Landing an interview can be difficult, especially with a limited network. If you are struggling to make industry connections or find a job, learning the ‘how’ of networking can help you get your foot in the door. Let’s look at some expert advice on how to expand your network.
Hallice, Hiring Expert at Avery Dennison Corporation, briefly explains the beginning steps of networking, “Start connecting with your contacts, then begin connecting with your contact's connections.” Ref Link
Jump Right In
Lina, Hiring Expert at ADP, understands the intimidation factor of first time networking. “It gets easier the more you do it, so my recommendation would be to attend events and put yourself in situations where you can network, such as career fairs.”
You can also network right from home. As Lina mentions, “Another way for you to build your network is through LinkedIn. With the Alumni Feature, you can search your school’s alumni by company, role, location, etc. This way, you can connect with professionals in industries you’re interested in who you already have a connection with.” Ref Link
Hallice, Hiring Expert at Avery Dennison Corporation, continues, “If you meet someone at a job fair or industry event, find them on LinkedIn and send them a message. It doesn't have to be long, just something that shows you enjoyed meeting them and remembered what they had to say. This is the best way to start networking at school.” She adds, “I would also recommend joining groups that pertain to your desired work interests during school and after graduation.” Ref Link
Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, suggests, “Use your time networking to demonstrate what you can bring to the company and ask thoughtful questions to understand more about the company culture, career progression, or to learn more about the individual you are speaking with. If possible, a follow-up, thank you note, or email after your conversation is always appreciated.” Ref Link
Preparation is Key
Ashley continues by sharing the importance of how to go about preparing for these networking events. “It’s important to be confident when networking with potential employers. This can help demonstrate your leadership qualities. You should also demonstrate your passion for the industry or company by approaching each networking event with research done beforehand.” Ref Link
Lina, Hiring Expert at ADP, mentions, “Prepare and practice your elevator pitch so you know how to start out a conversation with key and relevant information. Make sure you know about the company you are speaking to. Career fairs always share the list of companies attending, so do your research prior to attending the event. Know which companies you want to talk to, and go to their company website to learn more about them. Go a step further and look at their career site for the roles you may be interested in. Nothing impresses me more at a career fair than when a student has done all of these steps. This is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.” Ref Link
Ashlyn, Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries, says, “Check out what cool things are happening either with their company or in their market. Bring these things up in your conversation, ask questions around them; this shows that you've gone the extra mile and that you are someone who is interested in their line of work. Ask them if it's OK for you to connect with them via LinkedIn, and when you do, be sure to send them a quick note. Feel free to follow up with them and see if there are any career opportunities that you'd be a good fit for.” Ref Link
Networking can seem daunting when you start with limited connections, but your investment in expanding those connections will pay off in the long run. Be prepared, follow up, and grow your network!