If you want to learn more about an open job opportunity beyond what’s on the latest job board, you need to tap into your professional network. It’s that simple.
You’ll find that through your connections, those people on the inside have an insider’s knowledge about anything and everything. From requirements and skills, to availability and culture, these connections will be able to help answer the questions you should be asking. All you need to do is reach out to them and ask!
However, you need to pay attention to the level of connection you actually have to the contact. If it’s someone you know well, a first-degree connection perhaps, it is pretty simple to let them know what questions you have and see if they’re able to help. The process of reaching out to this person will naturally be easy for you. However, if you find yourself only “kind of” knowing someone, a friend of a friend you met once two years ago, you need to consider a few extra steps in order to make reaching out mutually beneficial.
Vague or non-exist connections to an insider doesn’t need to hold you back. If you want to get in with your dream company you need to reach out to them before even applying. Here’s how to effectively reach out to an insider in your network:
Assuming you’re a second or third degree connection from this person, you’ll want to find something to establish some common ground that can connect you. Do some digging to see if you went to the same alma mater, majored in the same degree — something that can bring you two together.
Be a Straight Shooter
Introduce yourself and your intentions upfront. Start it off with a line or two of background information about how the two of you are connected and your career aspirations. Then, move onto what you really need from them. Be specific with your questions, but remember you’re not asking them for the job. Let them know the specifics about the position you’re interested in (perhaps provide them with the link as they may not be aware of the exact opening), ask about their experience with the company, how they secured their employment, and if there is a more relevant contact he/she could connect you with that could fill in any gaps about the job. Be direct and polite, but not pushy with your message.d establish a friendly conversation. Then, point it out: “I noticed we both went to [school]. Did you have [professor’s name] for [class name]?”
This is just the beginning stage of building a relationship with this contact, so it’s best not to jump the gun by demanding too much from them. To make the relationship mutually beneficial offer to return the favor and reciprocate by providing assistance or knowledge they may need now or in the future. You can even start by sending relevant information their way, like an interesting article you’ve read that could be of value. This is networking 101: you must build this mutually beneficial relationship, even when you don’t need something. If your relationship with this connection becomes one-sided, it likely won’t last.
Be Polite and Follow Up
Whether the contact was or wasn’t able to help you, always send a thank you. It may seem like a small gesture, but forgetting it makes you appear unappreciative, which can be off-putting to the contact and limit your chances of interacting with them again. Additionally, stay in touch with your contact and follow up on how your search is going. Doing so is a good way to maintain your relationship and helps keep you on their radar should another position pop up.
When reaching out to an insider, you’ll want to both find out information on an opportunity and build the foundation for a long-lasting career connection. Doing this, will expand your network so that it is filled with people who know exactly what you’re looking for and happy to help you get it.
What do you think? What tips do you have about reaching out to an insider? How else can you make stronger connections with your network? Share with us!
About the Author: Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a job seeker focused platform, making the job search social, fast and easy. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.