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*This post is primarily targeted towards younger professionals and college students that are looking to land a solid job in the start of their career.*
Networking can be difficult to do on a regular basis. If you are an introvert, it can be daunting to reach out and see if you can meet someone and even more if there’s a risk of getting rejected. However, networking is becoming more and more essential to getting your dream job, especially if it’s at a large technology company.
Recruiters prefer to hire someone that came from a referral over a cold application. Hiring people is a risk. You not only have to put in an investment of your time and the employees time to interview them, but if they are hired, you then have to put the money and time into training them. If that person then leaves shortly after training, you have wasted your time and money.
On the other hand, if you know someone or got a referral, the risk of that person getting trained and then leaving is significantly decreased. This makes your “ROI” on your employee much better. If that person stays for multiple years, you will easily have a multiplier effect of your decision.
So, when it comes to you looking for a job at a company, one of the most important steps to take is to get a person on the inside vouching for you. For you college grads, a network is more important than your GPA. But, where do you start?
Here is a quick roadmap that I’ve drafted up for anyone looking to network their way to their dream job.
Drawing up your roadmap
To start the exercise, you need to take a step back and think through your goals. You should take some time, write down where you want to be in a few years, how successful you want to be (really, be honest with this answer), what industry you want to be in, what type of role you like, etc.
Connecting the dots
Once you have figured out where you want to end up (or at least in the next 5-10 years), you will have your “X” that marks the spot. So, you now have your starting location (where you are currently at) and your finishing spot (the “X”).
The next step is to connect the starting and finishing point together. You do not have to do this literally, but more imagine your path of what it would take to get to your end goal. Do you have to have experience in certain industries? What about previous roles? Any coding skills? What are the soft and hard skills that you need to develop to get there? And the list goes on.
After you answer the questions, you will be able to see who, what, where, and when you need to connect with people.
After figuring out your path, identify people who ahead of you on that path. They might not be going to the same ending location, but they are currently where you want to be in a few years. This provides you with an opportunity to ask the questions that will inform you for your next steps.
These people will (or should) want to help a younger person that aspires to where they are currently at. When approaching these new relationships, it is important to have a long-term view of it. You are not wanting to simply use them and then never talk to them again. Develop the relationship. Realize that it might require you to give more than you take at points, but by thinking long-term, you will see that it pays off.
Putting it into action
The last, and most important step, is to put it into action. This is where most people will start to panic, their palms will start to sweat, and they will start to make excuses as to why they cannot reach out to people. Don’t let this be you. Identify your fears, realize that they are just that, and then overcome them.
A simple process in reaching out to people is to try and get introduced to them via a mutual connection. A simple way to find this out is to get onto LinkedIn and look for mutual connections at certain companies, job titles, etc. that will be on your path. Once you have found that person, send them a quick message, explaining why you are reaching out and want to talk to that person.
Bonus – Do not give up
Realize that it can be hard to get started in networking. You will most likely get rejected, looked over, or just ignored. Do not get discouraged. There have been plenty of stories where people were rejected hundreds of times before having their first sign of hope. Keep pushing forward. It is the people that keep pushing through these trials that will succeed.
Now, it is important to note that this roadmap will dramatically increase your chances of getting your foot in the door for an interview. It will not hand you the job, but will essentially (depending on the strength of your referral) hand you your first interview. Once you have the interview, it’s up to you to nail it and close the sale.
Also, realize that you are an extension of the person that is referring you. If you are rude, horrible, or disrespectful at all during the process, it reflects back onto your friend or family member that referred you. This will also burn any chance of them helping you in the future. Strive to leave a good feeling with everyone that you come into contact with. This will only lead to more help and better future possibilities when you ask for help.