Regardless of whether you’re looking for a remote job or an office-based job, an important element of any job hunt is networking. And research shows it’s still one of the best ways to land a job.
We’re not saying you should ignore job boards completely and focus only on networking – that would be foolish because employers still advertise their current vacancies this way. And after all, you should never put all your eggs in one basket. However, don’t underestimate the power of networking when it comes to job hunting.
When you build your network you increase your chances of meeting well-connected people who can vouch for your abilities and refer you to other well-connected people, and this is how you tap into those hidden jobs – the jobs that aren’t advertised because they’re filled as a result of a referral from a trusted source.
What many people don’t realise is that networking is a life skill. It shouldn’t be something you only think about doing when you’re job hunting, or when you want something. Successful people practice networking consistently; spending an average of 15 minutes a day on building their networks. And it pays off in more ways than one.
Even when you’re not looking for a job; perhaps you’re already working remotely, networking can be a lifesaver. Having built up a solid network that you can tap into at any time, you’ll combat those feelings of isolation that many remote workers struggle with.
So, now that you know how important networking is, how can you network your way into a remote job? Here are some tips.
Start with your existing network
Identify the companies you would like to work remotely for – a good place to start is our company directory. Write your list and then skip over to LinkedIn to do some sleuthing. Try to find who the key people are within each company; such as hiring managers, or heads of departments. Then see if any of your connections currently work for, or previously worked for, any of the companies on your list. If yes, there’s a chance they might be able to introduce you to one of the decision makers.
Now, how you approach your connections is VERY important. If you simply drop them a short message on LinkedIn and say: ‘I’m interested in a job at the company you work/worked for. Do you know of any vacancies? Can you put me in touch with [name] there?’ Nine times out of ten you’ll get a response like this (if you get a response at all): ‘No sorry, I don’t know of any vacancies. All the best with the job hunt!’ And there it ends.
Instead, the best approach is to treat it like an information-gathering exercise. So instead of asking if they know of any vacancies, say something like: ‘I’m curious to know whether my current skills are in demand, or what skills I might need to develop to meet the requirements for future vacancies with xyz company. Could you do me a favour and put me in touch with [name] there?’ Phrasing your intention in this way is much more likely to give you the response you’re looking for. And when you contact the person, be sure to use the same approach – don’t lead with ‘I need a job’. Call on their knowledge and expertise and even if there are no job opportunities in the interim, you never know what might become of it. You’ve at least built a connection that could turn into a working relationship in the future.
If you don’t have any contacts who have connections with a company on your list, you could still use the same approach (the information-gathering exercise) and try contacting the decision maker directly by email. This article has some great tips on how to get a hiring manager’s email address. Your other option, is to signup for a premium account on LinkedIn which gives you the ability to email people directly without needing to know their email address.
When it comes to sending out cold emails, just be sure not to hinge your emotions on a lack of responses. People are busy so they might decide it’s simply not worth their time to respond, or they might genuinely forget. Don’t worry. Be consistent, keep track of your progress, and follow-up once if need be.
Move away from the computer screen
LinkedIn is a great place to connect and build your network, but don’t forget the old fashioned face-to-face way. Just because you’re looking for a ‘remote job’, doesn’t mean you have to network remotely. The power of networking with someone in person is unmatched. So take yourself away from the computer screen and connect with people.
Is there a formal network you might be able to join in your area? An industry association or professional community group? Participate in their activities and events, and think about contributing your time, resources and skills where appropriate. Be careful not to over-commit though.
Sporting and fitness groups are also networking opportunities. Not only are they a great way to stay healthy and active, you’ll meet people from a variety of professional backgrounds. This allows you to develop a more wide-reaching network.
And what about your friends and family? After all, in most cases they know you better than anyone and just want to see you happy. So don’t hesitate to let these connections know you’re looking for work – and not just any work, a remote job! Ask them what they see, what they know, and even who they know. Their response might surprise you as you may not have realised how many connections they have.
Another tip is to spark up conversations with strangers – obviously you need to make a call on when you think this is most appropriate – but as an example, perhaps you could start a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus. Or perhaps while you’re waiting in a long queue for lunch. Once again, you just never know where the conversation might lead – it could be one that boosts your career prospects.
Have the right networking mindset
We’ve mentioned several strategies here that you can use to grow your network. But equally important is having the right mindset towards networking.
One of the strategies we mentioned above was to go about contacting people with an information-gathering mentality; asking an employer how you can develop the right skills to help them as an organisation. Essentially you are adopting a ‘give’ versus ‘take’ mindset and this is what effective networking is all about. You need to think about your unique value and how that can help others to achieve what they want.
This opens up a reciprocal relationship; you help them and they might help you in return. We say ‘might’ because networking shouldn’t be thought of as a transaction of give and take. If you’re only helping someone for the sake of getting something back in return, then your act of giving is seen as being somewhat coercive.
Be genuine in your approach to networking, relationships and trust take time to build. When you have the right mindset it’s amazing how all of a sudden the world opens up to you; your networks almost grow organically and opportunities will start coming your way.
We hope these tips help.