3 ways to make network connections


If you’re job hunting and want to meet more people who can hire you, here are three ways to do it …

1) Follow growth

If you’re looking for a job, go where the action is — growing companies are more likely to hire than failing ones.

And a great tool for finding signs of growth is LinkedIn, according to personal branding coach Otis Collier.

“I research companies on LinkedIn to find out who has been recently promoted, which shows which departments may be hiring and what jobs they may need to fill.”

This can help you find places within a company to make connections that lead to interviews.

Example: Choose the Search Companies option on LinkedIn, type in Apple, and you’ll find two lists of interest: New Hires, and Recent Promotions and Changes. Both of these show departments at Apple that may be growing.

You’ll also see which names, if any, are in your 1st level and extended networks, so you know whom to contact for information about the hiring climate.

2) Make new connections at old employers

Write down the name of every employer you’ve ever had. Now, ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Could you work there again?

Don’t snicker — we all know someone who’s been re-hired by a former employer. It happens every day. Why not for you?

2. Could you work for past clients?

Think of every company your employers have ever sold products or services to. Could you work for any of them? Of course. Why not make a list of 5-10 to contact?

Example: Years ago, I was recruited by my employer’s biggest client, but didn’t want to relocate. It would take some doing, but I know I could reconnect with my old client using LinkedIn or Google, and ask about his company’s current needs.

3. Could you work for past competitors?

Think of every company your past employers competed against. Could you work for any of them? Again, make a list of at least 5-10 names, then find a contact person at a former competitor you could work for.

Tip: Don’t call to offer trade secrets on your old employer – nobody wants to hire a Benedict Arnold. But do call and ask to meet for coffee, to share your insights in the industry. This should interest them, given that you used to compete against them.

4. Could you work for past vendors?

Like questions 3 and 4 above, make a list of companies your past employers purchased products and services from, such as IT consulting, office supplies, furniture, advertising, etc. Could you work for any of them? It may take some imagination, but the answer is surely yes.

3) Network at conferences

Here’s another tip from Otis Collier: Make connections at conferences put on by organizations and groups you belong to.

“Networking is still the #1 way people find jobs, and attending a conference is a prime chance to network,” says Collier.

Problem: It’s impossible to meet the hundreds of attendees at a typical conference.

Solution: Do your homework and create a targeted list of people to make connections with.

Collier suggests the following method:

Before attending a conference, search LinkedIn for the organization’s name. You will find all the people who listed membership in their profile. Then, do an advanced search to cull the list down by job titles or areas of expertise. Print the best names and bring them to the conference.

You now have a “shopping list” of people to meet. When you register, ask for a printout of all attendees. Use this to determine which people on your list you can connect with.

What if you or the people on your list don’t attend the conference? Contact them anyway, by email or phone. Mention your membership in the same organization and you’ll have an instant affinity, which makes them more likely to speak with you.

No matter how you meet people, remember this: When having a networking conversation, be coy.

Don’t ask, “I’m looking for a job – do you know anyone who’s hiring?” You may look desperate and put people off.

Instead, say, “Hi, I was hoping you could help me. I’m looking for information about XYZ company. Because you work(ed) there, would you have 3 minutes for a brief conversation?”

There are three key principles in those sentences, so pay attention:

  1. Most people will help, if you ask politely.
  2. Saying one word – because – when asking a favor, often gets compliance, as detailed in the book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” by Robert Cialdini. Try it.
  3. Always give a time limit. At the end, say, “Well, it’s been 3 minutes. I’ll let you go, unless you have a couple more minutes.” Respect others’ time and they will respect you.

Now, go out and make your own luck!

Kevin Donlin is co-author of Guerrilla Resumes. Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CBS Radio and others.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for [American] college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.