Whether you are freelancing, working part-time, or applying to a full-time job listing, getting a job in Nigeria is hard work. Career experts advise that to grow in any chosen career path, you have to build your personal brand, seek mentorship, build a network, and leverage it. However, “leveraging your network” as it is, has proven to be a daunting task without proper guidance. In the middle of a chaotic economy with a recession in view, transitioning to a higher-paying job may be the only hope to maintain one’s current standard of living in this country. This article aims to show you how to effectively leverage your network to land a better-paying job, especially if you are a Gen Z. Knowledge gained but not put into practice is useless to the achiever, study these tips and implement them.
Tips on how to leverage your network include:
1. Show Up Online
The only way people can know who you are and what you can do is when they see you often. The world is largely influenced by the online community, so show up on social media and be seen on different platforms. Share your opinions on viral trends, but stay away from controversial topics. People typically want to hire and work with positive voices who are influential in the online space.
How do you show up online? Start that blog, write that tweet, be the host for that event and attend that webinar.
Engage with other people’s posts online, and make yours so they get an insight into how your mind works as well – be active on multiple platforms so that your presence can be felt online. The greater online visibility you have, the more people will be willing to connect with you and trust you with jobs. It is in human nature to attribute credibility to familiarity. This is one way you can leverage your network effectively.
2. Connect with People Online
Great networks are built on relationships established with worthy connections. Reach out to people doing what you admire and connect with them. Expand your network every day and spark up conversations with new people as you come across them. Get familiar and build a relationship with your network till you are more than acquaintances online, but also friends in real life. A good way to do this is to request a virtual coffee date (if they are from miles away) or ask to meet in person for a chat where possible.
Seek mentorships from those that inspire you, and build a community with those that can relate to your struggles. When you reach out to someone, find something you both have in common, and make that the basis of your connection. The most long-lasting bonds are formed over a common hobby or passion.
As you connect with people, feel free to let them know that you are open to work opportunities – don’t fake it till you make it and chase your potential helpers away. A good way to leverage your network is to ask for job updates from your connections.
3. Keep in Touch
It is important to stay connected with your network even after you may have gotten your dream job. Keep in touch with their lives, and send warm wishes on birthdays, and cheerful season greetings during festive periods. When you stay connected with your network, you go from friend to family and will be their first point of call when they come across an opportunity that may suit you. However, if you only reach out to them when you are in need, the relationship will get strained over time, and may no longer be productive.
4. Shoot your shots steadily
Part of how to leverage your network is to consistently jump on opportunities. Although it might be hard to stay positive and keep trying again after thousands of rejection emails, don’t give up. When you shoot your shots steadily, one is bound to make the basket. Stay optimistic and follow up on your emails whenever you feel ghosted. When you apply to job listings on a job search site, reach out to members of your network affiliated with the hiring company, and ask them to follow up on your behalf. If you have done your relationship-building assignment properly, they are bound to put in a good word for you.
5. Volunteer often
If you are selling a service, this will be easier for you. Volunteer to offer your service to some members of your network, and focus on delivering value. When a connection is impressed with your work, he will refer more people to you. When you reach out to connections ask how you can be of help to them, and they in turn will help you achieve your goals because they feel like they owe you. Always keep your conversations with new connections interactive and engaging – you shouldn’t deliver a pitch on your first interaction, focus on getting to know them personally and bond with them.
6. Connect Everywhere, Offline too
Building your network is not only restricted to the online space. You should also connect with people offline, your friends, colleagues in school, lecturers, coworkers, and boss at your former place of work, the list is endless. Establishing and maintaining a relationship with these people will keep them close by and very willing to help when the opportunity arises.
Ordinarily, new job opportunities may not come from your primary network, but they will be the ones to vouch for you and leave a good recommendation where possible. However, that can only happen if you are in good rapport with them. Imagine having a fallout with your former employer, and applying for a job in his friend’s company – you may be deserving of a glowing recommendation job role-wise, but because of your private conflict, he might give a damaging one just to spite you.
7. Make your Requests Properly
A great way to leverage your network is by sending cold e-mails to the ones that are your potential clients. However, make your e-mail a little warmer by organizing meet-ups and requesting to send an e-mail with your proposal to them after the hangout. Sarah assures us that this works because it is often hard to say no.
When you request a meeting, be specific about the purpose and phrase it in a way that shows that you know it is a favor if they accept. You can open your e-mail by complimenting a recent accomplishment of the person for a softer landing. That does two things; it shows that you are invested in connecting with them which is why you conducted research, and it also uplifts their mood – everyone loves to be told “well done” for their efforts.
8. Set Meetings with your Network
Reach out to the members of your network already working on your dream job, and request a meeting to learn from them. When it comes to getting into a new career (say tech for instance), there is no one-size-fits-all approach, learning from those who have attained your dream height will help you figure out your own breakthrough spark. As you reach out to these people, be humble and flexible with your request, if they do not have time for dinner, ask for a coffee date instead. When you get a “yes” to a meeting invite, take care to plan how it should go, beforehand. In these meetings, opt for a dialogue style instead of a question and answer session. You can also offer to work under them for free, for an opportunity to learn from them.
9. Cultivate a Habit of Gratitude
When you receive a positive response to your questions or meeting requests, always express gratitude for the feedback. Appreciating a connection, mentor, or prospective client for what he has done, will make him want to do more. You can also follow up a concluded meeting with an appreciation mail, highlighting what you gained from the interaction and expressing gratitude for the time spent together. Saying “thank you” might be old, but it is still as valued as gold!
Dear Job Seeker
The job market might leave you feeling discouraged and overwhelmed when you are just starting your career. However, when you have the right people in your network, the transition to your dream job will be easier. Networking in itself might feel like a daunting task if you are an introvert – a pro tip is to think of it as making friends.
Read this article for insight into the right way to send a cold e-mail. The knowledge gained will come in handy in your networking journey. I can’t wait to hear all about how you leveraged your network and landed your dream job, HubforJobs team is rooting for you!