We all know that networking is a great way to build personal and professional relationships with people and organizations you are most interested in. Not only can it lead to job opportunities, it is also a great way to build your own personal brand among those in your industry.
While networking looks a little different right now with so many of us practicing social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still make connections virtually and learn about organizations you may want to be a part of in the future. So whether you are actively looking for a new opportunity, casually in the market or just looking for some light reading as you sit and enjoy your morning coffee, join us as we share the Dunkin’ Brands Talent Acquisition team’s top tips to help you network effectively (and virtually).
1. Update your job search toolkit
You should be regularly updating your job search toolkit. This toolkit includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, and your answers to common interview questions. To keep your tools updated, routinely edit your resume and add new accomplishments that may not be on there; avoid having the bare minimum on your LinkedIn profile; practice your answers to common interview questions so, when the time comes, you are more confident and articulate.
“Not only will this prepare you for potential job interviews,” said Recruiting Manager Lori Marini, “but it will also come in handy in instances where those who you network with view your LinkedIn profile or ask for your resume directly.”
2. Expand your network
Use this time to reconnect with your former colleagues, old connections, coworkers, and family friends. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and utilize the connections you already have. Your network is a powerful tool, and it’s OK to use it to your advantage. Another great way to expand your network, and double down with some professional development, is to join virtual conferences and trainings. Share the event on your social media channels to inquire who else may be attending and follow up the conversation with key learnings and takeaways.
3. Best form of contact
What’s the best way to reach out to someone? This depends on how closely you know the person. If you’re close and comfortable enough with the person, emailing them makes it a bit more personal. If not, LinkedIn messaging is a great option to make an introduction!
4. Build your personal brand
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself and can be enriched by strategically utilizing your social media. You can engage in the virtual conversation by sharing and reposting articles that are of interest to you; joining Facebook groups that are relevant to your skillset and/or career goals; and updating your LinkedIn profile.
“I have ‘virtually met’ and learned from so many experts in my industry, simply by being part of an Employer Brand Facebook group,” said Courtney Reun, Employer Brand Manager.
5. Do your research
Research and follow the companies you are most interested in. Once identified, check your connections to see if you know anyone who works there. If so, start networking! If not, see if you can find someone who is currently in a role or department you are interested in and connect with them on LinkedIn to break the ice, learn more about the company, and make a new connection!
“I would also recommend reaching out to someone on the company’s Talent Acquisition (aka recruiting) team, as they are the organization’s frontline when it comes to identifying talent for open roles and opportunities,” said Kristen Belsito, Recruitment Specialist.
6. Virtual interviews
Sometimes networking can lead to an informational or more formal interview. Many organizations are conducting meetings virtually these days, and, according to Recruiting Manager Paula Minard, it’s important to get comfortable with video conferencing tools since we’re all utilizing virtual meeting technology like Zoom more regularly.
“Definitely make sure you are comfortable using the technology and practice ahead of time,” said Paula. “I think that sometimes people think that a video interview is more relaxed or informal but know that it is not. Come prepared and act as if that person is still right in front of you.”
When you’re preparing for a virtual interview, treat it as you would a face-to-face interview, such as dressing the part and practicing talking points. Other important actions to take ahead of the interview include finding a quiet, well-lit setting, making sure your background is not distracting, testing your video and sound, and double checking that there won’t be any unexpected cameos during your interview (just let your pet know that you’ll be an in important interview, they’ll understand).
7. Follow up
Say you get your next job because of someone you networked with. Should you follow up? Absolutely! Close the loop and thank them for their efforts. This will build upon your professional relationship, and, hopefully, you’ll be able to return the favor for someone else down the line.
“Not only will this prepare you for potential job interviews,” says Recruiting Manager Lori Marini, “but it will also come in handy in instances where those who you network with view your LinkedIn profile or ask for your resume directly.”
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