Three Sure-Fire Ways to Leverage Your Network to the Max

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky, highest scoring hockey player of all time.

If you know people, you have a network. And that network has a ton of value. Nearly every job I’ve ever received has been through a connection, including the one that launched my career in the insurance industry. I’ve helped dozens of friends and acquaintances find work simply by forwarding their resumes to friends in various industries or by recommending them to managers and colleagues. When I was a hiring manager, I was always on the lookout for acquaintances and other connections, as I found it to be the easiest way to find talent. If you’re looking for work, it is vitally important that you get your network on board. You’ll be surprised at the amount of assistance your friends, family members, acquaintances and social media connections can provide. Here’s how.

1. Tell everyone you’re looking for work

Well, don’t tell your current employer that you’re looking for work, and you might want to avoid telling your coworkers, but do tell everyone else. Don’t be shy. You have lots of opportunities to talk to people about what you’re up to, so be sure to say that you’re looking for a new job. Don’t leave out any details. Explain what industry you’re in, what your background is, what you want to get into and why. It will amaze you how many people will respond with, “Oh that’s great! Send me your resume.” Or, “let me give you my friend’s email I know her company is hiring people with your skills.” Keep track of all of these connections, and then follow through

2. Take every opportunity

Once you’ve got a few connections established, make sure to follow up with them. If you’ve been given a few business cards, email each of those contacts. If a family member told you they’d send out your resume, remind them to do so and ask for confirmation that they have. It’s important to nudge your connections to follow through with their promises. It shows that you’re serious and it ensures that your resume gets seen by the right eyes. Also, take every opportunity. Even if you feel like you don’t have the qualifications for a certain job, or you don’t want to to work for a certain company or the location isn’t ideal, apply anyway. You can always turn down an offer, but you can’t get an offer without applying.

3. Use social media

Take a look at what your Facebook and LinkedIn connections are doing and don’t be afraid to message them. If you see that a connection works for a company that interests you, send them a quick message saying that you’re looking for work and ask if their company is hiring. If they don’t get back to you, no harm done. Just move on to the next connection. However, I’ve done this many times and have always gotten a response. In my experience, people are happy to help. Having said that, you might want to avoid posting status updates or tweeting that you’re looking for work, in case you don’t want your current employer to see. But direct messaging your existing contacts is a great way to leverage your social connections. Also, remember that people are way less likely to respond to mass messages. Message each connection individually with something like,

“Hi [name], how have you been doing? I see that you’re working for [company] now and I’ve actually been hoping to get into that industry. Do you know if they’re hiring? If they are I’d love to send you my resume if that’s ok. Let me know. Many thanks!”

Keep the message short and to the point. Be direct and polite and you’ll be more likely to get a response.

Leveraging your network keeps your resume from getting lost in the shuffle. It provides a human connection with potential employers that makes them far more likely to notice you. You’ve got a ton of connections in person and online, at least one of them can help you find your next job. But you don’t know until you ask.

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