Executive job seekers often ask me how they can rebuild their job search network, now that they’re back in a job hunt.
We discuss the fact that, by far, networking is the best way to land a job and that job boards yield dismal results.
They’re concerned that they neglected their network once they landed their current or most recent executive job.
Secure in their job, they didn’t feel the need to keep their network alive.
They’ve lost track of people and don’t know how to start to rebuild and maintain a vibrant network that will help them with their current career goals.
This common problem is easily remedied . . . with some work and a plan . . . as outlined below.
4 Steps to Revive and Expand Your Job Search Network
1. Start with targeting, research and defining your personal brand.
Before reaching out to people, you need to build a solid foundation that includes knowing who you’re targeting and researching what makes you a good-fit to help them meet their current pressing needs.
And you need a solid understanding of your personal brand, so you can differentiate the unique value you offer, over your competitors.
You must be prepared to speak intelligently about yourself, your specific goals, who you want to work for, and your value to these companies you’re targeting.
If you don’t communicate these things when you network, people won’t clearly understand how they can help you.
Relying on your targeting, research and personal branding work, you should be able to easily craft a succinct statement (or elevator pitch) that reinforces your expertise, unique value proposition and good-fit qualities for particular employers. Be sure your pitch leans on both your hard skills and your personality, to better generate chemistry.
2. Reconnect with your existing job search network.
Connect more deeply with the people you already know and relied on in the past – friends, colleagues, various associates, current and former customers/clients, vendors, fellow members of professional associations, etc.
Think of all the people you know, across various aspects of your personal and professional lives. Zero in on the ones who will most likely be able to help you.
Circle back to them and briefly apologize for not re-connecting sooner. Find out what they’re up to and update them on what you’ve been doing. But don’t rudely burst into a request for them to help you get a job. Reconnect first and revive the relationship.
Practice “give to get” networking. Don’t expect favors without giving something in return. Do something nice for them first. Networking that works for everyone is all about helping, sharing, finding common ground, and being a good listener.
One suggestion when reconnecting is to send them a link to an article or blog post that is relevant to them.
Once you’ve connected with them a few times, you can ask them if they have any connections at your target companies. And see if they’d be willing to recommend you and/or write you a letter of introduction, which will showcase some of your qualifications. Referrals from someone within a company carry much more weight than an unknown individual (like you) reaching out on your own.
3. Reach out to new people on a regular basis.
Then, cast a far-reaching net to build out your job search network (online and off-line) with fresh faces, including executive recruiters and people working at your target companies.
LinkedIn is tailor made for this. Here’s one tip:
- Look for the LinkedIn Company Pages of each of your target employers,
- Peruse the employees you see on those Pages,
- See if you know any of them and connect with them, if you haven’t already.
- Also, reach out to those you don’t know and invite them to connect.
For tips on making a “cold” connection, see my post How to Connect on LinkedIn with People You Don’t Know . . . and Get Action.
For more about where and how to connect with new people, and keep them happy with you, see my post How to Network Your Way Into a Great-Fit Executive Job.
4. Create a personal brand communications plan to stay top-of-mind with your network.
While you continue to make more of the right connections, gently remind your network of your unique ROI to your target employers, reinforcing your personal brand and good-fit qualities.
Networking and staying top of mind with people will help you penetrate the “hidden” job market, where most people land jobs. These are the executive jobs that are never advertised anywhere. You have to network your way into them.
LinkedIn offers several often overlooked ways to make people aware of you, and the value you offer, without the discomfort of initiating one-on-one conversations with people you may not know very well, if at all.
Here are 4 LinkedIn ways to keep your personal brand top-of-mind:
- Share your own updates, and like and otherwise react to others’ updates
- Publish articles on LinkedIn’s Pulse publishing platform
- Update the content in your LinkedIn profile regularly
- Get active with relevant LinkedIn Groups