The end goal of networking is to help you find a new role. It is incredibly exciting to find that perfect job that checks all the boxes on your goals and desires such as compensation, work life balance, challenge, growth etc.
However, practically speaking, every networking conversation you have will not start and end with “Do you have a job for me?”
Not every person in your network is a hiring manager, someone with the power to hire or have availability for new personnel in their team.
Having said that, every person in your network CAN help you in your journey! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to quickly identify how they can help, and extract the value from each conversation.
Here are 5 different ways your network can help throughout your job search:
1- Educate you about the sector/role
- Sector: Which industries are the best fit for somebody with your skill set? (e.g., Are the big banks currently hiring consultants?)
- Role: What type of roles are currently available at their company? In their industry? (e.g., Tech companies are hiring for Product managers, business development, engineers, etc)
- What do the roles really mean?: Product management is a wide term, can mean different things at different companies. What does a “Consultant” do? What does a Director job title really mean?
2- Validate or challenge your job search hypotheses
- Speaking to somebody who is currently in a role that you are targeting (e.g., IT implementation consultant) can validate what you believe are the roles, responsibilities, and career path for those roles
- Help you to understand that the skills you do have (or perhaps need to develop) are a good fit for a specific career path (e.g., Learning from a Product Manager that Management Consultant core skills typically lead too success in their role), which may challenge an incorrect assumption
3. Learn about companies or roles you never considered
- You were targeting Corporate strategy roles at the top Consumer Product Goods (CPG) companies, in the networking conversation your colleague mentions 5 rapidly growing CPG companies that should be added to your target list
- You describe your skill set, and through the networking conversation you learn that you’re a great fit for other similar roles you never considered
4. Recommend introductions to people you hadn’t considered
- You don’t know, who you don’t know. And you don’t know, who your network knows
- There is an ocean of people out there that can help you, that you’ve never heard about. A referral from a trusted source, can help you expand your network to many more helpful people
5. It keeps you relevant and top of mind to the people you know
- Every time you network with somebody, you remind them of who you are and your capabilities
- You never know if the perfect opportunity will land in the lap of one of your colleagues. If you haven’t recently connected with them, you will not be top of mind when they think of “who can I recommend for this role?”
As you’ve heard me say time and again, networking is not something you do just when you’re searching for a new job. You need to be networking constantly, staying in touch with your network, checking in with people so that when you’re ready to make that move- you’re not hitting up contacts with whom you haven’t connected in ages.