How do I start networking into a job?

Maybe I convinced you in Why should I network into a job? that talking to people about a job is better than sending an application blindly into the abyss that is an online job posting. Well, it’s not that bad, right? Well, we learned in that last blog post that 2% of applicants get an interview. I suppose it could be worse, like 1%. Or 0%. Ugh.

Okay, you’re convinced, you’re here, you’re reading, and you want to know, how do you do it?

Where to start?

There are a lot of places to start your job search, but they all boil down to a few general categories. 

  1. Promising job postings in your field/industry/location/etc.
  2. Dream companies or companies about which you’ve heard great things
  3. Connections that you made at college, conferences, or previous jobs

When you do identify opportunities from any of these categories, make sure you record it somewhere so you can “work” that opportunity, sort of like how a salesperson works a lead. A tool like Stint can help record opportunities like this, track your progress, and help plan future actions.

When to start networking?

Now you have a list of opportunities that you’ve found through either job postings, research into awesome companies, or people in your network. Now is time to start writing cover letters, customizing that résumé, and shooting out dozens of applications, right?! Nope. 

The next step is to find the right people to talk to, connect with, and get information from, all with the goals to: 

(1) determine if this opportunity is right for you and your motivations, and if so,

(2) to get information and make connections that will help you get the job.

How to start networking?

LinkedIn is usually the best place to start. For example, if you are targeting DoorDash as one of the companies for your next job, of course start by checking if you’re connected with anyone at DoorDash. If not, see if you have any connections that can introduce you to someone at DoorDash. If you do not have any connections or second connections, start inviting people at your target company to connect with you. Don’t just send invitations to anyone. Try to find someone from your alma mater or one of your previous companies so you have a mutual interest. Try to connect with people relevant to your role as well. For example, if you’re a software engineer, try to connect with someone in the engineering organization at the company.

Depending on your industry and the types of jobs you’re looking for, there are other places where you can find people to chat with about their company. Sometimes, you will find someone on LinkedIn, but after checking their activity, you will see that they haven’t been active in years, and reaching out through that medium would be a waste of time. Alternatives include sending a direct message to people on Twitter, sending someone a direct email using a tool like hunter.io to determine the person’s company email structure, posting in a Slack channel, using an online community like Reddit, or even using the messaging app Discord which is popular among gaming communities. 

Regardless of your method, the key is to find someone at your target company before you apply. Sometimes you will have to send out over a dozen invitations or messages before someone accepts, but someone will, and when they do, it’s time to ask them to chat. It’s a great tactic to utilize the “Ben Franklin Effect” here. (Ben Franklin said, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.") Ask them if they would mind chatting with you, and mention that you would like to learn from them. Keep it short and sweet. Wait a few days and follow up as many times as you feel comfortable doing. Make sure to follow up at least once! No one likes a quitter, but no likes a stalker either. Here is a quick example of a message I sent to someone back when I was looking for work and trying to learn more about a company:

Hello Sean,

Thanks for connecting!

May I chat with you for a few minutes about your PM experience in SMB credit and crypto investing? 
I am trying to learn more to become a better PM, and I'm also curious about how to transition from traditional fintech product management to crypto-related product management. Hearing your perspective would be very helpful.

That's it!

We often overcomplicate things in the digital age, and the job search is one of those things. There are always other things you can do to become more efficient or marginally improve your chances. But if you took nothing else from this blog post, the TL;DR is that you should try to reach out to someone at your target company before you apply.

What's next? You reached out to someone for chat, and they said yes! Now what? See our next blog post for more.

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