I keep applying for jobs I know I’m qualified for, and I’m getting zero responses! What am I supposed to do?
I can’t count the number of times I hear this from someone who’s feeling frustrated with their job hunt. Often, I suggest networking as a solution, and am commonly met with excuses about why that’s no good. Most people simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of reaching out to and connecting with strangers.
This practice can be intimidating, yes, but it’s essential if you want to put your career move into action. But, it’s not one-size, fits-all. Because I work with all kinds of job searchers, I devised a networking best practices based on personality type.
Whether you identify as an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, here’s how you can connect with other professionals to get an edge.
If You’re an Introvert…Be Social on Social Media
Technology gives the option to connect with others without leaving home. A friend of mine who refers to himself as a “digital cowboy” has seen massive success running his own company based on opportunities he created by interacting with others online.
He recommends using LinkedIn to figure out who the decision-makers are and who has access to them. It always helps to look for commonalities to get the conversation started. Think: people who went to the same college as you or who follow the same people and organizations as you do.
Next, look to see if you have any shared connections or mutual friends who’d be willing to provide an introduction. If not, you may have to be brave and reach out to some people on your own. If you can push through that initial awkward feeling, you may be surprised by the response. (And if you need help with that, these templates should help.)
Reaching out to strangers has led to an interview after letting a hiring manager know that I submitted my resume for an open role, a phone screen after telling a director why I was interested in her company, and feedback after bouncing ideas and questions off of experts within my industry.
If You’re an Extrovert…Tap Into the City’s Event Circuit
Across the country, cities of all sizes are providing so many more options for people to come together and connect. Speaker series, meetup groups ranging from brunch to happy hour, panel discussions, and talks at local colleges, are just a couple of examples of ways to get out there and build your network.
Personally I like to arrive at an event right after the doors open when there are fewer people and I have a chance to try and make an immediate impression on several other attendees.
Another pro tip is to go right up to the person standing alone at the end of the bar and introduce yourself.
And don’t be afraid to chase the big fish—you know, the speakers, panelists, or special guests. After all, these people are experts in their field and typically have a wide range of contacts within their own network. I’ve connected with a number of these folks simply by shooting them an email within 48 hours after an event with feedback and a request to chat further.
The worst thing that could happen? They don’t respond or they decline your invitation to get together. On to the next event.
If You’re an Ambivert…Collect Referrals From Your Current Network
When it comes to networking, it’s not necessarily all about going out there and meeting new people or cold-emailing them—though, as an ambivert, you should be doing both those things.
You should also think beyond the standard tips. Family friends, friends of friends, and former colleagues all fall into this circle of people who could potentially help you find your dream job. And if not them, then people they know.
This, of course, requires a level of transparency. If you’ve been keeping your job hunt a secret, now’s the time to be candid in your endeavors with anyone and everyone in your network. Muse Editor-at-Large Adrian Granzella Larssen outlines exactly what to include in the email you send.
Don’t forget to be patient though—“Even if people can’t help out right away, rest assured that they’re keeping their eyes out and that you’ll be on their radar if any opportunities come their way,” Larssen explains.
As you start to gain new connections and reconnect with others, I encourage you to keep the following in mind:
Talking via email or on the phone is just fine, but aim to come together in person at some point. Face-to-face interaction can often create a quicker and more powerful bond.
In order to get the most out of a conversation, go into it with a strong idea of what this person can provide and what you’re looking to receive.
But, don’t forget to also consider what you can give. From time, resources, connections, feedback, or advice, you surely have something to add.
Don’t be all-business. Take the time to get to know your contact on a personal level.
It may be hard to tell, but even those who seem most at ease meeting new people are probably a little nervous, too. It’s perfectly fine if approaching people at a huge conference terrifies you. Begin making connections your way, and you’ll soon start to see that the more you do it, the easier it’ll become.