If you’ve visited a no-cost Goodwill Career Center, you’ve most likely seen advertisements for Recruiting Thursdays and other hiring eventse. Attending these events will boost your job search efforts, partly due to networking.
Networking is more than just exchanging contact information with recruiters and other job seekers. One of the key aspects is building professional relationships. You want people to think of you when they hear about a new opportunity.
Developing the confidence to network takes time and practice, but fortunately many networking techniques overlap with interviewing skills. A lot of it is about branding yourself as someone who is hirable, amiable, and excited for career growth.
Here are some things to consider as you begin cultivating professional relationships.
Strategize for the big picture
What goals do you hope to achieve by networking? Creating a plan and identifying objectives will make the process more efficient and successful. Consider how many events you want to attend per week, how many contacts you hope to make per event, and if you’re looking more for job leads or people you can list as references.
Conduct light research on companies that interest you. This will help you put together focused talking points related to company culture, projects, and how their vision fits with your experience. You might even find specific events companies of interest are attending.
Prepare a short speech
Introductions set the first impression. What do people need to know about you in a 30-second pitch? Think of it like bullet-pointing your resume, but in a quick speech. Memorize and practice so it flows naturally.
Ask insightful questions
You don’t want to lead a conversation with, “Are you hiring?” It’s too aggressive. A better strategy is to form questions based on your research. You can then guide the conversation toward available opportunities and demonstrate how your experience relates and would benefit the company.
Networking events sometimes take place in casual spots, like a bar or restaurant, but it’s important to always remain professional. You want to show your personality while erring on the side of caution—don’t tell a questionable joke or overly personal story. In general, think of networking like an interview. It’s important how you present yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not following up with people. Send a short email—no text messages—thanking someone for their time. You can loop in something you talked about, expressing gratitude and excitement for any future opportunities. Keep it short and simple.
Job searching is competitive. Networking can help make jobs more accessible, but it takes time. Going to an event or meeting thinking you’ll find someone who can hire you on the spot is unrealistic. Be patience and professional—it will pay off.
Do you need help building a strategy for networking? You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for help. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page. Good luck with your job search!