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30th August 2023 · The Clay Team

Your Guide to Career Networking – Getting a Job Through Networking

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Career networking may sound intimidating and challenging, but it is a key component for success in the job search process. Studies have shown that most jobs are filled by career networking rather than a job application – or even perfect cover letters! Thus, taking the time to reach out to relevant acquaintances and professionals to build your network could be the difference between finding the perfect job and missing out on your dream opportunity.

Career networking is also important because it can help you identify potential industries or roles that you didn't realize were options – not just get a specific role at a specific company.

Before we dive into career networking, it's important to answer "What is networking?" We answer the question "What is networking?" pretty broadly: networking is building relationships with people who have similar professional interests and accomplishments as you – or who have interests and accomplishments you would like to emulate. Networking is about getting advice, help, and resources from the people you build a relationship with, and trying to reciprocate when you can.

This guide is a career networking 101 course. It will share with you why networking is important and provide you with the tips and tricks you need to make the most of your career networking opportunities. By leveraging and cultivating your existing connections and associations and putting yourself out there with strangers, you will discover interesting and relevant job opportunities that may be perfect for you. In addition, this guide will also help you learn how to use career networking to land a great job.

Whether you’re just starting in your career or are engineering a career or industry change, career networking can help you find and land the career of your dreams. In fact, we built Clay because we believe relationships change the world.

Why networking matters

Networking is an important part of any successful career – and life in general! It allows you to make connections with people who are doing things you respect or admire. It also allows you to get advice from professionals who have already achieved success. As I mentioned before, not only can networking open doors to job opportunities that may not be listed or advertised, but it can also help you discover interesting jobs and careers that you didn't know existed. Networking expands your mind and your realm of possibilities. These people then become important supporters, giving you advice, making introductions, and helping you get jobs and opportunities.

But networking isn’t just about job opportunities. It’s also a great way to make connections and build relationships with people in your industry. You can use networking to connect with people who have similar interests and career paths and get advice from those who have already achieved success. You can also use networking to gain valuable insights into the job market, such as what skills are in demand and what employers are looking for.

Overall, career networking can be a great way to gain access to opportunities you may not have known about before. It can also give you valuable insights into the job market and help you make connections with people in your industry. So take the time to build your network and you may find yourself with more job opportunities than you ever thought possible.

Your career is a winding journey and networking can help you navigate it!

Career networking and getting a better job

Finding the right job can be a daunting task, especially when you are trying to break into a new industry. This is another reason why networking is important. It can be difficult to know what job opportunities are available and what each job actually entails. Networking is a great way to get an understanding of the job market and learn about different opportunities.

In their book Design Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans suggest that having many conversations with people in interesting careers can help you discover things that interest you. By having these open conversations with people you meet, you can learn about a variety of job prospects in a low-stress way. It is an opportunity to explore options you knew existed but didn’t know much about, and to discover new job prospects you didn’t even know existed. Having these conversations can help you uncover better job opportunities than you knew existed – the people you talk to can become acquaintances or even friends that help you land a job or internship, or build your career.

Career networking is an invaluable tool when it comes to shaping your life journey. It is an ideal way to learn more about the industries or careers you’re interested in and the job opportunities available. With the help of career networking, you can gain access to valuable information and increase your chances of landing the perfect job or internship.

Burnett and Evans argue that informational interviews are an important part of building a career. Source

Career networking is good for the short and long term

Career networking is essential in today's job environment. With a career that lasts several decades and can change every few years, it's important to build relationships with potential employers, supervisors, co-workers, and colleagues in the same field.

Networking can help you stay informed of current industry trends and job opportunities. It can also open doors to unadvertised job opportunities and provide access to mentors and advisors. Someone you met years ago for a brief conversation might reach out about a perfect opportunity down the road.

Long-term networking can provide a lifelong network of contacts and resources that may be able to help you in your future endeavors. Whether you're looking for advice, consulting, guidance, or potential job opportunities, networking is an invaluable tool that can help you succeed in your career.

Overcoming the fear of career networking

It can be intimidating to reach out and start conversations with friends and family about work – let alone strangers. It’s important to remember that everyone is a little bit nervous when it comes to networking. Reassure yourself that the benefits of having a new relationship far outweigh the nerves.

When you’re networking, it’s not just about what someone can do for you. It’s important to remember that you can be helpful to them, too. You want to reciprocate whenever you can. Ask questions that show your interest in them and think about ways that you can help them. Having a positive attitude and being open to making new connections can go a long way in making networking a successful and rewarding experience.

Networking can be a great way to find new job opportunities and build relationships that can help you in your career. By being open to new connections and having a positive attitude, you can make networking a rewarding experience. Once you begin to have some positive experiences with networking you will gain confidence and begin to enjoy networking.

The three-step approach to career networking

Even though we all know why networking is important, career networking can still be really difficult to approach. Thankfully we've developed a simple, easy-to-remember, logical three-step approach to career networking. This is career networking 101, but it's also applicable to all levels of career networking.

The first step is to start meeting with people you already know. Reach out to your friends, family, acquaintances, and co-workers and ask them for advice or insight. You may not think that you know anyone relevant but really try to think about people related to your chosen career. You'll likely surprise yourself with the people you already know.

Once you have built your confidence by networking with people you already know, you can start to work outwards and reach out to your second-degree connections. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone who might be able to help. Be very open-minded when you ask them if there is anyone who might be able to provide advice or insight about your career. You'll end up having more interesting meetings if you are open-minded to a broad variety of conversations. This is a great way to get started, as you will likely feel more comfortable talking to people you know.

Finally, you can start to reach out to strangers who have a reason to care. This could be someone who works in the same field, who may be able to provide advice or help you get in touch with potential employers. It could also be someone who shares a common interest or someone who you have something in common with. This may also be someone who you give a reason to care about you by how you reach out. You can share your reason for choosing to reach out to them specifically or your desire to follow in their footsteps, for example.

By following these steps, you will be able to make the most of your networking opportunities and develop your career. Networking can be intimidating, but it is one of the best ways to find job opportunities and further your career. Start by reaching out to the people you know, and then work your way outwards. With the right approach, you can build a strong network of contacts that will be invaluable

Step 1: Friends and Family

The first step of career networking 101 is to reach out to people you already know. Your friends, family, professors, and acquaintances are likely a much more valuable resource when it comes to networking than you think. By beginning with people you know, you can build confidence and momentum in your networking journey.

Even if they don't have direct and specific knowledge of the opportunity or internship you are interested in, your friends and family are the most willing to help you. They can also probably provide you with valuable information about related fields or opportunities, which might open more doors for you – it is important to be open-minded and take advantage of all the resources available to you. Keep in mind that networking doesn’t have to be a formal process. Start building relationships and learn from the people you meet – remember that every relationship you build is worth more than several applications or cover letters!

Step 2: Second-degree connections

The next step is asking your family and friends to introduce you to other professionals they know who may have insights or contacts that can help you make progress on your career path. Your friends and family probably have a much bigger network than you realize. They can help you brainstorm and connect with people who might have very relevant experiences with what you are trying to do.

Encourage your friends and family to dig deep into their Rolodexes and think about their former colleagues and coworkers. This is usually an extremely magical step – it really feels like networking magic when someone you know begins to think of people that they could introduce you to! And introductions are key! A warm introduction can open a lot of doors and help you get conversations that may have been difficult otherwise. Remember to respect the introduction by being very professional in the conversation and sending a thank you note. Your friend or family member made the introduction, and so your behavior is reflected back on them.

Once you've finished a networking chat, don’t forget to ask each person if they know of anyone else you should talk to. This is a key momentum-building step that is core to career networking 101. You'll find that many people you meet with are happy to think of other relevant people to introduce you to! This allows you to continue your success in networking and find more people to build relationships with.

Step 3: Friendly strangers with a reason to care

Once you’ve exhausted your contacts among friends and family, as well as second-degree connections, you can begin to reach out to strangers. When people ask "What is networking" this is often what they have in mind: reaching out to strangers. But, as we've covered, reaching out to strangers is actually the final step.

To maximize your success rate, it’s important to focus on strangers who have a reason to care about you and your career journey. Even though most people are pretty nice, they are often very busy! You can stick out in their mind by giving them a reason to care about your job journey. This may be someone with a similar background or interests – someone who went to the same school or likes the same sports team. Researching LinkedIn profiles and personal websites can be a great way to find potential contacts who you have something in common with. More likely, however, you won't have anything immediately in common. Instead, you'll need to share your interests in a way that makes them care about you.

Craft a narrative about who you are, why you are exploring the job or opportunity you are, and how their insight or experience could be extremely helpful to you. Express genuine curiosity to learn from them – and to even share something that you think might be helpful to them!

When you reach out, it’s important to ask for advice, not a job. Asking for advice isn’t just polite, it can help you get valuable insight into different career paths and options. It will also make sure your conversation is more casual than if the other person thinks you are trying to get hired. A great way to ask for advice is to ask for help in brainstorming career paths and options. It’s likely that the person you’re contacting has had their own successes and failures in their own career and that they may be able to offer valuable advice. Here is a great resource for preparing for a chat like this.

Networking with strangers can be an intimidating prospect for job seekers, but it doesn’t have to be. With some research and a well-crafted message, you can reach out to new contacts and start building valuable relationships.

Take the time to craft a reason for a stranger to respond to your message. It will pay off!

Moving from conversation to job offer

Congratulations! You've successfully networked with friends, friends of friends, and strangers. You're beginning to use the power of career networking! But how do you turn these conversations into a job?

There are several paths that career networking conversations take on their way to a job. Sometimes a conversation doesn't produce any interesting insights or leads. That's a bummer, but it's OK! You can keep generating new ones! Sometimes someone you meet suggests a job opportunity that is perfect for you, either at their company or at another company. In that case, ask them to introduce you to other relevant people at the company who can help give you insight into the role. You can even ask them to help you prepare for the interview if you feel that is appropriate. Other times people can't think of any specific role right now. In that case, you can ask them to keep an eye out for you and help you find something that meets your needs. Don't forget to follow up with them occasionally to check in and see if they've seen anything! Clay is a great tool for this.

Finally, as you job search, you should look out for roles at companies where you know someone. When you see something relevant at the same company as someone you’ve talked to, you can message them and ask for advice. They may even offer to refer you or put in a good word for you.

Even if an interesting job opportunity is at a company where you don't know anyone, you can still reach out to people you’ve talked to and ask for their advice. They may have connections at the company or have other helpful insights to prepare you for the interview.

Although these steps may seem indirect, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your conversations can help you get the job you deserve. By networking and building relationships, you can open yourself up to job opportunities that you may have never heard of before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from the connections you’ve made.

Never stop career networking

Networking is an important part of any robust career. It can help you make connections, discover new opportunities, and build relationships. The key to successful networking is to approach it as a long-term endeavor. Really try to have interesting conversations with people. Be curious about their advice, opinions, and experience. And, when you have a networking chat don’t just think about how it could help with your current job - try to envision how it could be useful for your next job, and even beyond.

Networking can be a daunting task, but it’s important to try to enjoy it. Think of it as a chance to talk to interesting people and gain insight into your chosen field. You may even discover amazing things happening in your life and career that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Finally, don’t forget to give back. As you find success, take the time to have a networking chat when someone reaches out to you. You never know what it could lead to! With the right attitude and effort, you can make a network of contacts that will be invaluable throughout your career.

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