We all know by now that networking is no doubt crucial in the job search process. We also know that some of the best jobs aren’t advertised. Why? Because those posts are often filled by a recommendation from a trusted colleague.
Put yourself in the place of the person looking for a job candidate. If you place an ad in the paper or online, you may get hundreds of replies – only a few of which might be a fit for the job. But to find those few, you have to wade through all the others and that can take up a lot of your time. Even when you do find a resume that looks promising, that person is still a stranger to you, and you have no idea what kind of person or worker he/she might be.
On the other hand, what if a candidate is recommended to you by a trusted friend or colleague? Right away, you are more inclined toward that person because of who recommended them. (And you don’t have to do all that tedious reading of hundreds of unsuitable resumes.)
This is also true in China, where networks are highly valued. In a culture where trust is placed at a premium, a recommendation from a colleague or friend goes a long way. If you don’t have a network in China, no worries: An internship is an excellent way to create one. At Getin2China, we regularly organize networking events to help our interns expand their professional circle outside of work.
But the great thing about networking effectively is it can also give you access to the people in other people’s networks! So, maybe you don’t know anybody in the pharmaceutical industry who can refer you for a job there, but maybe someone in your network does.
Create A Spreadsheet
Here’s a good way to invest some time in your job search. If you don’t have an active network in some recorded form, such as a database or even a spreadsheet, start putting one together. Start by listing all the people you know in all the different areas of your life: family, friends, hobby clubs, political organizations you belong to, religious communities you are affiliated with, and anything else you can think of. Now, we’re not including people you haven’t been in touch with for years, but those with whom you have some kind of relationship with.
Let People Know You’re Looking
Next, let them all know you are looking for a new job. Tell them the type of work you want to do, what industry or even a specific company if you have selected one. Ask them if they know anyone in these areas and if they would be prepared to introduce you. You may be pleasantly surprised when you get a call from someone whose uncle is the vice president of your target company!
Search Your Online Networks
Next, think about your online network. Yes, we’re talking about LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on. If you surf around in your connections or “friends” at these enormous sites, you can often find they have connections that can be helpful to you. The best way of making use of these connections is to contact them directly, preferably by phone. Tell them what you’re doing, and explain you noticed they listed a certain person or company among their connections, and that you would very much appreciate an introduction. People who use LinkedIn, for example, are usually business/career minded and will readily help you meet others in their networks.
Join Relevant Associations Or Clubs
Another very effective way to make new friends who can help you find a job in a specific industry is to visit or join associations where they hang out. Let’s say, for example, you want to get into a pharmaceutical company. Are there any pharmaceutical associations in or near your city? Look for them online and read about what kind of people are members. Trade associations often allow people to attend a certain number of meetings as guests, so you don’t necessarily have to join right away.
Then of course, you must attend a meeting. Remember though, your purpose here is to meet people in the industry – not to ask people for a job. You might, for example, meet a senior executive in the industry and chat with them at the meeting. At a suitable point in the conversation, you might tell him or her that you are interested in working in the industry, and ask if they would be willing to meet with you – perhaps over coffee – to learn more about it. If you conduct yourself professionally, show a genuine interest in the person and their advice, they could decide they like you and be willing to help. That could well mean you now have a friend in the industry who can help you land that job!
Get Out and Meet People
You won’t meet anyone sitting at home in front of the television. Get out and meet people. This means having an active social life by incorporating the above and more. It also means making an effort to meet friends of your friends. Birthday parties, dinners, potlucks, social events – these are all ways to meet a new person or two.
In China, meeting new people is easy. There are plenty of expatriates from all around the world who are eager to expand their social and professional circles, not to mention the many locals who are keen to meet internationals in the country.