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A Personal Networking Story: Go Beyond the Job Posting and Reach Out

A Personal Networking Story: Go Beyond the Job Posting and Reach Out

If you have followed my work for any amount of time – e.g., read my posts, attended my webinars, coached with me – you know that I am a fierce proponent of networking. I also walk my talk, and now I can report firsthand that it does pay off.

I have lots of examples in my own business development of how networking pays off for me and SixFigureStart, but I have an even more personal story involving my daughter, who recently graduated from college and is job searching during the pandemic. Yes, networking can help your job search – even if you think you don’t know a lot of people, even if it’s an entry-level job.

Upon researching a job opening in LinkedIn, my daughter noticed that the recruiter tied to the posting was a second-degree connection of mine. (Lesson 1: Don’t just take a posting at face value. Do additional research on it!)

She asked if I would be willing to broker an introduction. (Lesson 2: Get a warm referral to someone if you can. Even a newbie to the job market like my daughter has connections to start with – e.g., family and friends. Don’t be afraid to tap those connections.)

[Related: How Women Can Create Networks for Success]

I looked up the shared connection, and unfortunately, I didn’t know her well – we last connected professionally almost five years ago, and we didn’t keep up socially. However, I did see from our past interaction that I had given her some strong candidate referrals. (Lesson 3: Save your e-mails in a searchable database so you can refresh your memory on how you know someone. Lesson 4: Always return recruiter phone calls, even if it’s not going to help you directly.)

In the ideal world, I would have rekindled my connection to this recruiter first and then asked for help for my daughter. However, there wasn’t much time. Once a job is posted, you want to apply ASAP. In addition, since this connection was a recruiter, I felt she would be understanding of me jumping in to talk shop right away, rather than doing a warm-up social interaction first. (Lesson 5: Time is of the essence, so sometimes you have to be more forward. Take a chance!)

I did include our last e-mail thread with my latest inquiry so this recruiter could see instantly how we knew each other. It was also apparent that I had helped her in the past. (Lesson 6: Always find a way to highlight the value you could bring to your connections.)

I wrote a very short e-mail explaining that my daughter was interested in a role advertised by her firm, and I highlighted three specific reasons why she was well-qualified. (Lesson 7: Don’t just ask for a favor, but make it of equal or better value as much as you can. In this case, I was asking for a personal favor for my daughter, but placing my daughter could also mean a fee for their firm.)

I asked very specifically for this recruiter to pass on my daughter’s resume to the active recruiter on the search. (Lesson 8: If you’re going to ask for something, be clear about it.)

[Related: Give Grace During the Time of COVID-19]

I ended the e-mail with, “Thanks for considering.” By adding the word “considering,” I softened my request. I let the recruiter know that I recognized that she could pass it on OR NOT. There was no obligation – the request was in her hands. (Lesson 9: You want to be assertive, but not presumptuous.)

My daughter got a call from the active recruiter within 24 hours and called me immediately after the interview to thank me. (Lesson 10: Thank everyone who helps your search, even family who should be helpful anyway.)

Networking works. But it’s never perfect. As soon as my daughter told me about the interview, I should have e-mailed that recruiter to thank her. Instead, I waited a few hours, and she got back to me first (to let me know that she passed on the info). I wish I had been the first to acknowledge her help -- I will be faster in my "thank you"s the next time. One can always improve!

Postscript and bonus networking tip: My daughter got far into the interview process but didn't get an offer -- initially. I told my daughter to keep in touch with the recruiter because sometimes the hiring company has additional needs or makes a bad hire and reopens the search. As it turned out, the hiring company did have additional needs, and by staying on top of the process, my daughter was first in line in the new interview process and got the job!

[Related: Career Recovery: Be Resilient After a COVID-19 Job Loss]


Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a longtime recruiter turned career coach and co-founder of SixFigureStart. She specializes in career change -- helping people make a great living doing work they love. Get a free checklist of career minefields to avoid: 25 Career Mistakes Even Smart Professionals Make.

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