You have career goals, and you’ve worked hard to develop the skills to achieve them. Now, how do you make sure the right people also know that you’re a capable individual? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you start networking.
Remember, building a network takes time, and a good time to start investing in relationships is now.
First: Define your goal.
What roles are you looking for, at what kinds of companies?
If you’re unsure about what kind of roles are relevant to your skills & interests, or don’t know what the name of the position you’re after would be, try checking out articles like this to help give you an idea of what to look for.
Second: Find leads.
Leads can help you learn more about the company or role you’re interested in. They can also connect you with others or refer you internally.
These are the people you already have a connection with. They don’t have to be really close to you, but they should recognize your name and could pick you out in a room.
Reaching out to them doesn’t have to be super formal. Sometimes just messaging them on Facebook to meet for an informational chat is enough.
Important: A warm lead doesn’t have to work at the company you’re interested in. They might also be someone who can connect you to someone at that company, or connect you with someone who could put you one step closer to achieving your goal.
A cold lead is someone who you have never interacted with before. Because of this, these messages need to be more formal. LinkedIn or email is probably your best bet to reach out to these people, as you won’t be friends on Facebook, and they may live very far away from you.
Finding a cold lead is a little more challenging than a warm one. Because they aren’t already in your network, you’re going to have to do a little digging to come up with some names, as well as how to get in touch with them. Thankfully, there are some great tools out there to help you!
- Linkedin / Alumni Tool : Linkedin is a very powerful search tool for finding people relevant to your industry or area of interest. Think Facebook for jobs. The Alumni tool allows you to find U of T grads and students who work at your companies of interest. Using that connection can get you far! More on the engineering alumni tool here.
- Meetup / Networking Events : Another great way to reach out to people is finding those with similar passions to you. Meetup.com allows like minded people to host gatherings of individuals with common interests (ie Healthtech). It’s like an “all you can network” buffet of new contacts and leads, so check it out.
- Company Websites : It’s always a good idea to dive into a company’s website or blog to see if you can find some people to talk to. These individuals are close to the source, and are the most able to connect you with the right recruiter, if they so choose. Make sure to look at the “Our Team” section on each website to find out who’s who!
- Email Address Tool : Websites like hunter.io can help you find email addresses of cold leads you want to reach out to by entering their name and company.
Remember that cold leads don’t have any kind of relationship with you. For this reason, it is expected that the response rate will be much lower than with your warm leads. Don’t let this discourage you. While the response rate is lower, there are many more cold leads out there than warm leads, so keep trying!
Third: Reach out.
While it can seem intimidating at first, emails are some of the easiest things to write if you understand what you’re trying to accomplish with them. Firstly, an email is not going to get you a job offer. It is designed to get you to the first step in an application process, or even just some 1 on 1 time with a person of interest to you.
Here are the components to consider in the email:
The Subject Line
- Don’t over think it! Communicate the purpose of your email, or the action item (i.e.: “Coffee chat about working at TopHat” or “Full-time Robotics Opportunities at Clearpath”)
- Keep it concise and put the most important parts first
- Don’t put your name (your email does that for you). But if you were referred by someone the person recognizes as important, use that network leverage point! (i.e.: “Summer Research Opportunities — Mario Baker’s student”)
- Who are you?
- Warm: Remind your reader of where you last met
- Cold: Bring up facts/news about the company you find cool/where you found them (if on a blog or article)
- If someone connected you to this lead, mention that as well!
- Why are you messaging them?
- ie.: “I’d like to discuss opportunities at… with you” “I’d like to hear more about your work in … and see if there is any value I could bring to your team”
- Your next steps: Schedule coffee, or a phone call, or a Skype meeting
- Include some time options to make it easier for leads to respond (“I’m available next week, does that work for you?”, or, “Does next Monday-Wednesday evening work for you?”
Attachments to your email and sign off
Attaching your resume isn’t something you always need to do — think back and consider the goal of the message to determine if it’s a required step for you or not. If you are attaching your resume to an email, make you’ve done the following things:
- Have the file saved as a pdf
- Include your name in the file name
- Actually remember to attach it!
A professional email signature can add a lot of legitimacy to your message, and it’s good idea to use your university email! It tells people that you are a student (people are generally more willing to help students), and that you’re affiliated with a great school.
Fourth: Keep track.
It always important to keep track of who you’re getting in touch with so you can things like how effectively your emails are or when to follow up. Often when you’re reaching out to a large number of people, it’s also good to have small notes jotted down about the person/what to do for when they reply. A great way to do this is to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. A CRM can be something as simple as an Excel file where you actively log all of this information.
The Final Ingredient
It’s important to remember that this is can be a very challenging process at first, and that it will not be something you master overnight. You will be rejected from jobs — warm and cold leads alike will be unresponsive at times. That’s okay. Every connection that you do manage to make, whether or not it results in the goal you were trying to achieve, is a valuable resource that could come in handy the next time you’re trying to do something amazing.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to how hard you hustle.
Remember that this is a process in which you will constantly be learning and improving; we are by no means pros! No matter how daunting a task this may all seem, remember that you are capable, so keep on hustling!
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