No matter how much things change, one thing stays the same. A good network of contacts will always help you recruit or be recruited.
Do we need to network anymore?
Networking, the art of creating contacts, feels almost out of date in an age when technology seems to do everything for us. In fact, it is noticeable that the face-to-face network groups seem to be fewer in number and have fewer attendees these days. This is a shame because the truth is that the ability to network is more important now than it has ever been.
The more we rely on video calling and other technology to communicate, the easier it is for us to become just one more person looking for a job or one more potential employee looking for the right person. Effective networking skills will help you stand out from the crowd and may even bring the right people to you rather than the other way around.
Here are six areas with some helpful tips as a reminder of how important networking is:
- Face to face is still the most effective communication, so have a pitch ready
While there is a place for network building online, actually meeting people is still the best option when it comes to building a network. One of the best things you can have is the dreaded 'pitch'. Everybody initially finds them daunting, but once you have practised it, you should find it quite natural. Try to get 'why you should employ me' or 'why we are a good employer' into a natural sounding 45 – 60 second introduction.
- LinkedIn should be more than a CV shop
Your LinkedIn profile is really important, but from the point of view of networking, LinkedIn can do so much more. For candidates, it is a great source of potential employer contact. Look for the managers and business owners in your particular area of interest and send a connection request. Then follow that up with a friendly little message saying 'thanks for connecting' with a few key points about your career so far and 'would they mind letting you know if anything comes up'. The same applies to employers; a quick search for the kind of people you are looking for and a connection can work wonders.
Don't forget to join LinkedIn groups as well. You will find there are usually plenty of groups themed to your industry. Once in them, comment and respond regularly.
- Business network groups
This one is probably more for employers than candidates. It's always worth considering joining a local network group because, apart from getting to meet other businesses, they will often spread the word for you about vacancies.
- Friends, relatives and colleagues – You know more people than you think
We often forget these both in business and in job searching. Spreading the word amongst your friends and relatives is always a good idea; you never know who they will know. Ex-colleagues and current employees are also a good option.
One of the things we often do is forget just how many people we actually know. So, a great tip here is to grab a pen and paper and make a list of people to contact. It doesn't need to be anything too complex; just a quick message will do.
- Attend industry events and open days
Most industries have national and often regional shows that you could attend. That means once a year, 100s of potential employers and 1000s of potential employees gather in one place. For Employers, there is a lot of sense in building relationships with local colleges and universities by attending open days. Even if you don't need apprentice-level or graduate-level team members at that point, you are building bridges for the future and getting plenty of free publicity… and you will get to know people who have probably taught literally 100s of potential employees.
- Build relationships over time, focus, and don't be discouraged
Getting a good network together takes time. You will need to get to know people, and they will need to be confident in you, either as a potential employee or an employer. What you are asking the people in your network to do is refer you or your business. That's actually quite a big thing to ask because they are putting a lot of faith in you. Take the time to build a relationship with them and then maintain it. Give yourself time to regularly focus on building a network.
Building a network will pay off, but it takes effort, a strategy and regular maintenance to make it work. That means having a plan and sticking to it to build those referrals.
Of course, the real masters of networking are your recruitment partners. We're here to help build a connection between the right candidates and the great employers they are looking for. Contact us if we can be of any help.