April 10, 2020

5 Ways to Discover Your Network Hiding in Plain Sight

Whether you’re new to the workforce - building your network from scratch - or a well-seasoned networker, these 5 tips will help you dig for networking gems right under your nose. As you identify people you’d like to include in your network LinkedIn can help you to connect.

1. A Strong Network Is a Diverse Network.

A strong network will have people of diverse age, educational background, occupation, location etc. A diverse network gives you maximum exposure and potential access to recruiters and decision-makers. If you work in IT, connect with someone in your company who works in Marketing.

2. Get Some School Spirit!

Every month, I receive a magazine from my alma mater highlighting the achievements of various faculty, alumni, and dignitaries. Chances are these high achieving individuals have strong networks of their own and will be motivated to help you in the name of school spirit. If your university doesn’t send out a similar publication, then check the alumni page of your university’s website. Alumni are often highlighted there as well. Introduce yourself and congratulate them on their accomplishments. Even in 2020, a little flattery can go a long way.

3. Alumni, Get Your Money's Worth. You've Earned It.

Establish relationships with the individuals who work in the alumni center and/or career services center of your university. They already have relationships with many companies and it is in the best interest of the university to have all their alumni employed and maintaining - or better yet, elevating - the reputation of the university. You might as well position yourself in the front of their minds in the event that new opportunities present themselves.

Attend an alumni booster event in your city. If you’re an introvert and you’re reading this, do not panic; I have a cheat for you. Keep reading. Attending an alumni event is the gift that keeps on giving. The participants will be diverse. You all have something in common. Attendance suggests that you’re willing to help fellow alumni if you can. Remember as many names as you can and connect with them while memories are still fresh.

If you’re an introvert, here’s the cheat I promised: Identify the person who organizes these events and ask to be added to the mailing list. Even if email addresses are kept private, often pictures are taken and shared with the group including the names of the people pictured. You can contact attendees one-on-one if that’s more comfortable.

4. Reach Out to EVERY Person You've Ever Worked With.

There’s no reason not to add previous co-workers and supervisors to your network – even those who were not your favorite people. Assuming you haven't burned any bridges, you’re all adults and you all have something to offer each other.

5. Don't Forget to Check Your Phone Contacts.*

Yes, it’s true. Plenty of people still write down phone numbers, but phone numbers that people want to keep (personal and professional) are eventually added to cell phone contacts. Revisit your contacts to see if anyone has been overlooked. Remember, the more diverse your network, the better. Why not add your pool cleaner or dog walker to your network? Your pool cleaner might clean the pool of the VP of the company you want to work for.

*I wouldn’t recommend tools on LinkedIn or other social media websites that can import your entire address book as that could create unintentional privacy concerns.