Placement

Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Elise GelwicksUpdated Oct 4, 202231 min

Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Updated Oct 4, 202231 min
Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Elise GelwicksUpdated Oct 4, 202231 min

Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Updated Oct 4, 202231 min
Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job

Introduction

 🏆 Goal

Build long-term professional relationships and activate those professional relationships to land a new job!

📗 When to Read

You’re gearing up for a job search or actively looking for a job and want to level up your networking game.

🔑 #1 Tip

Start every networking conversation with the mindset of “how can I add value to this person?” Focus first on what you can give rather than what you can get.

⌚ Time Required

While you’re just exploring, aim to make or rekindle one relationship per week. That might sound like a lot, but it can be as simple as a couple of messages. Consistency is key.

When you’re actively job searching, plan to spend 5 hours a week on networking. It will be more fun than applying online - we promise!

✅ Done When

Networking and professional relationship building are never done. Continue building connections like this after you land a job. The adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” really does hold true.

Understand

Networking creates a group of professionally relevant relationships, growing the number and depth of them over time through regular communication for mutual benefit. When done well, it begins from the mindset “How can I help?” rather than “What can I get?” 

The two key components of networking are:

  • Maintaining active communication to foster warm relationships

  • Focusing on how you can add value and help solve top-of-mind problems for your network 

Let’s get a couple of misconceptions about networking out of the way:

❌ I don’t have a network: It’s completely normal to feel something like this, especially if you’ve been at the same company for a while. Let us assure you that you do indeed have one. You might consider shifting your thinking about what it means to have a network. Most everyone’s network is comprised of: 

  • Colleagues, both current and former

  • Friends, family, and friends-of-friends

  • People you went to school with

  • People you grew up with 

  • Professional acquaintances

  • People you know from sports, church, clubs, etc

When you add it up, that starts to be a lot of people!

❌ Networking is passing out business cards: The word networking brings up images of big, stuffy rooms of people awkwardly exchanging business cards and making small talk. That indeed is a way you can network with mild effectiveness. However, it misses the essence of what networking is about: relationships.

❌ Networking asks people to refer you to jobs: You may well ask someone to refer you to a job, but that’s a tiny piece of the networking landscape. Networking is primarily about building trust with people over time and avoiding making anyone feel taken advantage of or “used.” 

❌ Meet as many people as possible: Even better than an extensive network is a set of what we call “yo” relationships - where you’re both comfortable talking out of the blue. “Yo” relationships might be for an intro, quick advice on a sticky situation, or to get in touch. These quality relationships are more important than a lot of acquaintances.

 You have to know someone to get hired: Networking does lead to about 70% of hires, yes. That said, millions of jobs are found every year by directly applying. That’s still millions of jobs! Even highly networked people only apply for jobs when there’s a strong fit. The optimal approach is to combine networking + direct applying in your job search strategy. You can read more about this in our Job Search Guide

❌ Networking starts when you need a new job: ABN. Always. Be. Networking. Building trust takes time, and there are very few shortcuts. Building and deepening strong professional relationships allows you to:

  • Build up plenty of goodwill so that it’s natural to ask a favor later

  • Glean valuable advice from people who are further along in their career

  • Learn about new career opportunities while you aren’t actively searching, which can sometimes be the best ones

  • Opportunistically learn about companies you might want to join in the future

  • Add more value to your employer through deeper industry understanding

Networking is a continuous process of mutual favor-doing. It’s like building an army of joint advocates that grows and deepens over time. 

Networking

Goal-oriented networking 🧐

How to network can feel like a fuzzy thing, so having clear goals helps quite a bit. It provides confidence that networking is a worthwhile investment of your valuable time, leads to more relevant and helpful conversations, and makes the process much more enjoyable.

What should your networking goal be? Well, it depends. 

If you’re not sure you want to change jobs, your networking goal could be exploring different career paths. As in, what it means to grow in your current role, change roles, change industries, or move to a new city. 

If you’re actively job-seeking, your networking goal could be learning about opportunities at a specific company, what your role means at those companies, what their culture is like, and how people get hired at them. 

If you’re not sure, hop over to our Job Search Guide and work through that. It will help you get clarity on where you’re heading. 🎯

To figure out your networking goal, start by jotting down your responses to the following questions (really, grab a note and start writing):

  • What do I like about my job? 

  • What do I not love about my job?

  • How do I envision my career from here?

  • What is the job I saw recently that I got excited about?

  • What companies do I find intriguing?

  • What industries seem like a potential fit for me?

  • Who in my network has a job I’d like to have?

  • How do I accomplish my career goal?

As you reflect on these questions, you’ll quickly uncover your networking priorities. Most people discover more questions than you initially thought you had! That’s an excellent sign. It means you’re thinking critically and acting with strongly positive intent.

💪🏽 Get to work:

Pick just one networking goal to focus on in the time being.

  • Write it down on a post-it note.

  • Hang it up on your desk.

These small tasks will nudge you to take small steps forward! Remember: we as humans always overestimate what is possible in a week and underestimate what we can do in a year. 🙌🏽

Networking Environments 🔗

networking environment is a professional, social context that’s conducive to building your network. These can be events, meetings, and forums. Typically, people are most successful in networking environments that fit their personality and strengths. Most notably, the extent to which they are introverted or extroverted. You don’t need to leverage all networking environments, and you need to find the ones that work for ✨ you ✨. 

Let’s break down a bunch of examples. We’ll go from most extrovert-friendly to most introvert-friendly:

Live Networking Events

When lots of people come together in the same place simultaneously, there are likely a couple of people who are a perfect fit for your network. These might be:

Large Networking Events

Example: presentations, panel discussions, conference talks, meetups, etc. 

You’re in a large group where you have to take the initiative to walk up to someone and introduce yourself. It takes practice to get good at finding relevant people to you at large events.

The best way to take advantage is to meet many people, have memorable conversations, and establish a solid follow-up with them in the meeting. It’s helpful to exchange business cards; that way, you have each other’s information or email them “hello” on the spot on your phone!

When you have a break at a large event, make a note on your phone about who you met, why they seemed worth talking to further, and how you might help them as a next step. Otherwise, you’ll surely miss out on the opportunities you worked hard to create.

Think of significant events as a way to spark relationships. From there, you’ll need to build them over time.

Small Networking Events

Dinners with professional friends, happy hours, book discussions, and breakout sessions are places where you can meet new people in a more intimate setting. Small networking events typically allow for more in-depth conversations with a straightforward conversation starter. 

Networking pros lookout for a way to get the names of the people at small events in advance. You can take a peek at people’s LinkedIn profiles and target who you spend your time talking with. You can jot down the names and a couple of notes on your top targets for a conversation on your phone, so you increase the chances of sparking a relationship that sticks. 

Classes

Continuing education classes, boot camps, and accelerator programs are great ways to meet peers. This is rarely an intimidating environment, even for introverts, because you’re with people who are in similar stages of their career. Here, you can look to genuinely connect with people who have similar professional interests.

When you take a class, it can be tempting to show up, learn the material, and call it a day. Instead, make a conscious effort to get to know others. Show up early or stay late to find time to mingle. If you meet someone you connect with and think there’s an opportunity to be a mutually beneficial relationship, ask them out for coffee to learn more about them. 

Speaking of coffee...

Networking Chat

This networking environment goes by many names, including “informational chat,” “coffee chat,” “informational interview,” “networking conversation,” even “lunch.” It’s all the same thing at the end of the day: a one-on-one conversation, usually 20 minutes to 1 hour in length, that’s partly about work and partly about being a human being. We’re going to call it a “networking chat” here. (Don’t call it that to anyone else. Call it “coffee” 😉).

Having a coffee or lunch chat, whether in person or virtual, encourages meaningful conversation where you can start or deepen a relationship. These meetings lead to precious advice or introductions about ⅓ of the time, something sort of valuable ⅓ of the time, and honestly, nowhere, about ⅓ of the time. Regardless, this is a pivotal way to build your network (which is why we’ll cover it in depth below!).

In this environment, extroverts can impress their ability to think on their feet, while introverts can impress by being highly prepared by doing their research.

Online Networking 🖧

The easiest way to maintain a network, and passively invest in building one, is through online networking. That’s finding active groups of people talking about their industry daily and actively participating in those groups. 

Networking online enables extroverted people to interact with lots of folks simultaneously and even build a following on their platform of choice. Meanwhile, it allows introverts to talk with others on their terms from the safety of their computer.  

Worth mentioning are:

Linkedin

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is the best place to identify people you want to network your way to. Additionally, it helps you stay in touch with people you’ve met previously. It’s not the best place to directly contact people, but it’s highly effective when combined with other networking environments. For more on Linkedin, read through our LinkedIn guide for tips on how to maximize this platform.

Twitter

Twitter is the world’s open conversation on niche topics, from new products to fintech to science. It’s a fantastic window into people’s real personalities in the workplace. On Twitter, you have the opportunity to build relationships slowly over time with minimal overhead. Start by following thought leaders in your industry and build from there! Here are a few tips on how to network like a pro on Twitter.

Online Groups

Facebook, Slack, and Discord Groups: You might not realize that there are countless public online groups for shared professional interests. A couple of quick examples are Austin Digital Jobs on Facebook, Colorado Product on Slack, Women in Tech on Slack, and React Users on Discord. These are great places to find people that you have something unique in common quickly, and they often have a job board of sorts. Here are a few tips on networking through Slack. 

Online Networking

Summing Up Networking Environments

As you’ve likely caught on, any event with people in your industry who don’t work for your company can be considered a networking environment.

Yes, you could spend eternity networking. Remember that you don’t need to try all of these simultaneously. You can be highly successful without ever testing networking tips all. Aim to get good at just one or two of them. It doesn’t matter which ones, as long as they’re a fit for you. 

Getting in Touch

Now that we’ve talked about places where you can meet and develop relationships with people, let’s shift to working your network as an active job seeker. At this point, you should have a solid grasp of the essence of networking, its benefits, and all the places where it happens. 

Let’s get tactical about networking as a job seeker and show you how the sausage is made...

Assume that you end up in this common situation: You’ve found a company you’re excited about, and you have reason to believe they might hire someone like you soon. You know that if you come in through a referral, you’re more likely to get the offer, and it’s expected to be a better offer. So, it’s time to get in touch with a human at that company. 

Alright. So what do we do?

Great question. Well, there are three main methods. From try-this-first to last resort, they are Warm Intros, Warm Outreach, and Cold Outreach. 

Let’s break them down.

Warm Intros 😃

Hands down, the best way to get introduced is by artfully requesting an introduction through your existing network. That’s called a warm intro. 

The benefits of warm intros are many:

  • Increases your perceived value. People bootstrap their opinions of others from the views of people they already know. The more that your target likes your introducer, the more primed they’ll be to like you right off the bat. We’re all human, after all.

  • Make it more challenging to say no. For better or worse, people often say yes to intros because saying no can make the asker feel bad. This is not an ideal way to start a conversation, but it is sure is better than nothing ;). 

  • Breaks the ice. Intros give you a warm starting point for the conversation. It’s the old, “How do you know the introducer?” conversation. This is a friendly place to start and an easy one to boot.

  • It can be an unspoken requirement. For some extremely competitive and highly-paid jobs, essentially everyone hired comes in through a warm intro.

Now, you might be sitting there thinking that you don’t have access to warm intros, which is why you’re reading this guide. Maybe you don’t know anyone who works in the industry you’re targeting or at the companies you’d like to join. Hang in there. We’ll figure it out together.

For starters, you do likely have a pathway to where you’d like to go. Even if you don’t directly know anyone yet, people in your network have their networks. If you have 300 connections, and so does everyone else in your network, that’s likely to be 90,000 people that you have access to. This is where the magic of networking happens! ✨

When someone you know introduces you to someone in their network, you’ve got yourself a warm intro. 

Warm intros are mutually beneficial. It’s a positive excuse for the introducer to reach back out through the network and rekindle the relationship for them. Suppose they make an introduction that leads to getting hired. In that case, that feels great, is legitimately valuable for their social capital, and can lead to a cash referral bonus. You’re offering someone an opportunity to do something that benefits them. The more you get behind that, the better this will all go!

How do you get a warm intro, then?

Asking for a Warm Intro

The first step is making “the ask” or the request. It’s helpful to get this question clear in your mind and be strategic about how you make it. Your goals are:

  • Identify who to ask

  • Ask the question in a way that positions you as a high-value individual, not just a person looking for a job

  • Make the ask as easy and pleasurable as possible for the other person to take action 

Let’s assume you’re hoping to join a startup in Chicago. In that case, you’ll want to find the people in your network that are most likely to know people at startups in Chicago. Start by asking around in the subsequent few networking conversations you have and reaching out to anyone you have a hunch might help.

Then, make the ask:

  • ✅ Say something like, “I’m interested in talking to folks at early-stage startups in Chicago. Do you know anyone at a startup in Chicago?” Asking a specific question achieves your positioning goal and makes it easy for the other person to answer. It means you’re more likely to end up with an introduction that ends up being useful.

  • ❌ Don’t say anything like, “I’m looking for a job. I’m wondering if you might be able to help me out?” Humans are hardwired, so we don’t respond as positively to the question when put that way. It can make people feel used. It’s also much harder to answer because you do not indicate what “help” means or entails.

Teeing Up the Intro

In relatively short order, someone will likely say yes! They’ll verbally commit to making an intro. From here, your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to follow through. 

So, offer to email them a few sentences about yourself. They’ll use this “blurb” to copy and paste from it when they reach out. A blurb saves time, reduces cognitive overhead, and because it’s coming from you, provides a clearer upfront understanding of who you are and what you’re looking for.

Here’s an example “blurb”:

My friend Phoebe is excited about the fintech startup landscape. She’s been in marketing and offering development for five years at JP Morgan Chase. She would love to learn a bit about your experience at DailyPay and any advice you might share. Her LinkedIn is: here.

Of course, the introducer will sometimes edit or shorten this, especially if they’re reaching out in a casual medium (e.g., a text message). 

If there is a real concern that your introducer might not follow through (i.e., they seem busy, distracted, not impressed, or your conversation was terse), make the ask very small. Ask them to send a forwardable email to the person you want to meet. If all you ask of someone is to click forward and type a few words, it’s a lot harder to say no! 

Replying to an Intro

Once you believe your introducer has reached out, then it’s time to prepare for the intro itself. 

Treat an intro email as the highest priority item in your day and reply immediately to it. You’ll want to be checking your emails very consistently so that you’re ready to respond quickly. 

Aim to reply within less than 1 hour. Yes, really. In 2021, it’s not necessary to worry about seeming overly eager. It’s much more important to move fast. Your biggest risk is that your person will get distracted by something else, and replying quickly is a good way to mitigate distraction. 

Replying quickly is also important to let your mutual connection know that you’re on top of things. BCC them in your response to their introduction. 

Here’s a template for how to reply to an email introduction: 

Thank you, Rebecca (bcc)! Really appreciate the introduction.

Hi Margot,

Great to connect. Screencastify intrigued me because virtual learning has the potential to improve access to education for everyone, and I like the approach you’re taking to eliminate the barriers that often get in the way. I listened to your CEO on a podcast recently and am very interested to learn more.

Do you have availability for a brief phone call next week? I'm flexible anytime 9 am - 12 pm ET tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday of this week.

You can learn a bit more about me here: linkedin.com/carrietreehorn

Thanks,

Carrie

A template like this works well because:

  • It’s concise and easy to read. It doesn't look like a lot of work to handle

  • It restates who you are and builds a very basic level of credibility

  • It gets ahead of the scheduling question to reduce would-be back and forth over email

Following Up

Remember that the introducer is putting their reputation on the line for you, so it’s 100% your job to make them look good and feel included. Send your contact a meaningful thank you for making the introduction, and then circle back to let them know how the conversation went. 

Warm Outreach 😃

Reaching out to someone you know loosely is what we call warm outreach. This can be super effective when done correctly! It can also be faster than going through a warm intro. 

Warm outreach means skipping an intro step and directly reaching out to the person you want to talk to. 

You can do a warm outreach to:

  • Someone you know but haven’t talked to in a while

  • Someone you know but haven’t ever talked to about work

  • Someone you met once or twice but didn’t keep in touch with

  • An intro you missed replying to (it happens to the best of us 😅)

Reaching out to someone you have something real in common with, but don’t per se know at all, is what we call warmish outreach.  This can be quite effective when done correctly! It is the same thing as warm outreach, just with more tenuous connections.

You can do warmish outreach to:

  • Someone who is an alumnus of your employer

  • Someone who is an alumnus of your school

  • A 2nd-degree connection on Linkedin with a strong intermediary connection

  • Someone you’re connected with on Linkedin, even if you don’t remember why

  • Someone with a shared sport, fraternity, club, school, religious, cultural, or other orientation

Once you have your contact in mind, you simply reach out. This is usually via email, LinkedIn messages, or Twitter DMs. Pick a platform that they’re active on. We recommend you default to email because it’s the most likely to get seen. But, if the person is very active on Linkedin or Twitter, that can also work great. 📧

What to Say

What you say in your warm outreach will determine if you get a response and the quality of that response. It’s astronomically essential to craft the message well. To help you out, we’ve got plenty of outreach templates that work inside the Placement app. Head over to this link to sign up for Placement and get started.

At a high level, your outreach message must:

  • Include some way to connect. Be a human, establish relevance, and think about how you are strengthening a relationship. Don’t be transactional.

  • Be clear about why you’re reaching out to them specifically and what you are looking for.

  • Be one step of a multi-step communication chain. You’ll need to track this message so you can follow back up later to keep the person involved and let them know how else they might help.

Once you’ve communicated with the person you did a warm outreach to, keep them involved in your job search process. Especially if they went out of their way to help you, they’re going to feel invested in your success. 

Cold Outreach 🙂

The third approach to networking is cold outreach, which involves reaching out to someone who works at a company you’re interested in to ask for a conversation. 

Cold outreach can be the best fallback option when you don’t have a warm intro available and don’t have a contact that you can reach out to for warm or warmish outreach. It’s best used in conjunction with applying to a job that you’re excited about. It can be a way to stand out in the hiring process and draw extra attention from the hiring manager or recruiting team.

While it’s always easier to get a response from someone who introduced you or you have something/someone in common, cold outreach can be surprisingly effective.

Most cold outreach doesn’t work because it’s insufficiently personal and too easy to ignore. So, the most critical guidelines for cold outreach are:

⭐ Write a super personalized, well-crafted note that makes people feel good. They’re likely to respond. We all like to feel special. Cold outreach via mass emails is not something that anyone recommends.

⭐ Show how it will benefit them. People don’t want to feel used or like they are just a stepping stone for you to land a job. See how you might get to know the other person, find ways you can support them, and create goodwill that they will likely return.

⭐ Make one very small and very clear ask. Typically, ask them to answer just one question or ask them for one 20-minute phone call. Make it clear why you’re asking them specifically. A tiny bit of flattery never hurts 😉. 

The most important thing to remember about cold outreach is you will indeed be surprised. Some people will ignore you, even if you email them three times. Other people will reply immediately and be shockingly generous. It is best to play the numbers game. Don’t think about anyone who doesn’t respond; view it as an adventure to see who might!

Cold outreach is an art in and of itself and could be a complete guide alone. To learn more, start with these articles: 

Networking Chats 💬

Alright, so you’ve now gotten in touch, secured a meeting, and are thinking ahead to the conversation. Networking chats is exciting since you never know where the conversation could lead. It could be a game-changer for your career, and it could lead nowhere. Let’s maximize the chances that it ends up being the former! 

Preparing

First things first- prep work! 🤓

The easiest way to impress someone in a networking chat is to be meaningfully prepared - more prepared than most people they talk to in a context like this. Showing you put in the work already will significantly increase the likelihood the other person feels inclined to help you. 

To prep, research your person and job down the answers to these questions: 

  • What is their job? How does it relate to the role you’re interviewing for or interested in?

  • What is their professional background?

  • How long have they been with the company?

  • What’s been their career path?

  • Where did they go to school?

  • Do you have any mutual connections? Can you glean some intel from those mutual contacts or bring them up in conversation?

  • Do you have any similar interests or volunteer activities that you might bring up during your conversation?

You should easily find these answers by looking at the person’s LinkedIn profile, company profile, and public social media accounts. You can also Google their name and asking the person that introduced you for information. 

We promise it is flattering and appreciated to do this. It’s not creepy. It leads to better questions, richer conversations, and a higher likelihood of starting a relationship that lasts beyond the meeting.

Anything that you do find the answer to will become talking points for your conversation. Things that you can’t find the response to will become great questions to ask during the meeting. 

Speaking of questions... As you’re researching, generate five or so questions prepared in advance of your meeting that you want to ask the other person. This preparedness signals to the other person that you truly appreciate their time and their expertise!

It’s perfectly acceptable to bring your written notes and questions with you or have them in front of you on the phone or the screen. Of course, the conversation should naturally flow and feel enjoyable for the other person. But if you need to glance down at your prepared questions from time to time, that’s all good.

During the Meeting

You never know how this other person may be able to help you now or in the future. Be sure to pay attention to the basics of how to make a great impression. That means:

1. Take time to build rapport

Don’t just dive into your prepared questions - this makes it feel like an interrogation. Instead, make small talk, easing into the conversation, and get to know the other person. For example, you might say, “Before we jump in, how do you know {Name of Connection}?”

2. Clearly state the goal of the conversation.

It’s awkward to get on a networking call with someone when you don’t know why the other person wanted to talk to you. In the first few minutes, share why you’re looking forward to the conversation and state what you’re hoping to get out of it. Also, confirm the amount of time you have scheduled. 

For example, you might say: 

“I know we only have 30 minutes scheduled, so let’s dive in. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how you transitioned from the nonprofit world to tech since this is what I’m hoping to do as well.”

You can also say:

“I want to be respectful of your time as I’m sure you’ve got a lot going on today. I had a couple of initial questions about your experience at {Company Name}. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the company and am interested in hearing more about what it’s like to work there.”

Since you requested the meeting, the other person will most likely be looking for you to run it!

3. Let them talk about themselves.

It’s key to have questions planned, but don’t stick to a script. First, give the person a chance to talk a little about themselves. Listening to them first will set you up to ask more relevant follow-up questions and tailor the rest of the conversation based on what you learn.

For example, you might say:

  • I’m excited about {Your Company Name} because {why you might be a match}. Can you tell me a bit about your experience there thus far?

  • It seems like you work on {what you think they do}. I’m not super familiar with that role. What exactly does it entail?

  • Also, I was curious if you don’t mind sharing. How did you end up joining {Company Name}?

We all love talking about ourselves. Let people feel good! 🥰

4. Ask your questions.

Your questions should show that you’ve done your research and should tailor to who you’re speaking with. If you’re meeting with an executive, you will want to make sure that you’re asking higher-level questions about the industry or company you’re looking to learn about.  

Higher-level questions could look something like this:

  • Do you ever interact with people who do {my job function} at {Company Name}?

  • To the extent you know, how is it different from that role at other companies?

  • Any thoughts on what you’ve seen make people great at this? Either at your company or in the industry in general.

  • It looked like the team might be hiring. Do you know what they’re looking for?

Keep your questions short, easy to understand, and speak in a light and playful tone.

5. Show active listening.

You’ll make the other person feel heard, valued, and appreciated if you give cues that you’re interested in what they’re saying. To do this:

  • Take notes

  • Smile

  • Make eye contact

To verbally communicate this, you might say:

“Thanks, I appreciate your perspective on all this. I’m learning {play back to them what you’re gleaning from the conversation}.”

Make your person feel heard. It goes so far!

6. Mirror their communication style.

Notice how the other person communicates, and adapt your communication style accordingly. Mirroring communications styles also might be shaped by the context of the conversation. If a mutual friend introduced you, you might have a more casual tone. Alternatively, if you’re talking to a former colleague’s current manager, you’ll want to be highly professional and buttoned up.

7. Make an ask.

At the end of your networking conversation, if you’ve built a strong rapport and the other person has signaled that they want to be helpful for you, you can make a specific ask of them. 

Select your ask based on the tone of the conversation. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Very best case: They offer a direct introduction to a hiring manager without you even asking

  • Best case: They propose to refer you to the role or connect you with a friend

  • Good case: You ask to talk to someone at the company who knows more about the role you’re interested in

  • Decent case: You ask to be referred internally to the position

  • Fair case: You ask them to forward an email to the hiring manager or recruiting team on your behalf

  • Fallback: You ask for the hiring manager’s name and reach out to them, referencing this conversation

  • Super fallback: You ask to be referred to someone else that they know.

Ways you can make this specific ask are:

  • “Amazing, I’d really appreciate that. Thank you. Any other general advice you might have for someone in the job market for this sort of position?”

  • “How would you advise applying for a position at your company?”

  • “Would you be willing to refer me?”

  • “You mentioned you have a friend who works in the product design space. Do you think they’d be open to a conversation with me?”

  • “Who else might you recommend I talk to about X? I’m interested in casting the net broadly as I’m launching my job search.”

  • “Would you be willing to take a quick peek at my resume and share your initial impression?”

  • “Are there any companies, in particular, you’d recommend that I look at?”

Think ahead about how you’re going to make the ask. It’s the single most crucial part of the whole meeting for you.

8. Find a way to add value.

Even if you’re talking to someone with decades more experience than you, there’s an understanding that they are focused on supporting you. Try to find a way to add value to them. Remember, networking is about mutual value💎. Here’s a few examples of how to make the offer to add value: 

  • “You mentioned that you’re looking to hire a new director for your team. My former manager would be an excellent fit for the role, and I know she’s open to new opportunities. Would you like me to introduce you?”

  • “I truly appreciate your time today and would love to pay it back to you in any way I can. What can I do to be helpful to you?”

  • “It sounds like your daughter is thinking through the pros and cons of going to a large university. I went to UCLA and would be happy to share my thoughts with her on what I experienced if that would be helpful?”

Even if you don’t end up being able to help, the fact that you offered matters a lot.

9. Thank them!

You really can’t go wrong in writing a thank you note. It shows the other person you value their time and really listened to their advice. Aim to send an email thank you note within four hours of a networking conversation. 

There’s a real art to writing a great thank you note. Your message should be genuine and include at least one specific takeaway from your conversation. We’ve put together thank you note templates that are sure to impress - check them out in our Placement app. These templates sure make thank you notes easier to write and far more impactful!

Building Relationships 💪

One of the biggest mistakes people make when networking is meeting people once, getting one small thing done together, and then letting the relationship wither.

🙅 Not on our watch! 🙅

Networking is professional relationship building, and relationships take time. There really aren’t shortcuts. You simply have to follow up with people and stay in touch. This is all about delayed gratification. You never know who will help you down the road (and we’re talking 5 minutes or five years later!), and honestly, it’s better for everyone if you don’t think too hard about it that way.

The first step in maintaining the relationship is to send a thank-you note after your networking conversations. For the details on how to write a thank-you note that ‘wows’ the other person, check out our guide here.

If someone made an introduction for you, be sure you let them know what ended up happening with that introduction. Take time to send the introducer a note sharing what you got out of the conversation with the person in their network, and thank them again for connecting the two of you. 

Similarly, if the other person gave you advice on the following steps to take, provide them with an update on the progress you’ve made and the ways their suggestions helped you.

These follow-ups give you a natural excuse to have another touchpoint with the other person (hello, relationship building!) and allow you to re-express your gratitude. That’s a win-win!

#Winning

Staying In Touch

You are going to meet hundreds of people throughout your career and networking journey. It’s surprisingly easy to forget all of the people you’ve interacted with over time, so start early in keeping a record of the people you want to stay in touch with.

You can easily do this by keeping a running Excel spreadsheet with the people’s names in your network. You should also include the context for your interaction with them, the date you last spoke, and any important notes from your conversation.

Countless platforms make tracking your network easy. We recommend Nimble as a way to maintain a database of your network. 

Keeping track of your network takes time and effort. But it 110% pays off in the long run. You’ll be blown away by how people can pop back into your life. They give you access to new opportunities or have the perfect perspective for you at a new stage in your career.

To actively maintain your network, aim for three touchpoints with each person per year. What’s a touchpoint? Well, it can be several things:

  • Quick email exchange

  • Making an introduction between two people

  • Sending a relevant article that would find interesting

  • Phone call

  • Coffee

  • Lunch

  • Passing along an invitation to an event

  • Text message

These touchpoints don’t have to be anything significant - you just need to find a way to stay on people’s radars and have a pulse for what’s going on in their life. 

Staying in touch will allow you to maximize your networking efforts so you can benefit for years to come. So, get out there and start building your professional relationships! We can’t wait to hear how it goes. 💖

Elise Gelwicks
Elise is a communications and emotional intelligence training consultant for companies and law firms
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