Why you need one and how you can act on it.
You spend ⅓ of your life at work, so choose to work somewhere you feel happy and excited about.
Do you ever think, “I would love to work for (insert dream company here)”?
But how do you do that when you’re actively looking for jobs and frantically applying to any available position because you need that next job right now? How do you work for a dream company if they aren’t hiring when you are looking?
If you need a job immediately, you may not end up with a dream position right now and that’s okay. What most people aren’t doing, is proactively networking with people from their “dream company list” when they are actively employed and only do so for a short time when they are in need of a job. If you proactively start connecting and networking with people from your dream companies, you will have a much better chance of standing out when the time comes for an open position. Have you ever been told about a position before it gets posted and you already have a strong foundation of a relationship with people from this company? I have, and it feels good.
Where to start:
Have you ever allowed yourself to think about where you’d like to work vs. applying to positions that are open when you need them? If you don’t know what your dream companies are, ask your network and friends where they work and what they love about their company. Who do you follow online who raves about their current employer and has been employed with them longer than 6 months(weeds out some of the honeymooners)? You can also go to a site like Glassdoor.com and read reviews about companies from current and former employees. Start researching companies, check out their mission and values to see if they align with you. Your list will come little by little and then you’ll move on to the next step. If you’re still struggling, go to Google and search for something like, “Companies rated best place to work.”
How to start networking with your dream companies:
You’re going to need a LinkedIn account for this next step. Search on LinkedIn for the company name, then view the People. There, you will see a list of team members and titles. You can narrow down your search by using the keyword box. You’ll be looking to connect with a few recruiters or HR team members as well as people who have a title that would be similar to what you currently do or are qualified for. Before you hit that “connect” button, read the next section about how to “add a note” and why it’s important.
What the initial message might look like:
This is where you are clicking “connect” and selecting “add a note” to say, “Hi [Name], [Company Name] is on my dream list, it looks like you’ve been in your position for X months/years, I’d love to hear more about what you’re excited about in Q2, looking forward to connecting.” Of course you can adjust it to something that feels genuine to you, but it’s most helpful if you are stating why you want to connect and bonus points if you ask an open ended question about them which can increase your chances of getting a response. You can certainly keep it at, “Hi [Name], [Company Name] is on my dream list and I’m looking forward to connecting with more team members in efforts to learn more about the company. Hope to speak soon.” Next step is to focus on liking and commenting on their feed. Genuinely engage with these people, no “love this!” or “great post.” LinkedIn is all about connection, so go a little deeper with your comments and get specific about what you find value in.
Time saving tip: Create a Google doc or Google sheet with a list of names and companies and link their LinkedIn profile so you can quickly access their profiles and engage in their content weekly. More visibility can be great for you as you continue to build relationships.
Communicating your intent:
As you grow your connections with the people from your dream companies, you will want to be clear with your intent. What position would you like to work in? How can they help you? This is a key step so your connections know to alert you when a position is becoming available and you can be ready with your resume, however, it can also help to get your foot in the door before a position is ever posted. This is especially helpful for really small startups, showing how you can provide value and be persistent, but also having self awareness to not be overbearing. When you are stating your intent you can also offer help as you see fit. How can you add value to the people you are connecting with? This way it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Be ready: Be prepared with an up-to-date resume so you are ready to go at any moment when a connection asks for your most recent resume to share with their leadership team.
If you start making effort now, you’ll see the benefits eventually. How long it takes to start talking about open positions and opportunities depends on the time you are able to dedicate to networking. It helps if you carve out time in your calendar for proactive networking. It’s one of those things where you have the best intentions to cross it off your to do list, but then it never actually gets done. I recommend actively blocking the time in your schedule for networking.
This is a time investment into yourself and you are worth it, go out there and start networking.
If you are looking for ways to prepare for future leadership roles, you'll want to check out the Future Leaders Program where you can learn the soft skills needed to stand out as a leader before you get promoted, helping you to be more prepared to step into and grow into your first leadership role.
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This article was initially published through Medium.com.