The word networking means different things to different people, and can sometimes cause quite a visceral reaction when mentioned.

But when it comes to job searching, we know that networking is the single most important part of a strong job search strategy.

How many times have you heard people say “I got the job because I knew someone who worked there”? 

A lot.

But if we know networking is so damn important, how do we get it so impressively WRONG sometimes? 

In this video, we’re going to cover the networking mistakes nearly everyone is making, how to fix them, and how to network the right way to get a job.

So because of the era we live in, a lot of networking is happening online. And even more of that is being initiated through emails, LinkedIn InMail, and other written communication.

In this video, we’re going to dig into networking messaging and common mistakes, as well as other ways of looking at networking in order to make it easier on you.

First let’s take a look at networking messages.

Now your job with networking messages is to get people to read them, and then, get them to respond.

That means the onus is on you to make sure your messages are written in a way that increases the chances of this happening.

Networking Mistake: You’re Being Transactional

Many of you are treating networking like placing an Uber Eats order.

If this sounds anything like your networking game, you’re doing it wrong.

When you treat networking like a numbers game, you’re being transactional when networking should be the looooong game. Networking is about long-term relationships. 

Another problem I see with networking messages is they often create homework for the reader.

Messages like “Hi, I’m looking for a job. Can you help?” create so much homework for the reader should they actually respond including endless questions like:

“What job are you looking for?”

“What are your strengths and skills?”

“Resume – hello where is it?”

“How do you think I can help you???”

…so the likelihood is that they will NOT respond.

Networking Fix: Customizing Your Networking Messages

Since we can’t go back in time, we need to fix the right here right now.

And that is, how you’re reaching out to people.

First and foremost, you need to make sure you’re customizing the heck out of your networking messages.

That means they need to include:

Something very specific about the person you’re reaching out to that you admire about them. Stroke their ego.

How and why you believe that they are the ones who can help you.

Identify exactly what you’re aiming to achieve whether it be learning more about a target company, role, or industry. Never make it “I’m trying to get a job at…”

A call to action – are you asking for a brief moment of their time on the phone or Zoom? Would you like an intro to someone they know? Be specific.

An expression of gratitude.

Networking Mistake: You’re Reaching Out To The Wrong Recruiters In The Wrong Way

Similar to the issue with being transactional, you might be reaching out to the wrong recruiters also in the wrong way.

Some clarity about recruiters and talent acquisition professionals: their job is to find people for jobs. Their job is not to find you a job.

Also, just like any other professional, recruiters have their own areas of speciality. Examples including accounting and finance recruiters, sales recruiters, IT recruiters, the list goes on.

For many job seekers, these are things that they might be unaware of, leading to ineffective networking WITH recruiters.

Networking Fix: Targeted Messages To Targeted Recruiters

First, it’s important to do your research and uncover recruiters’ specialities before you reach out.

If you’re applying for a sales job, it’s probably not worth your time or the recruiters’ time if you’re reaching out to a recruiter who specializes in accounting jobs.

That said, they might be able to forward your message on to a colleague.

Going back to the previous fix where we outlined what your networking messages need to include, you’ll also want to make sure in sending messages to recruiters that you’re adding a few additional points including:

If there was a job posted online that they’re recruiting for, that you apply to the job online and indicate that you have in your message to the recruiter

Include a line in your message that says they should feel free to send your message and resume onto someone else if you should be in touch with someone else.

Networking Mistake: You’re Treating Informational Interviews Like Interviews

This is NOT your fault. Afterall, the word interview is in the name.

This is why I hate the term “informational interview” because it’s NOT an interview.

So they are definitely not a time to ask for a job or ask for introductions.

Networking Fix: Approach Informational Interviews As Learning Opportunities

Informational interviews are for learning.

Learning about how your contact has been successful in their profession, company, or industry and what advice they’d have for someone aspiring to be similarly successful.

It’s a time for organic connection, conversation, and relationship building. Anyone who is willing to have an informational interview with you will be thinking of other ways to help and other people with whom to connect you. So come prepared with thoughtful questions and let the conversation unfold naturally.

Networking Mistake: You’re Putting All Your Eggs In Your Networking Basket

As mentioned before, networking is critical to your job search success.

But it’s not something to be done in isolation.

You may have heard headlines like “how to get a job without applying online” which I think are misleading.

Jobs are posted online for a reason. To be applied to.

By only networking, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, and undue pressure on the people who you’re trying to network with.

Networking Fix: Apply Online AND Network

Do both. These are not mutually exclusive job search tactics. They both exist in a sound job search strategy.

Networking Mistake: You’re Making Networking Harder Than It Needs To Be

You’re probably overcomplicating networking making it harder than it needs to be (that’s what she said?)

Networking is just a fancy word for connecting. And in naturally connecting with other human beings, it need not be complicated and need not feel crazy uncomfortable either.

Networking Fix: Start Slow, Simply, and Don’t Stray Far From “Home”

Start networking where you already hang out and have established connections.

Friends and Family

You never know who your Great Aunt Susan might know.

Alumni Networks

Alumni networks are always trying to keep their alumni engaged and engaging together. Tap that network!

Professional Organizations

If you have a professional designation, you have a membership that you pay for, and a built in network. Professional organizations want to keep your annual dues coming in so they offer events and networking opportunities for you to take advantage of.

Next, for new people who you want to connect with, become a raving fan.

They probably hang out on social media that you use – after all, you found them somehow.

Make sure you’re engaging with, sharing, and liking their content.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by posting a thoughtful comment on their content.

I’m a big fan of Twitter and I’ve built some fantastic friendships there simply by asking questions, tweeting, and retweeting.

I’m on Clubhouse as well, which I see as having huge potential for meaningful connection.

Really there are so many places you already hang out where just making small tweaks to how you interact will pay off in networking ROI.

Being targeted in our networking is important, but what’s equally as important is to always be networking. Don’t wait until you’re job searching to network.

You don’t get your auto insurance after the fender bender right?

So don’t start the most important part of your job search AFTER you need it.

How do you feel when you hear the word “networking?” What did this video teach you about your approach? What will you change or keep doing? Tell me everything in the comments below!

Kamara Toffolo

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