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  • 5 Steps to Making the Best Connections

    Business Connections photo from ShutterstockMost job seekers know connections are important. Especially when about 70 percent of job postings aren’t advertised, it’s all about who you know when trying to find a job.

    According to a recent survey, 92 percent of recruiters said they made a hiring decision because the candidate was a personal connection or they heard about the candidate from a trusted source.

    If you’ve been struggling with your job search, think about how you’ve used your network to find jobs. If you haven’t reached out to any of your friends, mentors, or colleagues about your job search, it could be hurting your odds at finding an opportunity.

    For job seekers who are struggling to network and land jobs, here are some tips for making the best connections:

    1. Do your research.

    The first step in any networking process is to research employers and professionals. As a job seeker, you need to find out where professionals are in your field and the best way to reach them.

    When you search for professionals, reach out to people who work for organizations you’d like to work for or are very involved in your industry. You can connect with a lot of these professionals through LinkedIn, professional organizations in your community, and even doing a simple Google search.

    2. Be where your employers are.

    After you’ve created a list of professionals and employers you’d like to network with, make your initial connection online. First, follow the professional or employer on their social media accounts. Once you’ve made a connection and have learned more about the company, you’re ready to spark meaningful conversations.

    3. Make real connections.

    Although online networking is a great opportunity, nothing beats the value of face-to-face connections.

    As you start meeting professionals online and have even exchanged a few emails, invite these new connections out for coffee. Sure, while you could probably get many of your questions answered through an email or tweet, meeting someone for coffee is much more meaningful.

    When you meet with professionals in your field, treat these meetings as the beginning of a new relationship. Even if you don’t plan on trying to find a job with their employer, any new contact you make will improve your job search. Remember, anyone could have a connection you can benefit from; you just have to put in the effort to build real relationships.

    4. Be genuine.

    Whether you’re looking for a job or not, networking should be an honest effort. Don’t seek out new connections strictly to advance your career.

    Keep in mind that, when people meet with you, they also want to gain something valuable from the relationship. Just like any relationship, you must deposit ideas and thoughts into the other person. This will help you create a much stronger and long-lasting relationship.

    5. Don’t neglect the relationship.

    After you’ve made some connections and have met up with your new contacts, it’s time to nurture those relationships. This aspect of networking is probably the most challenging part of the entire networking process.

    Maintaining your relationships doesn’t have to be time consuming, but you should put in some effort. There are a variety of things you can do to maintain your relationship and it will depend on the connection you made. Whether it’s exchanging banter over Twitter or sending a friendly email once every month or two, don’t forget to keep in touch. This is the most valuable step in making a great connection.

    Finding the best connections during your job search is easy if you know where to look. As long as you are approachable, sincere, and put in the effort needed, your connections could lead to a new job.

    What networking tips do you have for finding the best connections?

    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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