3 Easy Ways to Start Networking

Despite the inter-connected nature of the world and the ability to reach out to anyone, anywhere, with the click of a button, relationships remain the most valuable thing in business. Any business.

We are more likely to buy from, recommend and hire people we that we trust.

Whether you are looking for a job or new client, your network is critical to your future success. Especially as approximately 60 – 80 percent of jobs are filled through non-traditional channels before they are even listed (like recommendations and word of mouth).

And if that hasn’t convinced you to start connecting, the job market just got very noisy and very crowded. Networking will get you into a much smaller pool of applicants and can help you “jump the line” with applicant tracking systems to get directly in front of a hiring manager.  

Let’s get digital, digital!

The pandemic has meant we can’t get out to in-person events and shake hands but there are still plenty of opportunities to meet new people and build relationships.

First thing is first, if you haven’t seen the sessions on personal branding and the art of self-promotion, I would highly recommend you start there. The full recordings are available with your talent ecosystem membership.

Your digital footprint and personal brand should be prioritized alongside networking in the current economic climate.  It was always important but now even more so, as you no longer have the opportunity for face to face first impressions.

The first thing people will do, before they respond to a meeting request, will be to look you up. Make sure that you control what their first impression will be across all your digital channels.

Also, if you’re asking people to recommend you, they want to make sure you look credible too, as they are putting their name behind yours.

Secondly, to network effectively, you must have a goal. What do you want to get out of these connections and relationships? Is it more information? Is it a job? Is it inspiration or a like-minded community? The clearer you are, the stronger your ask will be and the easier it will be for people to help you… And you want to make it really easy for people to help you!

Now that you’ve got your branding and networking goal set – let’s network! Here are three easy ways to get started.

1. Go after your low-hanging fruit, look to the network you already have.

We often overlook our immediate friends, family and networks. Chances are, these guys already like you if they’re hanging out with you! They don’t even need to know the quality of your work before they’ll recommend you.

The same goes for your past colleagues and clients. If you’ve worked with them in the past, chances are they will have a good idea about your capabilities, drive and nature.

Here is the thing though… they probably have no idea what you do now or what you’re looking for. Even if the perfect opportunity came to them, they probably wouldn’t think to put your name forward. It’s not personal, they just have no idea and / or you’re not top of mind as you haven’t been in touch for a while.  

A good example of this is Crystal from our talent ecosystem – she was encouraged to reconnect with her old boss just to say hello and he had an opportunity exactly in line with what she was looking for. He never would have thought about her had she not reached out and told him she was pivoting.

Remember

  • You already belong to many networks (family, friends, colleagues, PTA etc.)
  • Each network connects you to another network (e.g., your child’s teacher can connect you with other parents, schools, and school suppliers).
  • Each member of a network may know of an available job or a connection to someone who will know of one.
  • Remember that when you are asking someone for a recommendation, you are asking them for their time and to use their social capital. Treat each member in your network with consideration of that.

2. Identify your online networks and communities.

Where is everyone hanging out these days?

  • LinkedIn is up to 690 million members and reports 26% growth in user sessions.
  • Facebook (Instagram) added 105 million users in Q1, taking it to 2.60 billion monthly active users, a 10% increase YoY.
  • Twitter is now up to 166 million daily active users, adding 14 million on the previous quarter, which also represents a 24% increase year-over-year.

We have turned to social networking as we shelter from home! It has become a very busy and, quite frankly, overwhelming place to be.

Don’t try to network across them all, you will drown in COVID-19 rants and cat videos. Be specific and choose the most relevant social networks to focus your precious energy on.

Go back to your networking goal and do your research. If you’re looking for clients, think about where they are hanging out. If you’re looking for employers, what channels are they actively recruiting from. If you want to grow your business with a community and network of like-minded individuals, where are their Mastermind groups?

You get what you put into these channels, so be of service. People do business with people they know and like. No one wants to do business with someone who just pushes sales or doesn’t engage. Do your research and build relationships.

A great example of this is Rachel offering her expertise on a question in our talent community. By contributing and adding value she was top of mind when one of our tellent coaches needed social media and website support.

3. Attend Virtual Events.

Most events and networking associations have gone digital. Women of Influence, The Atelier Collective and RevolutionHER. Some virtual gatherings will offer more networking opportunities than others. Tech TO have a great networking platform and Collison moved their entire conference to an “at home” event.

If you’re following people who inspire you, you can check out what they are attending or where they are watching.

Depending on sophistication of the digital event, there are some great opportunities to network here. Especially if the topic is around a specific niche your target client or employer will be at.

For example, there was a diversity and inclusion leadership event last month. It was held on zoom so I could see all the other names of the attendees. While they were talking, I was doing my research on who would be great to connect with after the event.

This then becomes an opportunity to reach out and start building that relationship e.g. I saw we were on the same call, I liked what you said about … Go back to your networking goal.  Who do you want to connect to, where are you going to find those people?

Networking can push you out of your comfort zone but it does represent a key component of finding your next job or building your client base. That is why we founded the talent ecosystem. To increase access to the opportunities on the “hidden” job market and network in a safe and supportive environment. Sign up here to get started!

What do you think? Leave your comment below...