Networking is a buzz word in career circles, yet few people truly know how to effectively build a strong network of professional connections. Utilizing a few simple strategies can help you identify and secure a dream job beyond the exhausting search of job search boards and career sites. These networking techniques also work well with identifying new business prospects, employees and professional associates.
1. Ask yourself where you really want to work and identify the person you’d love to work for. Check out their blog, read their client releases, follow them on Twitter, Google them, research them on Linked-In. I’m not telling you to be a stalker, just do your research. Armed with this information you can then write a short cover email (or Twitter comment) about something they’ve said, written or done. Indicate you would love to learn more about their work. Once you have started a dialogue, write a note about an idea you have for one of their clients. Down the road, email your resume and a well-written cover note explaining how you would be an asset to the organization.
2. Subscribe to the free email newsletters in your business industry and related areas. For PR the advertising, social media, PR and marketing trades are a great resources. When you see a new client win or initiative announcement at an agency or corporation…write a note of congratulations. The company or PR firm will probably staff up to service this new business. As a follow up, send your compelling cover note and resume showcasing how you will be the perfect team member to help deliver results for this client.
3. Read the business pages of your local newspaper. Every week newspapers include executive appointment announcements (as do industry trades). I’m not looking for a job, yet I frequently drop a note of congratulations to new corporate communication and public relations executives I read about in the paper. Many have become guest speakers in my classes and several have hired my students for internships and jobs. Identify quotes from a company spokesperson and get to know them on Linked-In or Twitter.
4. To connect with someone via Linked-In, always include a personal message. I.e. “I read about your new client”…or “I loved your quote in The New York Times“…and include a short sentence about who you are…”I’m a PR student with my own travel public relations blog.” Or “I’m a junior-level marketing professional interested in crisis communication.”
5. Be patient. Take the time to develop a rapport with them. Don’t just ask for a job, ask them for their insights, tips and advice. Help them learn who you are…show you are insightful, smart, good at tracking and spotting trends, etc. Consider all contacts as long-term possible mentors or business partners.
With some creativity and initiative, you can make valuable connections. And don’t forget to reciprocate…always be willing to help when someone reaches out to you.