A referral through someone in your network is a highly effective way to land a job. Sometimes it’s not just what you know, but who you know. An endorsement from someone the hiring manager trusts is a powerful means of influence. People in your network are also a great source of information about relevant job openings and may be able to provide advice about how best to position yourself to the company.
Here are six ways to get more referrals and value from your professional network.
1. Display value
Introductions should be valuable to all three parties. In the case of a job search, the job seeker gets a new opportunity, the hirer gets a great candidate and the introducer gets to be helpful to both of his contacts. To obtain high quantity and quality of introductions, make people feel confident about introducing you. Without sounding too arrogant or overbearing, let people know about your skills and past accomplishments. If people believe that you will make a great hire for one of their contacts, they will be eager to introduce you.
2. Be helpful
Find ways to add value to others without expecting anything in return. When you do something for others that helps in some way, people naturally want to reciprocate. In addition, by helping people in your network, your network gets stronger, which can make those in your network more capable of helping you in the future. Make relevant and mutually beneficial introductions. Offer your advice, expertise or feedback. Share information such as events, articles or research that they would find helpful. Promote your contacts’ work by sharing it with people you know.
3. Ask for introductions
Looking within your network for introductions is the most effective way to generate new professional contacts. Ask people you know for contacts in the industry, at specific companies you’d like to work for or even specific people within a department. Use LinkedIn to identify individuals you would like to meet. See if you have any shared connections and ask that person to introduce you. When asking for the introduction, send an email with a short bio included, explaining why the introduction would be mutually beneficial. Also, be conscious of how strong the relationship is between both parties because, like your personal relationships, your business relationships are also a reflection of you.
4. Grow your network
Cast a wide net so that you’re never more than a connection or two away from your dream job. Continually put in time and effort to building a strong professional network by attending conferences and events, asking for introductions, reaching out directly when appropriate and getting involved with groups and organizations around your interests. Dig your well before you’re thirsty, because it takes a long time to build a great network.
5. Keep in touch
You never know when someone will come across an opportunity that would be great for you. Keep on your contacts’ radars. Continue being helpful by sending relevant information, advice or introductions. Continue to display value by letting people know what you’re learning and accomplishing at work and/or independently. Interact with your contacts on social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Aim to communicate with important contacts at least once per month. Make an effort to keep in touch before you start the job search, so people don’t think you’re only reaching out when you need something.
6. Get advice
Your network can also be a great source of information and advice. Your contacts may alert you to job openings that you hadn’t heard about or provide advice on positioning yourself to a given company.
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