5 Tips to Expand Your Network & Expand Your Career Opportunities

In today’s world it can be harder than ever to stand out in the job market. Employers make widespread use of digital technologies to screen resumes, and savvy job seekers customize their resumes so that they’ll screen in. However, not all opportunities come in the form of highly contested online job postings.

One thing you may have heard is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But what if you’re in a new community and you don’t know anyone? Or you don’t know anyone at the companies you want to work for? The answer is to reach out. Sounds great, but how do you start? Here are some ideas that have worked for me:
  1. Make a list of organizations that interest you. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t hiring today, as the connection you want to make will ideally let you know when they are hiring.

  2. Go to the organizations’ websites, look at the “About Us” section and see who has featured their contact information on the team page. Often, within an organization there are senior employees who have an interest in promoting the organization to attract talent. If you don’t find their contact information, you can also try LinkedIn to see what sort of profile they maintain.

  3. Reach out and ask to connect. Introduce yourself, your background and why you’re interested in the company. Ask if they have time to connect, and arrange a casual but professional meeting. Ideally this will be in person over a coffee or tea, but video calls can also be good.

  4. Be prepared:
    • Be respectful of their time. Arrive at the meeting spot before they do.
    • Reintroduce yourself and why you wanted to meet. Remember that these are busy people who may have 10 to 20 meetings in a single day. They will appreciate the reminder, and it will help get the conversation started in earnest.
    • It helps to prepare some questions for the person you’re meeting—how they got involved, what they did previously in their career and what drew them to the organization. You may find that you have common ground.
    • Research the organization in advance, including its history, what it does and who it serves. In your meeting you can ask questions about its corporate culture, design, changes the person has seen, and what they expect to be areas of growth. This may reveal areas in which they plan to hire.
    • Go with the flow of the conversation. There may be great opportunities for you to discover key information about the organization and for the person to learn more about you.
  5. Follow up. This one step is the difference between going for a java versus creating a relationship that will serve your career and the industry you want to work in. Thank the contact for their time. If you remain interested in the organization, let them know that you’d like to hear about any upcoming opportunities that may be a good fit.

Following these tips doesn’t guarantee that you’ll hear about 100% of the opportunities as they come up—setting up alerts on the WorkBC Job Board is the best tool for that. However, making a good impression will help you build a robust professional network of meaningful connections with potential employers. And when your connections advise you to apply for an upcoming job posting, you’ll be more likely to stand out from the crowd.