What can networking do for you?
- Lead to information on job openings not yet advertised
- Lead to an inside connection at a company
- Provide you with insights into an industry or profession
- Help you get advice on your job search methods
Networking is an important part of your job-search. Approximately 75 to 95 percent of job openings are not advertised in sources such as the newspaper or Internet. You can find out about these “hidden” jobs only by talking to other people or networking.
Networking includes everything from a casual conversation with a friend to an informational interview with a potential employer.
Networking doesn’t mean asking everyone you run into for a job. It means building relationships so that you can comfortably ask for ideas, advice, and referrals to those with hiring power.
This guide takes you through the steps of building a network and how to make your network help you with your job search.
More information on networking:
Who is in Your Network?
Start with people you know
Your network is probably already bigger than you think. It includes your family, friends, and even casual acquaintances.
Make a list of people you know including:
- family members
- former employers and co-workers
- members of clubs or community organizations you belong to
- teachers and coaches
Also think about people you’ve met through your close connections: your sister’s co-worker; your best friend’s boss. Don’t forget to include people like your doctor, accountant, or yoga instructor.
The following tools can help you identify your network:
Growing your network
You can expand your network in a number of ways. Some useful approaches include:
Joining a professional association is a great way to meet people in your field of interest. You can attend professional development seminars, tradeshows and information events.
Information on local professional associations can be found at:
- Associations Canada
Available at VPL Central Branch, 060 A84
Volunteering for a charity, community organization or professional group is a good way to meet potential business and employment contacts. Volunteering is also often recognized as valuable work-related experience by employers.
Volunteer opportunities can be found at:
Job Search Programs
Job clubs can bring together people who are going through the same experiences you are when looking for work. Job clubs are a great way to network and can be very effective in your job search.
Job search programs in Metro Vancouver can be found at:
More information on growing your network:
- Career Cruising
Look under “Employment”: Work Search – Networking Strategies
Available from the VPL Digital Library | Explore our Digital Library page
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database.
Preparing your Networking “Toolkit”
Networking Business Cards
Networking business cards have the look of a traditional business card. They provide your career and contact information to people you meet in social and professional situations.
Your networking business card can include:
- Career focus
- Contact information: telephone number, email, website
- Summary of skills, qualifications, experience and background (on either the front or reverse of the card)
Sample networking card:
From: Career Cruising database
More information on creating business cards available at:
- Career Cruising
Look under “Employment” – Work Search: Creating a Calling Card.
An elevator speech is a brief introduction you can state in the time it takes to share an elevator ride with someone new. It’s a very short summary of who you are, what you do, and even what you’re looking for.
While there is no exact formula, the point is to be memorable in a positive way.
Further details on how to create and deliver an elevator speech available at:
Types of Networking
Informal Networking uses your existing network of friends, family, neighbours and other acquaintances to help develop employment opportunities. It may involve a casual conversation at a social event or an everyday encounter with a friend.
During your job search, you may want to direct your conversations by asking questions and listening for useful information about potential employment opportunities.
Keep your conversations casual and don’t feel pressured to turn everything into a job pitch. If someone looks like they might be a good contact to pursue further, ask how you can keep in touch.
An informational interview is a brief meeting with someone who is employed in your field, position or organization of interest. Informational interviews may help you:
- Get a personal perspective on occupations and organizations of interest
- Obtain advice and information that may help you target your job search efforts
- Practise interviewing and networking skills
- Hear about opportunities before they are posted
- Broaden your network
An informational interview is about information and advice. It is not about calling someone up and asking them for a job.
Although not all requests for information interviews are successful, many people respond very positively to the initiative and courage it takes to ask for an information interview.
More advice on getting and preparing for informational interviews:
Cold calling involves contacting organizations of interest and attempting to meet with the person who has the decision-making power to hire you. A cold call is a telephone call to someone you do not know, even though the employer has not advertised a job opening.
Cold-calling prospective employers can seem scary, but career experts say it can be a powerful tool.
Some people prefer to make initial contact by sending a letter of introduction first (also known as broadcast letter), followed by a telephone call.
How to Prepare for and Make a Cold Call
- Prepare a list of companies to contact through company research.
(Tip: Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library has a great collection of Company Directories which are a good source of company information)
- Find out the name of the hiring manager by making a preliminary phone call to the company to obtain this information
- Have an outline of key points you want to discuss with an employer before you make your call
- Have a copy of your resume and any information about the company that you are contacting in front of you
- Always state your name and the purpose of your call
- Keep the calls brief – less than 3 minutes is best
- Tell the potential employer about your qualifications first, this way you are giving them something that they can value
- If the manager seems interested, ask if you can meet to discuss possibilities in more detail.
- If the manager can’t meet with you, ask if you can send in your resume.
- Whatever happens, thank your contact. Send a thank-you note and re-state your interest in working for his/her organization.
- Keep the information on your contact and his/her organization. You never know when you might need it again.
- If you get turned down, do not take it as a personal rejection
Further advice on cold calling:
Online Social Networking
Social networking websites are valuable tools that can help you increase the number of professionals you meet and connect with. Some of these tools include:
For more information on social networking see the separate guide:
Still looking for more information? Try looking at the following resources:
- Networking for People who Hate Networking: a Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected / Devora Zack. 2010. Central Library, 650.13 Z16n
- Friend of a Friend: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform your Life and your Career / David Burkus. 2018. Central Library, 650.13 S97n
- Knock ‘em Dead Social Networking / Martin John Yate. 2014. Central Library, 650.13 Y31k
- Key Career Networking Resources for Job Seekers. Quintessential Careers