If you’ve let your network grow cold while happily employed, you’re not alone. Like many things (e.g., exercising, getting more sleep), we have the best intentions, but life gets busy. Since woulda, coulda, shoulda are not helpful at this stage, here are some steps you can take to build a network quickly:
- Start with who you know. You likely have more connections than you realize through 2nd level contacts. While your mind automatically jumps to specifics (e.g., “Who do I know in Pharma?“), chances are people in your inner circle (e.g., family, friends, colleagues) have 2nd level contacts they can introduce you to right now who will get you one step closer to your next job.
- Own where you are. A poorly veiled “Hey, I was just thinking of you…” followed with, “By the way, is your company hiring?” likely won’t earn you points. Admit you dropped the ball by failing to stay in touch. Apologize, sincerely ask how they are doing, and come clean about why you’re reaching out.
- Do the work for them. This is a good practice for any networking encounter. Review their social media, check out their website or blogs and learn as much about your contacts as you can before reaching out. Be prepared to clearly share your target and specifically how they can assist (e.g., warm introduction to the Hiring Manager). While a sense of urgency might be nagging at you, taking time to do this step will get you further in your interactions.
- Consider “gigs.” Short-term projects or consulting opportunities can be a faster way to gain traction since the hiring process is usually shorter and the need more immediate. Getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Once you’re there, network, show off your skills, and gain first hand access to internal openings. Bonus: You’re earning a paycheck!
- Plan for next time. It can be hard to warm up contacts a second time, so if you need a little motivation to make networking a priority once you begin your new job, remember:
- Referrals are the #1 source in hiring volume. *
- Referrals are the #1 fastest time to fill (29 days for referrals, 45 days for career sites) **
- Referrals are only 6.9% of applicants (low competition!) **
- Referrals represent 46% of all hires at top performing firms ***