5 Steps to Start Networking for a Job

Men at a networking event

According to HubSpot, 85% of jobs are filled through networking.

CNBC say that 70% of jobs are never published publicly.

The evidence is clear that networking is one of the most effective ways to find a job. As we’re heading into a downturn, it’s even more important that you’re able to leverage professional networking and know how to network for a job. In all likelihood, you’re going to find your next job through networking, and not through a jobs board.

Whether you're a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, building a strong professional network can help you connect with potential employers, uncover hidden job opportunities, and advance your career. In this article, we'll explore what networking is, how to prepare for networking, finding networking opportunities, making meaningful connections, and some etiquette for networking.

What Are Your Networking Goals

Networking is the process of building relationships with people who can help you achieve your professional goals. This includes colleagues, mentors, alumni, industry experts, and even friends and family. The goal of networking is to create a support system that can provide advice, recommendations, and referrals when you need them.

While professional networking typically has many purposes, including finding new clients, learning about an industry, landing a speaking gig or sharing your research, we’ll just be focusing on networking for finding a job today. This will apply to anyone, whether you’re well into your career but are looking for something new, or you’re wanting to learn more about career networking after graduating from college.

How to Prepare for Networking

Before you start networking, it's important to prepare yourself. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Know your goals: Before you attend a networking event, think about what you want to achieve. Are you looking for a job? Do you want to learn more about a specific industry? Knowing your goals will help you focus your efforts and make the most of your time.
  2. Prepare your elevator pitch: An elevator pitch is a brief summary of your skills, experience, and career goals that you can share with potential employers or colleagues. Keep your pitch short and sweet, and practice it until you feel confident delivering it.
  3. Update your online profiles: Your online presence is just as important as your in-person networking efforts. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and consider creating a personal website or portfolio to showcase your work.

Doing this preparation beforehand isn’t easy, so use our Guide to Networking for a Job to help you get started.

Finding Networking Opportunities

There are many ways to find networking opportunities, but first it’s important to understand whether you want to focus on online networking, in-person networking or both.

Online networking is pretty straight forward: jump on LinkedIn, and find the people you want to reach out to. It’s easy to get started, but as with any form of networking, using LinkedIn is an art itself. It’s advised to follow best practices to avoid burning any relationships. Remember: everybody is connected on the internet, and word spreads fast if you do anything unprofessional!

If in-person networking is more your style, be sure to attend networking events. Look for local networking events or industry conferences where you can meet other professionals in your field. Websites such as Meetup.com are a great place to start to find local events that are suited to what you’re interested in.

Making Meaningful Connections

Once you've found networking opportunities, it's important to make meaningful connections with the people you meet. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  1. Be genuine: People can tell when you're not being authentic, so be yourself and let your personality shine through.
  2. Listen more than you talk: Networking is not about selling yourself, it's about building relationships. Listen to what other people have to say and show a genuine interest in their work.
  3. Follow up: After you've met someone at a networking event, be sure to follow up with them via email or LinkedIn. This will help you stay top of mind and continue to build your relationship.

Professional networking is only effective when you’re making a conscious effort to build rapport. Even though you’re in a professional setting, remember that there’s a real human behind the job title of whoever you’re speaking with. They remember what it’s like networking for a job after graduating, or how nervous you’re feeling approaching them for a conversation.

Etiquette for Networking

Networking etiquette is important to ensure that you make a positive impression on the people you meet. The gold rule to remember is that networking is a two-way street. Yes, you’re networking with the goal of getting a job. However, remember that the person on the other side of you also has a reason for wanting to talk to you. They should be able to get something out of it too, whether it be to fill a role (ideally with you!) or simply giving back to others.

The key is to be respectful. Be respectful of someone else’s time, resources, knowledge, experience, and their connections. It’s relationship, and the best relationships are built when there’s mutual benefit to all parties.

Nailing proper etiquette for networking can be tricky. People, at the end of the day, all behave differently and have different incentives. It’s important that you spend some time learning how to best build relationships that last and deliver value to everyone involved.

Land a Job Through Networking with These 5 Steps

Networking is one of the most powerful ways to find a job, but it’s hard to get it right.

We’ve covered how you can get started with networking to find a job. Here’s a recap of our 5 steps:

  1. Understand your goals for networking - is it to explicitly ask for jobs, or to build relationships which can lead to jobs further down the line
  2. Prepare for networking - make sure you’re clear on your goals, your online profile is set up and you’ve nailed your elevator pitch
  3. Find networking opportunities - is it online networking opportunities, or in-person networking, what you’d prefer?
  4. Making meaningful connections - be a good listener and make sure to follow up. These go a long way when it comes to building rapport
  5. Remember the right etiquette - often, this step is the most overlooked, but arguably the most important and hardest to get right

There’s only so much we can cover in a single article, which is why we put together a free 23-page Beginner’s Guide to Networking for a Job.

Networking is a powerful tool for finding a job and advancing your career. By preparing yourself, finding networking opportunities, making meaningful connections, and following proper etiquette, you can build a strong professional network that will support you throughout your career journey.