Networking for a Job or a Career Change via LinkedIn

It is never too late, or too early, to start networkingA solid network will help you advance your career.

I sure wish I had listened to these words as I walked down the road of life. Yet the hard truth, I was too lazy and really did not see the advantage. Networking was always something I would do more of later.

My early days begin when we were using “printed” phone books to look up numbers and had boxes stuffed with business cards. Fine, it was more work, still, if I could only go back in time.

My recommendation, don’t follow the path I walked.  In the business world, networking is now much easier and it is required.

For clarity, we are limiting the content of this article to looking for a job or a change in your career. Wiki has a decent article on an overview of  “Business Networking” and it is worth a quick read if you are interested.

We’ve already advised not to use the “Spray and Pray” approach to finding companies . Use the 2nd option of actively seeking out companies around your sweet-spot and you will have a solid short list to pursue. The next step, “if” you have a business network set up and in full swing, go jump on LinkedIn.

Many folks ask me, “Why LinkedIn, there are other social sites I use?” The answer lies in the 120+ million business user profiles already on line and the excellent searching capabilities below the surface.

As an example, let’s presume you have a geographic preference of where you want to live in addition to your short list of chosen companies to pursue.

Would it help if you could perform a geographical search of the area you are interested in living and could also see  who within your existing contacts is connected to a person in one of your chosen companies and/or industries you are pursuing? If the answer is yes, the only tool I know of today which can perform this type of a search is LinkedIn.

“As with many things in life, the devil is in the details.”

You must have a network setup and running to use the LinkedIn tools effectively. If you don’t have an account setup and growing your network, it is never too late, or too early to begin.

For speed, I’ll presume you already know what type of a job you are after and time has already been spent on defining your sweet-spot to create a short list of companies and/or industries to pursue. (Industries are part of the advanced search function.)

As an example of the advanced search let’s test these attributes on my profile:

  • Keywords of Sales and Marketing.
  • VP in the current or past titles, (Connect as high as you can.)
  • Any where in the US, (I had no preference coming out of school.)
  • Industries of cosmetic, beverage or chemical, (part of my sweet-spot)

Using these attributes on my profile generates 171 specific individuals I can reach out to via my network based on a 2nd Connection Status or better.

If you recall, I am not the best at networking. Yet here are over 171 people and numerous companies for me to pursue. They are within my sweet-spot, in a career path I’ve chosen and are at a level of VP or higher.

The search capabilities will provide you a list of companies and potential individuals to do further research on. Once the search is performed, drill in and refine based on other attributes, such as specific company names, size of company, or geographic location. Providing you with a personal list of individuals to pursue as you are seeking your dream job. (Remember this link, I have barely covered the surface on what you can do with LinkedIn as a network tool. Job Seekers: Landing your dream job .)

Over 80% of all jobs are filled via some sort of a referral from an inside source.

It is this one fact alone which should jog you into action even if networking is a dirty word for you. If it was me, I’m not sure I would want to work for the other 20% who “have to advertise” to find employees.

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