How did you get your current job?
It’s no secret: You are far more likely to land a job through some connection (your network) than you are by simply sending a resume in response to a job posting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scan the job postings and submit applications – what it means is, you should also always be working your network.
In my last blog post, I offered seven ways to use LinkedIn to expand your network. Today, I’m going to try to convince you that your success depends on having a robust, broad network of professional and personal contacts.
Looking at my own career, I certainly responded to my share of job ads, back in the day when the Washington Post’s Sunday print ad section was not to be missed, and later when job postings moved online. I got three or four jobs that way.
But five times – more than any other way – I started a job because people in my network thought of me and said, I can connect you. I also landed a handful of interviews through my network, but five of them turned into jobs.
The five includes two “boomerangs” where a previous employer rehired me, because I left on a high note and kept in touch with them while I was gone. I should note that it is wise to proceed with caution when considering a boomerang job; it can work, but you have to go in with your eyes wide open. (Perhaps the subject of a future blog post.)
One of my most formative jobs came my way because the employer found my profile on LinkedIn and sent me a direct message.
I’ll pause while you read that again: The employer approached *me* through LinkedIn.
I wasn’t not looking, but I wasn’t advertising that fact on LinkedIn, and I wasn’t sending out resumes. The employer was searching LinkedIn profiles, found mine, and sent me a DM. It was the right thing at the right time, and I spent 8 years there getting tons of HR experience with small companies in a variety of industries.
I might still be there, except that a former coworker-turned-friend thought of me when a headhunter approached him about an in-house HR Director opportunity. It wasn’t the best fit for him, but he thought I might be a match. So, while I wasn’t actively looking to change jobs, I was open to having a conversation, if for no other reason than to see if anyone in my network might be a good fit for the opening.
I ended up taking that job, and nearly 6 years later, I’m still there. Once again, it was the right job at the right time. And it turns out, this job will be the one that puts me in position to go back to consulting – this time as an entrepreneur.
I value my extensive network. I feel strongly that it’s a huge advantage to be well connected. Besides the jobs I’ve found through my network, it’s a crowdsourcing goldmine. I turn to my network time and time again to seek expertise and opinions on a variety of topics. I freely offer my own expertise when someone in my network asks. And, I have appreciated all the times when a network contact of mine recommended me to someone who needed a resume update. In fact, referrals have been my best source of clients.
If you feel it’s awkward to ask people for help, I want you to know that most people will *gladly* offer help when asked. I mean, you will, right? And what’s the worst thing that can happen if you do? They might say no. But they will remember you asked, and they will feel flattered that you thought of them, and that’s a deposit in the Network Bank that can pay dividends down the line.
Here’s the thing: It is never bad to have a vast network of professional connections. You never know when you may need to source something within your network. Likewise, perhaps you will be in a position to help out someone in your own network. That’s what it’s all about.
LinkedIn may not be for everyone, but I’m telling you, it’s a great way to maintain connections throughout your career, with people who live locally and far away, friends, relatives, you name it. Because all those people you know? They know lots of other people, and it’s possible that one of those people will be able to help you in some way when you are in need.
So: If you’re currently job seeking, I urge you to double down on your networking efforts. Update your LinkedIn profile, add to your connections, send some messages. Make some calls, even! Start spreading the word that you’re on the market. Especially now, when so many employers are hiring.