Many of my executive job seeking clients ask me that question when we first connect.
We discuss the fact that, by far, networking is the best way to land a job and that job boards yield dismal results.
They’re concerned, and rightly so, that they neglected their network once they landed their current or most recent job.
They had been, or are currently, securely employed, so they didn’t feel the need to keep their network alive. They’ve lost track of people and don’t know how to start to rebuild and maintain a vibrant network that will help them with their current career goals.
This common problem is easily remedied . . . with some work and a plan . . . as outlined below.
4 Steps to Revive and Expand Your Network
1. 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’re targeting, research on what makes you a good-fit to help them meet their current pressing needs, and an 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’re targeting.
If you don’t communicate these things when you network, people won’t 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.
2. 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’re 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. Don’t 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.
Then you can ask them if they have any connections at your target companies. And see if they’d be willing to recommend you and/or write you a letter of introduction, which will showcase some of your qualifications.
3. 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.
LinkedIn is tailor made for this. Here’s one tip:
- Look for the LinkedIn Company Profiles of each of your target employers,
- Peruse the employees you see on the Company Profile pages,
- See if you know any of them and connect with them, if you haven’t already.
- Also, reach out to those you don’t know and invite them to connect.
For tips on making a “cold” connection, see my post How to Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action.
For more about where and how to connect with new people, and keep them happy with you, see my post How to Network Your Way Into a Great-Fit Executive Job.
4. 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.
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.