How to break into the hidden job market using your network

Did you know that only around 10% of jobs are advertised? Most recruiting takes place through professional networks, which is why we call it the hidden job market.

The Hiring Pyramid

When filling vacancies, most employers use a pyramid structure – whether they realise it or not. Employers start at the bottom of the pyramid and work upwards, whereas job seekers start at the top of the pyramid and move downwards.

Therefore employers and job seekers are literally working in reverse of each other. To access the hidden job network, you need to start thinking the way an employer would think and work up the pyramid. In short, you need to start using your networks!

The Hiring PyramidIsn’t networking just handing out business cards?

Far from it! Networking is not just about meeting new people. It’s about using the people you already know, but have not yet been utilising to get to where you want to be. You need to unlock the opportunities already available to you through the people you already know.

This is useful not just for finding work, but for finding information and help whenever you need it. Start thinking about who your existing contacts are. Who do you already work with who could help with your professional development? Who have you worked with before? Who do you know outside of your company? Start working up the pyramid.

What do you have to offer?

You know what you want to achieve and you now have a list of contacts, but you need to also be clear what you have to offer your network. What problems do you solve for employers or clients and what value can you create?

It’s helpful to write a short statement outlining all of the above to use on your profiles online and as an opening statement for conversations or emails.

Expand Your Horizons

It’s time to start chatting to people. Expanding your horizons is not just about meeting new people, it’s also about asking new questions and using new platforms. There is usually a lot to be discovered about people you already know, and many new opportunities to be found through people they know.

The Internet is brimming with forums and groups of influencers and potential new contacts, so this is a good place to start. You can also use your private network to help you – you may discover that a family member you would never have thought of asking can help you. Look at local trade events and career fairs to attend, as these can be great for starting conversations. Remember to ask questions and be curious about the people you meet, as this is the best way to begin meaningful relationships.

We recently held a free webinar on this subject and you can watch the replay by clicking here. Do you have a question? Please add a comment below.

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How to grow your professional network in 7 days

Grow Your Professional Network In One Week

There is no doubt that having a strong professional network is a great foundation for career progression, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. It takes time to cultivate a valuable network of professional contacts and a lot of people struggle to get started.

That is why we have put this ‘how-to’ article together. We will help you kick-start your professional network and begin to

expand your contacts in just 7 days. All you need to do is invest in 30-60 minutes each day – that’s it. If you follow our advice over the week you will have made some real headway into building your network and if you’re looking for a new job, have a solid foundation to accessing the hidden job market .

 

Day 1

On your daily commute or over your morning coffee, take 15 minutes to think about the two following questions:

Who am I?

Who would I like to connect with?

Answering these very simple questions will help others understand why they need you in their network. Check out last week’s article on how to answer these questions. Write a short paragraph about each and save it for your records, so that you can be consistent when communicating to others.

The paragraph about who you are should include what problems you’re good at solving. It should describe what you are doing now and what you plan to achieve in the future. Be specific!

The paragraph about who you would like to connect with will describe the individuals you want in your professional network. They may be people interested in the same sector, career path, areas of interest – both professionally and for fun. These people will be useful to you and vice versa.

The aim of this exercise is to help you define what you are aiming to achieve, so when you have finished writing these paragraphs you will have a good foundation for growing your network. Now you can consider adding some of what you have written to your online profile descriptions and using them as conversation starters.

Day 2

Start connecting with people. Now that you know who you want to connect with, start searching for them online and invite them to connect with you. This could be searching and inviting new connections on LinkedIn, following Twitter

users and sending a personal @message, emailing contacts to introduce yourself.

Dedicate 30-60mins to do this – and aim to find at least 3 new contacts that look interesting. Once you get the hang of who or how to search for your new contacts, you will become very efficient and can easily start to add 2-3 contacts a day in just 15 minutes. Our member’s coaching platform provides step-by-step videos, templates and scripts on how to do this.

Your message should be about the person you are contacting, and not about you. Keep it short, concise and polite. Don’t ask any favours at this stage – if anything, suggest why it might benefit the other person to connect with you. Here’s a few examples:

“Hi Julie, It was great to meet you at the employability event last week and I enjoyed your presentation. I hope you will accept my invitation to connect on here too! Thanks, Adam.”

“Hello @AndrewG, I follow your blog and really admire your work. I would love to become part of your network. Thanks, Liam.”

“Hey Brian! I heard about you and your work through a friend, and I have a few ideas for how we might be able to work together. If you ever want to meet up to discuss ……… then please do get in touch. Here’s a link to my LinkedIn Profile Thanks, Maria.”

This might sound simple, but letting potential connections know why they should bother connecting with you will make a huge difference.

Day 3

It’s time to think about what you can offer your professional network. People tend to build relationships with others they think could be valuable to them in the future, so it’s important to showcase your potential.

Today you need to start building your reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable. How? Now that you have made some connections, show them what you’re accomplishing and learning.

Think about your biggest achievement recently – one that will impress your network. Write a blog post about it or share an article that has inspired you. Post an update on social media about your personal development or ask a question in a group that shows you are eager to learn more.

Day 4

Arrange to meet people face-to-face. Even just one person. This could involve registering for a networking event, scheduling a meeting with a new contact, researching local industry meet-ups, attending a free course in your area or going to a speaking event. Meet Up is another great (free) way to find people who have common interests.

Inviting new online contacts for an informational interview is also another great way of building a network for the purpose of changing careers or searching for new job opportunities.

There is no substitute for physically meeting people. Online networking can renew and begin relationships but they are strongest when you have met in person. Make sure that you connect with people you meet at the event, online afterwards!

See How to create a powerful and memorable networking introduction.

Day 5

Be helpful. Search for queries that you can help with today. By helping people you wish to connect with, they will be more motivated to add you to their network. Even those in your existing network will be more likely to help you in future to return the favour.

Spend just 30 minutes by taking a look at your online network’s status updates. This is an efficient way to see how you may be of “service” to your network. Respond to a request, share an article, blog or interesting piece of information, like or leave a comment – all of these are a great way to engage with your network.

Listening is the most valuable skill you can have in networking and it’s also the most rewarded. Most people like to talk about themselves and appreciate you taking an interest. It will also help you to learn about people as individuals as well as the challenges they face, and therefore build better professional relationships as a result.

Day 6

Now it’s your turn to prove that you are not afraid to ask for help. Think of a challenge you are facing at the moment and ask people in your network to help you. You never know until you ask whether others can help, and people are willing to offer advice more often than you think.

In less than 30 minutes, you could write to your contacts, post a request or make the call. Make sure to address any fears or self-limiting thoughts if this is holding you back. The majority of people want to be helpful (don’t you want to be the same?) so you will be pleasantly surprised with the response. It’s always easier to ask for help from the contacts who know you or have interacted with you, so start with these first.

When they respond, make sure you thank them but don’t just leave it there. Even if someone has given you a lengthy answer, read every word and respond in a way that proves you have considered everything they said. Turn it into a conversation. Before you know it, you are building valuable relationships.

Day 7

Thank people. Promote people. Talk about their successes. Today use everything you have learned over the past 6 days to publically promote people who have taken the time to connect with you in some way. Think about how you could thank them – whether it’s a phone call to recommend someone you met recently, or a public update linking to somebody’s website.

If someone in your network has had a recent win, share it. If they have written an interesting article, comment on it. This is a great way to start building relationships with the people in your professional network and establish your reputation as a good listener who is well connected.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

How to create a powerful and memorable networking introduction

 

Many of my clients who embraced networking as a means to change careers or get ahead in their careers have not looked back. For many it was not an easy start – especially for those who are shy or uncomfortable with meeting new people – but with perseverance and practice, their confidence grew and through this approach, and over 95% were able to secure their next role through their network.

Whenever I ask my clients to articulate what has helped them to get ahead with networking, one of the key strategies mentioned is to have a clear networking introduction prepared and rehearsed. This is also referred to as a “networking pitch” or “elevator pitch” and the purpose of such an introduction is twofold:

  1. To engage the new contact and have them be curious to know more about you
  2. To help the new contact understand who you are, who you help and the value you create

The latter makes it easier for your new network to respond to any requests you make or to volunteer suggestions, ideas or leads for your career. It also helps them to introduce you to their own contacts that may be of interest to you.

For example, one of my recent clients, Ed, had recently completed his MBA and wanted to secure an operational or general manager role within the cloud software sector. He had worked as a civil engineer prior to his MBA

and was keen to show his existing and new network that he was capable of developing strategy and leading teams to deliver results. His networking introduction informed people that his previous experience of leading multi-million dollar and multi-discipline projects, coupled with his MBA education, allowed him to help software companies struggling to expand into new sectors and territories by identifying partnerships or entry-points into new markets. This led to many new contacts introducing him to interesting businesses fitting his profile and within 3 months, he had accepted an offer with a leading cloud-based CRM company.

The simple 5-step formula to create your own powerful and memorable networking introduction

  1. Start with a hook – this a short phrase which summarises what you offer as value. In Ed’s case, he stated: I help clouds to find new territory. This was intriguing for many people and would be a great way to keep the conversation going.
  2. Stop talking – allow the listener to process the hook and provide them with the opportunity to become invested in a conversation by asking you “what do you mean”?
  3. Describe your ideal employer or clients – who do you work with or want to work with? (This could be a sector, type of company or organisation or ideal clients – e.g. cloud software companies)
  4. Describe their pain or objective (in Ed’s case, they were struggling to expand sectors and territories)
  5. Describe the value or solution you can provide – ask yourself “What problem do I help them solve? What solution do I offer?” (e.g. secure partnerships)

It’s not so much about describing your strengths or experience, or even education. The less words the better. Consider fitting your introduction into a Twitter style of 140 characters or less.

My own networking introduction varies to suit the events or people I meet but my template is as follows:

Hook – I help people to create strategies and build confidence to realise their full potential

I work with graduates and professionals who want to accelerate their career but are struggling to launch, to create winning strategies and achieve their goals.

Some final tips

1. Some of my clients find it helpful to brainstorm many potential introductions rather than fixating on getting one perfect. Once you’ve come up with several options, see which one(s) resonate the most.

 

2. Much like a CV or cover

letter, your networking introduction should be tailored to the situation. You might use a slightly different introduction when meeting a recruiter at a career fair than when connecting with peer at a conference.

3. If you are a job seeker and don’t feel comfortable saying “I do X work” when you aren’t currently employed in that area, you can adapt your language accordingly. For example: “I’m a Masters in Business graduate looking to help marketing departments to launch new products or enter new markets.”

4. Remember that the aim of a networking introduction is to lead to a further conversation. After you share your introduction, your new contact may make a comment or ask you a follow-up question about part of what you have said. Be prepared to listen for what they are interested in so that you’ll know how to continue the conversation with examples and anecdotes from your work and experience, tailored to your conversation partner’s interests. A networking conversation is not about “selling” yourself as the best candidate. It’s about getting to know each other, exploring common ground and seeing if there are ways you can help each other. And it all starts with a brief and clear networking introduction.

5. Simply taking a few minutes to develop — or refine — a networking introduction prior to a networking opportunity can help you feel more prepared, communicate more clearly, and network more effectively.

Please share your networking introduction — or get feedback on an introduction you’ve drafted – in the comments section below.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.

Balancing face to face vs. online networking

Much of face-to-face networking has shifted online over the past decade and thanks to expansion of social media our opportunities to network have significantly increased.

However, face-to-face networking remains an essential way to expand your contacts and build your professional credibility.


It’s fair to say that online and face to face networking are complementary to each other and should be used for different purposes.


What do you think are the advantages of each of these two networking channels?


Let’s start with online networking.


The opportunity to reach a nearly unlimited number of individuals in all geographies and sectors is probably the biggest advantage. It’s very easy to target your connections using social networks, you can use search criteria such as professional interests, organizations, career path, titles etc. to find

the people you want to get in touch with.

Bottomline: online networking = high visibility with minimum efforts!

Many people, especially shy people, find it easier to approach other individuals using technology. This approach has a sense of safety as you are protected by your computer screen. However, it’s important to know that spending most of your time on technology tends to kill your social skills.

 

Think of remote workers, if they do not make the efforts from time to time to physically meet colleagues, they risk to be ultimately isolated and not only lose touch with the rest of the team, but also becoming unaware of company changes and trends which are necessary to deliver efficiency and top performance.


So what about face-to-face networking?

Networking starts with trust and credibility and physical human connections play a critical role to build relationships.


Every time you make the effort to network through face to face contact you develop your social skills. These are essential life skills that help you thrive, both professionally and personally.


The strongest relationships are built trough face to face networking. When you physically meet someone you have access to dimensions that cannot be perceived while exchanging online. Think of emotional intelligence and all you can learn through observing somebody’s body language, such as eye contact or a simple handshake. Think of how you can use all these additional “signals” to make your network exchange more interesting and engaging for both parties.


In conclusion….

Our advice is to combine both online and face to face networking to help you build and maintain your network. Use social networks as a way to open the opportunity to a face to face encounter or follow up on a recent face to face exchange. LinkedIn is a great tool to help you identify the people you want to connect with, to learn about their background and help you get prepared to talk about something that is relevant to them once you meet them face to face. If there is no physical way to meet them in person, then arrange telephone call or skype chat. And if this is not practical, nurture the relationship by sharing interesting articles and tips relevant to them.

Make sure your online profile is professional and be mindful about your status updates and the information you share, in this way you may be reached for networking purposes.


We hope that you found this article helpful to guide you in finding the

right mix between social media versus face to face networking. We would love to hear about your personal experience and the benefits that you reached using these two networking channels.

Want to know more? Sign up to the pro plan at iwantmycareer.com for just $9.99 per month for painless career development to bring your career to life.
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