Network Like It's Your Job


August 2010 Inview

Network Like It's Your Job: 12 Ways to Create Job Connections in a Virtual World

By Maribeth Kuzmeski

Finding a job in today's job market can be like conquering a new frontier for many job seekers. With the unemployment rate still over nine percent, the job market has been flooded with tons of competition for job seekers, many of whom are experiencing a culture shock when they send out their résumés. After all, the days of mailing in your résumé and receiving a phone call to set up an interview are over. Today, everything is done online, from sending in your résumé to setting up your first interview; and nine times out of 10, you're lucky to receive any kind of response, even if it's an automatic one thanking you for your submission.

It doesn't take long to discover that in a virtual world it can be very difficult to get noticed by the decision makers whom you need to impress in order to land the job. There are three easy steps to getting noticed in today's digitally dominated job market.

Think of yourself as CEO of Me, Myself, and I, Inc. You need to be doing everything you can to get the word out about your brand. That means networking. Great networkers are capable of leaving something behind with everyone they encounter, whether that's a thought, a memory, or a connection. This is exactly what you need to do if you are in the job market. You need to make strong connections, become a relationship builder. You want to be the first person who comes to mind when someone in your network hears about a great job opening.

Rejuvenate your résumé. Résumés rarely showcase how great you are. That's why it's probably time to breathe a little life into yours. Think of it this way: If you are the CEO of Me, Myself, and I, Inc., you will need some marketing materials to promote your brand. Your résumé and cover letter will serve as those marketing materials.

Grab the attention of employers by upping the impact of your résumé. That might mean bucking the traditional résumé format to include eye-catching (but informative) headlines. Also make sure you are emphasizing the tangible benefits you've done for past employers whether it's increasing profits or improving efficiency. Turn your résumé into something an employer would want to read.

Build your online résumé using LinkedIn. According to's 2010 Social Recruiting survey, 83 percent of employers plan to use social networks to recruit this year. If you aren't already on business-focused social media sites like LinkedIn, take the time to set up a profile. LinkedIn is especially important because it is the most commonly viewed source for job seekers and employers. Setting up a profile is simple: Just go to , add your picture and a summary of your past job responsibilities, and state what you're looking for. As a LinkedIn member, you can also join groups, review books, and proactively connect with potential employers.

Get face-to-face with potential employers. Find a way to get in front of your potential employers. These days it is much harder to show potential employers what you are all about and to forge a connection with them because so much of the pre-hiring process is done online and through e-mail. That is why it is essential that you find a way to communicate with them face-to-face. Dropping off a follow-up note or a résumé is a great opportunity for getting some face time with a potential employer. Another great face-to-face opportunity comes after the interview. To show you paid close attention to everything your interviewer said, stop by her office with an article that you think would be of interest to her or a small gift (e.g., a box of candy) based on some key piece of information you found out about the interviewer during the interview.

Once you are face-to-face, in an interview or otherwise, focus on having eye contact throughout. Lean in, show her you are interested in everything she says, and think before you answer any question. Thoughtful deliberation can be difficult if you're nervous, but it is critical in answering your potential employer's questions to the best of your ability. Establishing this face time is sure to set you apart from your job market competition."

Make an impact by using video. If you really want to capture the attention of a potential employer, record a quick video. Use it to get an interview or as a follow-up after an interview. Here's how it works: Instead of just emailing a résumé or a post-interview thank-you note, include a link to a video of you. Carefully script your response and record the quick message using a Flip video camera or even a web cam. Post it on YouTube or some other service and send a link for the video to your potential employer.

Here are some helpful scripting tips for getting the interview:
1. The video should be no longer than one or two minutes.
2. Introduce yourself.
3. Identify the job you would like to be interviewed for.
4. Tell them three things about your background that may make them interested in interviewing you.
5. Thank them for watching the video and ask them for the interview!

The focus of networking should not be on gaining an immediate job offer from the people you network with. In fact, that tactic almost never works. The goal should, instead, be to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who may never even be able to give you a job, but might know someone who can.

Before you go to your next networking opportunity, create a game plan. First, think about which contacts are the most important to you. Remember, these will not necessarily be the people you think might be able to give you a job on the spot. Brainstorm before the event to decide who the best connectors are. Who knows the people you want to know? By connecting with other great connectors, you are able to widen your reach. You expand your opportunities."

Let them do the talking. There's nothing worse than coming away from a great networking opportunity realizing that you didn't capitalize on the situation. Be sure to have more in your arsenal than small talk. Come up with a list of questions to get the conversation going. Once the conversation is flowing freely, then you can move on to more in-depth business questions: What's the best thing that has happened to your business this year? What's one thing you've done that has really changed your career? What will you never do again in business? What's your biggest challenge? What's makes a good client for you? What do you find is the most effective way to keep a client happy?

Be prepared to pitch yourself in fifteen seconds. It's no doubt that you have a lot of qualifications and experience. So much that you could probably go on for hours about yourself. But the hard reality is that no one wants to hear that much about your accomplishments. When you are networking and getting the word out about yourself, you should resist the urge to give a ten-minute introduction about yourself. Instead, prepare a short, fifteen-second elevator pitch that hits on your career high points and top skills. Think about what's unique about what you have done and what will help you stand out from a crowd of other job seekers. The key to an effective pitch is keeping it short while still including your biggest wins. Be creative and think about how you can frame your accomplishments in a way that gets people's attention.

Network to the people you know. Sometimes the most obvious connections are the ones most easily ignored. When you are building your network or considering who might be able to lend you a helping hand during your job search, don't forget about the fruit closest to the ground. The people close to you might have huge networks of their own.

Get involved in organizations that are connected to your profession. Job fairs can be great ways to get in front of potential employers, but you might not want to focus only on companies you know are hiring. In order to meet people within your industry who might have the potential to hire you, attend trade shows and seminars and join organizations or associations connected to your profession.

These events and organizations, like NYSAE, provide great opportunities to help you get your name out in your industry. You might not find someone who is going to hire you on the spot, but you will have the chance to meet people who have the potential to hire you in the future. Take hard copies of your résumé, and, of course, business cards, to any of these events. The more people within your industry or profession who know you the better."

Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give back, but it is also a great way to sneak in some networking. For example, if you are in marketing, volunteer to work with the public relations director at a nonprofit, or if you are an accountant, volunteer your financial expertise. Volunteering provides you the opportunity to meet one of the many hands that go into running a nonprofit.

Be a mover and a shaker. The next time you attend a networking event or even just a party, force yourself to get outside your comfort zone. Don't just hang out with the people you already know. Make it a point to introduce yourself to new people and find out as much as you can about them. The more you move around from group to group the more connections you will be able to make. It's all about expanding your opportunities.

Always be networking. You don't have to be at an event or party or working your social networks to build your connections. We all run into people everywhere in our day-to-day lives, but very few of us capitalize on all those great connections. The next time you're on an airplane, instead of working on your laptop or reading the paper the whole time, get to know the person next to you. Network at your kid's soccer game or the next school PTA meeting. Strike up a conversation with the person behind you in line at the grocery store.

Always be prepared to sell yourself. Provide a simple, repeatable statement of value. That's something you can say to someone that you know will trigger her interest and that will be easy for her to repeat to others.

Trying to find a job in such an overcrowded job market can be a daunting task, but by placing a renewed focus on networking, you open yourself up to many more opportunities than just the ones on the job boards or those being offered at your local job fair. There truly are only six degrees of separation between everyone in the world, or at the very least the U.S. Every time you make a new connection you get that much closer to a great new opportunity."

Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA, is the author of four books, including The Connectors: How the World's Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life (©2009, Wiley), and the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC. She can be reached through her website at .

Additional Articles

Visit Meetings Mean Business