4 Quick Steps to Jumpstart and Expand Your Network
- Start with targeting, research and defining your personal brand.
Before reaching out to people, you need to build a solid foundation that includes knowing who you are targeting and researching what makes you a good-fit to help them meet their current pressing needs. Develop a solid understanding of your personal brand, so you can differentiate the unique value you offer, over your competitors.
You must be prepared to speak intelligently about yourself, your specific goals, who you want to work for, and your value to these companies you are targeting.
If you do not communicate these things when you network, people will not clearly understand how they can help you.
Relying on your targeting, research and personal branding work, you should be able to easily craft a succinct statement (or elevator pitch) that reinforces your expertise, unique value proposition and good-fit qualities for particular employers.
- Reconnect with your existing network.
Connect more deeply with the people you already know – friends, colleagues, various associates, current and former customers/clients, vendors, fellow members of professional associations, etc.
Think of all the people you know, across various aspects of your personal and professional lives.
Circle back to them and briefly apologize for not re-connecting sooner. Find out what they are up to and update them on what you’ve been doing. But don’t rudely burst into a request for them to help you get a job. Reconnect first and revive the relationship.
Practice “give to get” networking. Do not expect favors without giving something in return. Do something nice for them first. Networking that works for everyone is all about helping, sharing, finding common ground, and being a good listener.
One suggestion when reconnecting is to send them a link to an article or blog post that is relevant to them.
Once you have connected with them a few times, you can ask them if they have any connections at your target companies. Then see if they’d be willing to recommend you and/or write you a letter of introduction, which will showcase some of your qualifications.
- Reach out to new people on a regular basis.
Then, cast a far-reaching net to build out your network (online and off-line) with fresh faces, including executive recruiters and people working at your target companies. Start by making four critical lists and keep these lists current and active:
- People (your key career contacts)
- Target Companies (in your top 3 industries)
- Executive Recruiters (focused in your select industries and management level)
- Networking Events (all industry specific and local associations with local leaders in attendance)
- Create a personal brand communications plan to stay top-of-mind with your network.
While you continue to make more of the right connections, gently remind your network of your unique ROI to your target employers, reinforcing your personal brand and good-fit qualities.
Networking and staying top of mind with people will help you penetrate the “hidden” job market, where most people land jobs. These are the executive jobs that are never advertised anywhere. You have to network you way into them.
LinkedIn offers several often overlooked ways to make people aware of you, and the value you offer, without the discomfort of initiating one-on-one conversations with people you may not know very well, if at all.
Here are 4 LinkedIn ways to keep your personal brand top-of-mind:
- Share your own updates, and like and comment on others updates
- Publish articles on LinkedIn’s Pulse publishing platform
- Update the content in your LinkedIn profile regularly
- Get active with LinkedIn Groups
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