A Job Seeker’s Networking Guide to Boost Your Job Search

One of the biggest issues with social networking in the age of the Internet is that human connection sometimes appears unauthentic. Most of us rely on the convenience of the one-click “connect” button to build our network, especially on Facebook and LinkedIn, and hope to get some benefits out of those online “relationships”. That common notion of networking has imposed a bad rep on what otherwise could be the single skill that helps people advance in their careers.

In the case of job search, networking if done right can add tremendous values to your profile, doesn’t matter if you are a fresh graduate or an experienced professional. But with too many distractions from spammy connection requests, how can you build one that really makes a difference (in each other’s life)?

Don’t make the rookies’ mistakes, follow this networking guide to land your dream job!

Get the mindset right: The true purpose of networking

As with anything you do in life, you must first understand the purpose behind it. This is where the majority of us get networking wrong. First of all, it shouldn’t be all about you. Secondly, it doesn’t stop at the first “hello”. Have you ever experienced receiving a WhatsApp message from a long lost friend to hang out only to find out it was another MLM scam? Don’t be that “friend” when it comes to professional networking.

For job seekers, the challenge is to get your personal brand out there and build connections from scratch. At this stage, you position yourself as a potential contributor to a future team where your expertise is of their desire.

Networking is about building long-term relationships, online or offline, among different groups of professionals to create shared values. They could be people working in the same field or any individual who shares the same interests as you, or industry players and influencers, use your domain as the compass to identify the directions of all those relationships.


Where can you meet new people

Now, your goal is to explore a new career prospect, which means the most potential place to start building connections is LinkedIn.

Assuming that you’ve already had a well-crafted profile, all that’s left to do is looking for the right contacts. Do keep in mind that LinkedIn connections, just like any other relationship, requires serious commitment and nurturing. The moment you are connected with someone, try to maintain a healthy engagement over the time.

Tip: Don’t add connections on LinkedIn mobile app because it doesn’t allow you to customise the request message. Use your browser to edit the greetings, a personal touch will help you show a more sincere interest.

Facebook or Twitter can be another source to build social connections. They have very distinctive groups of audiences, hence the nature of networking through these platforms focuses more on nurturing long-term relationships.

Of course, there are also offline networking events where you can meet people face-to-face, usually industry-centric. If you are a graphic designer looking for a freelance project, attending a suit-and-tie business conference is not going to help. So a rule of thumb is to choose the right events where you can meet the right people and for the right purposes.

You can also join any suitable LinkedIn group and take part in the discussions regularly, as soon as there’s a group gathering, you’ve at least made an impression on other members. Better yet, you can even initiate a meet-up for your own group to create networking opportunities for everyone else too.


Want to promote yourself? Prepare an “elevator pitch”

Similar to adding people on LinkedIn, building connection in real life requires a good first introduction. If you just walk into an event empty-minded, chances of you gaining values are zero. Not only will you need a goal, to hunt for jobs, in this case, you also need to prepare an actual pitch to kick-off the conversation.

Don’t fall into the cliché of introducing yourself as if you are going on a blind date, omit the personal details (age, hobbies,…) and focus only on the information that summarises your professional background. It’s also important to specify your goal right at the first interaction.

For instance, you hope to talk to a senior editor to show your desire to become a full-time writer. Your elevator pitch can be: “Hi, I’m A, it’s a pleasure to meet you here today! I’m currently a reporter for B newspaper and I’m looking to change my direction to become a lifestyle writer, as my true passion is to become a novelist. Here’s my business card, please feel free to check out my writing portfolio and contact me for a full-time opportunity.”

Also, it depends on who you are speaking to in order to determine an appropriate message. You can’t hope to land an informal job interview by talking to someone who is junior to you. However, you definitely can build rapport with that person by finding the common grounds, either personally or professionally, in turn, he or she will be the bridge connecting you with the right person who makes the hiring decision.


You’ve grabbed someone’s attention. What’s next?

Try not to get yourself into an awkward moment after sharing your elevator pitch, follow-up by asking about the person’s professional background. Don’t forget to stick with the theme of the event when developing your conversation.

The simplest way is to point back to the event happenings, for example, “How did you hear about the event? Is this your first time?”; “I was hooked the moment I read the topic of this event. What do you think about [the topic]?”; “Have you tried the salad during the break earlier? It tastes amazing!”

It’s possible to navigate the discussion to learn more about the position or the company that you aim to apply for. Try elaborating on these questions:

  • How long have you been with [the company]?
  • What is your role in [the company], if you don’t mind sharing? (if the person gives you his or her business card prior to this, you can elaborate the question based on your understanding of the job title and ask for the actual insights)
  • Do you enjoy working in [the company]?
  • I’ve heard about the recent launch of [product name], it sounds amazing! Can you share with me more about it?

Don’t forget to allow others to learn more about you too. If you are an extrovert, it shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you are an introvert, you may want to think of open-ended answers to get the other person talking. For example, a simple response to “What do you do?” is usually “I’m a writer. What about you?”, but to initiate longer discussion, you may want to say “I’m a fashion writer for Magazine B, have you heard about us?”. This way, you can shift the topic of discussion to other sides.

Equip yourself with the right networking skill and approach your job search proactively, you’ll be able to bypass the gatekeepers of the conventional application. As they say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters”.

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