whatever you can find.
Checking out their website is only the start. Google the organization to get more information. If possible, find out who might be interviewing you and learn more about them.
I landed one of the biggest jobs of my career (before starting BNI and long before Google) because I researched the company and knew so much about the organization and the professional background of the person interviewing me that it blew him away.
2. Offer to do a “working interview.”
This is a great way for any company to take your experience and work ethic for a test drive. It will give you an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. If all goes well, ask them to consider you for the position.
I’ve been recommending this to job-seekers for many years. In fact, one week before I wrote this article, I suggested this idea to my eldest daughter. She tried it out with a company she wanted to work for, and they took her up on a “working interview.” She did such a great job, they hired her the next day!
Your network is the lifeblood of your career. Don’t let it die of professional loneliness. Learn how to network your way into a job.