Originally published to LinkedIn on February 2, 2016
How to Network Your Way Into Your Dream Job
Start with your dream job offer, and develop a strategy going backwards from there.
To get to the offer stage, and to get a job that you really want to be in, let's reverse engineer it. Basically, start with you getting an offer that you really want. Well, going backwards, that probably came from going through a set of interviews, which probably started from some informal meetings, which were a result of interacting with people on a more casual basis, which ideally came from targeted LinkedIn invitations, or other ways where you created a professional network.
Starting from that angle, when you're sending invitations on LinkedIn, what you're doing is you're starting a professional relationship, which in turn leads to these informal meetings. How do you do that? Once you've connected to somebody on LinkedIn, you push forward and say, "I'd love to set up a call with you to get your advice on what it's like to be over at so and so bank, so and so law firm." Once you start the conversation with them, you say, "I really appreciate your time. I plan on being in your neck of the woods a couple days next week. Would love to swing by, bring you a cup of coffee, and to continue our conversation." Make sure that you offer some value in return. Perhaps you say, "I've got a pretty extensive network. Maybe some of the people within that network can help you in your business."
Schedule that meeting under the auspices that it's going to be just you two sharing advice, your contacts and your network, because once you're getting together that way, you're just discussing things, and it’s not too formal. You then take that opportunity to discuss what you bring to the table, "I've got twenty years’ experience increasing the bottom line of companies. I've been able to expand their visibility in the marketplace, and my advertising and marketing expertise can do the same thing for smaller companies, startup companies. What advice do you have for me, and who do you think I should speak to?" Always end your value statement with a request / call to action (more on that in a future post).
What you'll find is that that person will often say, "Would you ever consider working for us," and it will almost seem like it's their idea and not yours. It's not you saying, "Here's my resume. Please help me out," which is likely the worst thing you can do, but instead you'll say, "I hadn't even considered that too much. Tell me more about your firm," and this person will tell you about the firm to the point where then he or she is thinking, "This person is pretty impressive. We may need to bring her in for a set of interviews. I really like her." They'll go to Human Resources, or the decision makers, the key influencers, and they'll say, "You should bring her in. I met her already. I really like her," and then you're off and running!
Instead of the first line of attack being your resume, which is really just a two dimensional version of yourself, and, quite frankly, it's not a good sales pitch at all, you should focus on setting up a casual meeting that leads to those interviews. In addition, if that person is promoting your candidacy, suddenly you're at the top of the resume pile, because it's an internal referral, which we all know gets much more a look than outside resumes coming in.
You can leverage those initial connections on LinkedIn into casual meetings that will lead you to the interviews, and then the offers. It really does work. Now let’s get started!
But...regarding that whole networking thing...reach out to me directly for my Networking Tips Checklist, chock full of tips and strategies you can use right away!
- Are you completely uncomfortable approaching strangers about your job search?
- Have you been unable to pick up the phone, send that LinkedIn invite, or make the rounds at events?
- Do you wish YOU were a Type-A Networker even though you don't have a Type A personality?
Networking can be challenging, and even I don't really like doing it. I'm like almost everyone out there...I'm not comfortable walking into a room, shaking hands, and doing the schmoozing thing. But networking your way into your dream job can be much easier than the networking event grind. You can easily get connected with those professionals that will be directly involved in the decision to hire you. And best of all? Much of it can be done by starting in a seated position!
If you find that this post was helpful to you in any way, please share it with at least 3 people in your network. This is exactly how I pick up great tips and ideas from some of the other thought leaders, and I'd greatly appreciate any efforts you make to do the same.