For some, networking is the most daunting part of a job search. While a good resume is a must, leveraging contacts can be a big help, too, and it’s easier than you might think.
First, reach out to people you know. Maybe your former cubicle-mate is aware of a great opening in her current office, and it could be just the opportunity you’re looking for. Even if she can’t help you directly, she might be in touch with people who can.
If your immediate circle of contacts doesn’t produce any leads, search LinkedIn for managers at companies that interest you. LinkedIn will indicate if any of them are in the 2nd or 3rd degree of your network, meaning they know someone you know. Once you’ve identified a potential contact, reach out to your mutual acquaintance and ask him or her to make an introduction—really, it’s OK.
If you can’t find a personal connection to your dream job, you can try the direct approach. While it may be outside your comfort zone, reaching out directly—and politely—to someone you don’t know can be effective.
This tip is pretty obvious, but it’s still a good one: attend networking events. Meeting people and making connections is valuable regardless of whether or not they can help you get a job today. You never know if the first-year associate by the punch bowl is going to be the next Bill Gates or Sheryl Sandberg.
Finally, when you’re at a networking event or that first meeting after reaching out to someone via LinkedIn, you’ll want to have your elevator pitch ready.