Networking is not an easy endeavour. It entails awkward moments wandering around at events you don’t want to be at, even for the savviest job seeker. It doesn’t have to be that way. Network with intent, and you can get what you want: your dream job.
Finding that dream job is not just about selling yourself to potential employers. It’s about finding the right fit for you by targeting organizations with cultures and values you find relatable. It’s finding out the employer’s value proposition and deciding if it is a match with your values. This is the foundation of networking with intent.
Whereas conventional networking involves connections happening passively, networking with intent involves a focused strategy.
Network with intent by concentrating on:
What you want
Figure out your work values and then create a potential employer criteria list that matches it. You can create this list by asking questions:
• What stage of your career are you in?
• What workplace environment works best for you?
• What leadership styles do you work best with?
• Does the public perception of the company matter to you?
Now that you have your criteria list, your next step is to figure out which organizations offer what you are looking for.
Visit websites and social media profiles of different organizations. Most companies have their values, mission and vision outlined on their website or careers page. Do they resonate with you? Do they align with the criteria you created? If so, it’s people from this organization that you want to network with.
Finding the people
Don’t just focus on the recruiter or the people department. Visit the LinkedIn accounts of the hiring manager and team members. This will give you a snapshot of the people the organization employs and what their skills, interests and even personalities are like. Be bold and reach out to team members and set up a time to meet.
Let’s face it: if recruiters hear of a candidate that knows an employee internally, their curiosity will be piqued. Millions of openings are not formally posted, and most hires are sourced from the hidden job market, thanks to the influence of a referral. The people are your best source of the “in.”
Thinking about demographics
Refer back to your LinkedIn search and find someone in the same demographic as you who is employed by the potential employer. Meet with the person.
In different stages of our lives, we want different things from work. Will the company provide a working life that fits with what you are looking for at this point in your career? If you have kids, does the company have maternity/parental leave top-up? More importantly, does the company actually espouse the values it claims to have? Ask a current employee in your demographic, and you will receive the information that matters to you.
Bringing your creative pitch and your questions
Give the recruiter a reason to meet with you. Your pitch should answer what makes you unique, what behaviours and skills you will bring to the workplace that will add to the culture of the organization and, even better, how you will drive business results.
Don’t expect others to ask the right questions to find out who you are. Whether meeting a recruiter for coffee or attending an event, come with your own set of questions. Interest in and knowledge of the industry the organization operates in go a long way. Show that you have done your research because you have a genuine interest in becoming a member of the organization.
Having a proactive mindset
Don’t leave it to crunch time. Always be networking, and keep in touch with your connections. You might have a great job, but you never know what will happen tomorrow. Savvy job seekers understand that connecting with people before a position is posted is a useful strategy to be top of mind when an opening does come up.
Networking with intent involves finding those organizations that will help you have a satisfying and engaging work life where you can grow and be yourself.
So, make that list, do some targeted research, be bold and put yourself out there. Intentionally land your dream job.
Lauren Welgush is people and performance manager at the online payment solutions company Bambora North America.