Many of us will start our career networking efforts once a suitable job is posted at an employer of choice – the idea being if you can find someone who can pass along your resume internally, you stand a better chance of being noticed. For some this outreach timing is too early and we wait until after we have applied to the position to reach out to contacts within the firm. Others wait until an interview has been granted to conduct any networking efforts. So what timing is best?
While there is no wrong time to start networking, consider beginning your efforts before any job appears on a website. Identify companies of interest and reach out to professionals within those firms. Identify individuals in your target industry and city and reach out to these professionals asking for advice and assistance. All the networking happening prior to any job appearing on a firm’s website. The power of this approach results in your learning of job openings before those opportunities are posted to the public (if the opportunity ever get posted). It is better to be the candidate who’s name is being bantered around when the employer is thinking of adding staff or filling an opening rather than trying to get noticed when there are other individuals vying for the hiring manager’s attention.
Below is an excerpt for Hannah Morgan’s column on US News & World Report’s Career page. She uses the analogy of a product launch for your networking. Enjoy and I would love to hear your thoughts…
Proactive prospecting – Hannah Morgan (@careesherpa and USN&WR Career Section – http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers)
If you were launching a new product into the market, you would have a detailed plan outlining how you would introduce it to potential customers. You are that new product, so ask yourself: “Who are my potential customers?” In other words, who are the companies that need you to solve their problems? When you identify companies that need your skills, it enables you to proactively market yourself to hiring managers and inside connections instead of waiting for a job to become posted. Initiating outreach efforts before a job is publicly announced also gives you greater exposure because you aren’t competing with hundreds of applicants for the hiring manager’s attention.