6 Networking tips find new job

The 6 networking tricks that will help you find a job

People are very proud of their online networking credentials nowadays, and understandably so - whether it's LinkedIn, or followers on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Yet only a few years ago it meant something very different. Have we unwittingly witnessed the death of face-to-face networking?

We argue not. Personal communication is still tremendously useful and when actively or passively looking for new opportunities, face-to-face networking could be just what you need. Meeting people is a great way to generate trust, build your reputation, open doors and generally increase your chances of securing a new role.

There is a real skill to face-to-face networking, especially whilst looking for a job and it’s all too easy to overlook important factors. Here are a six networking tricks you can try if you are looking for a new opportunity.

Target your search

First, consider your approach. You need to think long and hard about the kind of role you want, and how you go about locating it. For instance, if you start networking knowing only that you want to leave your current company, you will waste your time talking to just about anyone who will listen on the off chance that they could help you. Not only is it an inefficient use of your time, the person on the receiving end will feel overwhelmed by your vague demands and won’t know where to start helping, even if they wanted to.

Instead, consider your requirements in terms of role, industry, company size, progression opportunities and company culture.

Who do you already know?

Cross-reference this with your informal network  i.e. – friends, family, friends of family, etc. Do you know anyone in your desired industry who you can take to lunch to pick their brains? Is there someone who has a really good job and you want to follow in their footsteps? Spend some time with these people.

The benefit of informal face-to-face networking is that this is a more relaxed environment where you can be subtle. Therefore, when speaking to these acquaintances, don’t immediately bombard them with questions about how they might be able to assist your job search. When you do start talking about your job search, don’t be too direct or demanding. For example, instead of saying “You work in finance, do you know of any roles?” position it as “do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the finance sector?”

Some say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” whilst others believe you can only get a job based on merit alone. We argue it's a combination of both.

Finding the right events

Professional networking may be necessary for finding new opportunities in addition to informal. Don’t just look for networking events, look out for conferences, exhibitions and recruitment fairs related to your desired industry and profession. Learning opportunities are useful in themselves, they will attract the contact type you are looking for and will provide natural areas for discussion.

Where possible try and access the list of attendees and use current contacts to introduce you to people you want to meet. Use breaks in the sessions wisely.

During the event

If you're not an extrovert, that first step of introducing yourself to someone you don’t know can be a real challenge. But remember, networking is actually the reason other people are also at the event, and they are actually very grateful to the person who does the “heavy lifting” of initiating the conversation. Never underestimate the power of small talk and the places it can take you. Just be honest and open, example-“hello, do you mind if I introduce myself? I don’t think we’ve met before” or “excuse me, I don’t know anyone here, could I join you?”

As long as your words are accompanied by a big smile, outstretched hand and good eye contact then you will always be welcomed. Once you start chatting it’s important to be professional but friendly. The way to strike the right balance is by relaxing, keeping the discussion two-way, seeing how the conversation flows and identifying any opportunities where you can discreetly “self-promote” yourself.

If the conversation reaches a point where you think this person may be able to help you find a new opportunity, then be subtle and ask for advice. For example, instead of asking outright if they can find you a job, say “given your experience in X industry, can you offer any guidance for somebody looking to build an X career in that sector”.

Top tip: Recruitment agencies will often have a rich network of clients and colleagues so if you take the time to register with an agency such as Hays, you can reach out to multiple people from just one meeting.  By having a face-to-face meeting, the recruiter can get a feel for how you present yourself, what type of places would suit your personality, and connect you with an invaluable host of contacts.

Don’t be a hit and run networker

People aren’t interested in giving you a transactional benefit but they may be interested in developing a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s critical to show interest in the people around you rather than simply try to get information or help in the short term.

Whatever context you are networking in – make sure you turn up prepared and with business cards. When receiving someone else’s business card or contact details, make notes afterwards regarding what you spoke about and remember to connect with them on LinkedIn. Keep in contact with them. Send them a follow up message – you never know what will crop up in the future.

Win-Win

Networking in person is a two-way street, it’s important that you try your best to add value as well as benefitting from them. You might have contacts or a viewpoint that can be really useful to the people you are speaking to, or you might be able to return a favos. Information travels through networks via pollination, picked up by busy bees and passed on in exchange for other nuggets.

Final tip

Many people avoid networking because it makes them uncomfortable but you never know down the line when it might come in handy. It isn't about gaining unfair advantages, it’s about developing trust. It’s about learning.  It’s also about having fun – once you begin professional networking in person it can be a real source of enjoyment.

Online networking is a fantastic tool for your professional development and both active and passive job searches. However lasting relationships are still based on face-to-face contact with human beings and it’s really important to decide how you are going to develop real-life network of professional relationships.

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