What is networking and how can it help me get a job?

Networking is a way to make professional connections that will ultimately help you secure a job.

Who is in my network?

Networking is about two things: developing new contacts and contacting old contacts (such as family, friends, and people you have worked with in the past) who might help you in your job search. These contacts are the people who make up your “network” and who may help you land a job. Networking also means being proactive. For example, instead of waiting for employers to advertise jobs online, networking means contacting them in a professional and courteous way to let them know that you are interested in working with them.

How do I start networking?

Not sure who is in your network? Start by listing the people you know and who you could talk to about job opportunities. Your network can include almost anyone: friends, family members, relatives, neighbours, teachers, counselors, and people you have worked with in the past. Even your dentist is a contact in your network!

There are no rules about networking, but here are some basic steps that might help:

  • Compile a list that includes the phone numbers or email addresses of everyone in your network. Start contacting them and let them know that you are looking for a job. Ask if they know if any organizations are hiring. Let them know which kinds of work you would most like to do.

  • Look up companies and organizations you want to work for. If the company has a website with a “jobs” or “employment” section, take a look if there are openings you might want to apply to. In most cases, applying to a job online means emailing or mailing your resume and, in some cases, a cover letter.

  • If you cannot locate job openings, you can try contacting the company directly. This means either their Human Resources department or the manager responsible for hiring. You can find the contact information for most businesses and organizations using a search engine like Google or through a directory website like Canada 411.

  • Email or phone them directly, and indicate your interest in applying for a job. In either case, briefly introduce yourself, express interest in their company, and outline the basic experience you have.

Here's an example of what you can say: “Hello, my name is ____________. I am calling/emailing to inquire about potential job openings with your company. I am very interested in this kind of work and would love to find out more. If you are currently hiring, I would be happy to send you my resume. If there are no openings at this time, I am still very interested in knowing when you anticipate there might be.”

How do I maintain my network?

Not everyone you reach out to will be able to help right away or point you in the right direction. But no matter what they say, thank your contact and keep their information on file. Connect to them on professional networking sites like LinkedIn and check-in every once in a while. You never know when an opportunity may come up that they may be able to help you take advantage of.

As you continue in your job search, it is very important to keep a good attitude and look for jobs that compliment what you are interested and skilled in. Getting a job is important for making money so that you can survive, but if you find work you're passionate about, you're more likely to thrive! Remember what inspires you, and keep that inspiration with you as you search for jobs. The world is your oyster!