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It’s not what you know, but who you know. You’ve probably heard this again and again, but that’s because it’s true ― a strong professional network is key to tapping into the hidden job market. Up to 80% of job vacancies aren’t posted because employers are usually able to find people within their network.
You’re not alone if the thought of going to an industry event and speaking to a group of strangers is even scarier than the thought of being unemployed, or if you feel networking requires too much time and energy than your demanding schedule can afford. Thankfully, there are strategies that will allow you to grow your network in a way that works for your personality and schedule.
If social situations make you nervous, try giving yourself a small goal. This could be as simple as attending a small industry mixer and committing to talk to just two people. Increase your goal each time and eventually you won’t have to set a goal at all. Take it from me, a self-proclaimed introvert ― great networking skills don’t have to be something you’re born with, they can also be learned.
Career fairs are a great way to connect with employers, but if large crowds aren’t your cup of tea, there are other ways to engage with an employee or a manager at a company you’d like to work for. First, do your research and look at job positions you’d be interested in and are qualified for. Then, reach out directly through email or LinkedIn and request an informational interview. This isn’t the same as a job interview ― it’s your opportunity to learn more about a role or a workplace. If they can’t meet, they might still be willing to offer information about upcoming job opportunities.
Just the idea of trying to meet new people at a formal networking event can be nerve-wracking, so look for ways to connect that are focused on a good cause or activity instead. For example, you can volunteer at an event that a potential employer is sponsoring, or join a meet-up for industry professionals that have a shared common interest. By occupying yourself with something you’re passionate about will help you forget your nerves and bring out your shining personality to those you meet.
Need a place to start? If you’re a SAIT grad, you can take advantage of the many services offered by SAIT’s Career Advancement Services. Take part in a career readiness meet-up, request a one-on-one consultation with a SAIT career advisor, or a larger event like the SAIT Career Fair. Trust me ― the more you practice networking, the easier it will get.
Learn more about Career Advancement Services and how we can help you become a networking pro at mycareerhub.sait.ca.