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Career Advice

How to network for jobs online when you suck at networking

If you’re going to try to network for jobs, whether it feels unnatural or you don’t know where to start, here is a method I think can help ya!

networking for jobs online

When you’re considering a new job hunt or deep into one, you know the number one advice is to tap into your network.

You’re smart, so you head over to LinkedIn to change your status to “Open to Work” so you have that green thingy on your profile picture.

While you’re on LinkedIn, you write a soliloquy about the lessons you’ve learned in your career and some BS about your new desire to find an employer that values your blah blah whatever.

You copy and paste that into a Facebook status update, then you pull up your LinkedIn account on your desktop, stage your desk to look stunning, and take a pic for Instagram, talking about your new search.

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You go to an industry networking event and you meet several new people and tell each one your well practiced pitch about a long-held dream to work at a company with a quality mission.

Then you wait.

And wait.

Your inbox was supposed to fill up by manifesting this and doing all of this hard work, wasn’t it!?

I mean yes, but it also takes actual outreach. The noise level is so high out there that networking for a job requires a lot of one on one outreach.

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Everyone has a different network, and your approach should vary, but I have a recommendation:

  1. Every week day, look at your LinkedIn connections, and pick 5 people who might recognize your name if you message them privately. Start with people you’ve worked with before who you’re on good terms with, and work your way out from there all the way to the random folks you’ve met at conferences.

  2. Send each a concise and authentic note with an ask, and you can even kind of tailor it to the context of how you know them.

    “Hey Jamie, I was laid off from Twitter and I’m on the hunt for a new Data Science role.”

    AND THEN, THE MAGIC. The ask. Don’t just tell people you’re on the hunt, give them a way to help, do the thinking for them (people are busy, cut through the noise).

    “If you know any hiring managers at any tech companies in town, would you be willing to introduce us via LinkedIn?”

  3. Don’t pester them. If they read it and don’t respond, they might just be putting feelers out. Or they’re busy. Or they’re unemployed too. Who knows? If they’re someone you’re actually kind of close to, you can reach out in another two weeks, but for the most part, one feeler per person is enough.

What should your results look like? Who knows, but if one in five people even respond, that’s one potential networking lead per day to add to the rest of your outreach and application efforts.

Whatever you do, be gracious and thank people for ANY time they commit, even if it’s just to read your note and say they can’t help. And treat anyone you’ve been connected to through a contact as gold – send thank you notes, be kind, suck up, whatever.

Another magic ingredient no one ever remembers in this whole process is keeping anyone involved updated.

If Jamie hooked you up with the recruiter at the newly funded AI firm and you had a great interview, tell them that in a concise LinkedIn note. If someone invests in you, don’t just take that investment and run, report back!

I’m not a career coach, just a human being on this planet with you, and I know that networking can be tough, especially if you feel like you suck at it or that it doesn’t come naturally.

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But reaching out to 5 people every week day can help you gain traction more quickly, even if only a handful respond… that’s better than the zero leads you had before these efforts!

And remember:

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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