Read Time: 4 Minutes 51 Seconds
By Mark Stangroom, Talent Acquisition Director
In the third instalment of our How to Get Hired talent series – where we offer up tips and tricks to help applicants navigate the job industry, and stand out from the crowd – we spoke to our Talent Acquisition Director, Mark Stangroom to hear his top tips for networking in a virtual world, and how to make your profile stand out to recruiters.
So, what do we mean when we say networking? Networking is the process by which individuals can meet fellow peers or industry professionals to exchange information and form business relationships. Be it a live business event or virtual seminar, networking allows individuals to make connections that could prove valuable to their career later down the road.
What is the Benefit of Networking
Networking and building business relationships allows individuals to unlock and access a variety of opportunities before they’re released to the public domain – such as job opportunities, potential business ventures or internal industry insights. Having access to such insights allows you to keep up to date with emerging trends, whilst expanding your knowledge – which increases your employability fourfold.
Networking also allows you to gain a better understanding of whether or not a company is the right ‘cultural fit’ for you. Connecting with professionals in your target workplace provides you with the opportunity to establish and understand the company culture before pursuing a career with that specific business.
With physical networking events such as career fairs, industry launches and exhibitions out of the question, how does one network in a fully virtual environment? I believe there’s two steps to success virtual networking:
- Have a Strong Online Profile
- Identify your Goals
Step 1: Have a Strong Online Profile
First up is your headshot, or profile picture. Although optional in many cases, you should always include a (professional) photo when given the opportunity. Humans are social visual beings and if we can see someone’s face, we are wired to trust and connect with that individual more than a blank or unprofessional image.
Consider the following when selecting your profile image:
- Professional Head & Shoulder Image
- Full Face on Show
- Good Lighting
- Professional Environment
- No One in either the Background or Foreground of the Image
Next up is your headline. Your headline should quickly tell the world what you do (your job title), the company you do it at, and what the company does. Depending on what your job title is, try and bulk out your headline to draw the eye and demonstrate your skill set. If you have a particularity ‘non-descriptive’ job title, try to describe what you do, rather than the name of your job. For example;
Rather than: Account Manager at Incubeta
Try: Paid Search Expert Specializing in eCommerce Clients at Digital Marketing Agency Incubeta
Finally, consider what you write in your About Section. You want it to be a quick informative read that’s short, memorable and punchy for the reader. Talk about the company that you work for, what it does, and then talk about what you do within that company (in one sentence). Such as:
- “I’m responsible for hiring the finest talent across all our brands in the UK and USA”
- “I manage campaigns across paid social channels for brands in retail and leisure”
- “I help brands reach their target audience online through PPC and paid search”
It’s also great to bulk up your portfolio with character endorsements and testimonials. Additionally if you have any articles or publications that promote your suitability and character include those within your media section (this is specific to LinkedIn). Not essential, but valuable for boosting your credibility as a valuable connection
Step 2: Identify your Goals
Once you have built a strong online presence, it’s time to identify exactly the role and career path you wish to take, and the goals you wish to achieve along the way. It’s important to start by identifying the sort of companies you want to work for within your desired industry, and build out an action plan from there. Once you’ve found a suitable company, both culturally and physically consider the following:
- Connect with Certain Employees within the Company
- Identify their Competitors
- Connect with Employees or Individuals that already do the job
- Connect with Employees or Individuals that have done the job that you are targeting
It’s important to remember that there’s just as much benefit targeting junior ‘low-hanging fruit’ employees as senior level employees. The more connections you have, the more you can advertise yourself as a suitable addition to their company.
Use the personal messaging feature to make you stand out from the crowd. Always follow up a connection request, talk, event or job application with a direct message. Identify a common ground with the person you want to connect with and then highlight this within your message, for example:
- “I read your article and found it really interesting, could you expand on this so I can better understand”
- “I see you attended the Brighton SEO event last week, which of the talks did you find particularly interesting”
- “I’m really interested in your company’s latest update regarding marketing technologies – would you be willing to discuss this in more detail with me”
There are multiple ways to connect with your target audience without coming across as over keen – remember not to be disheartened if someone doesn’t choose to connect with you or ignores your message. And don’t be afraid to double message a connection, the worst they can do is not reply.
- Enable the open-to-work feature on your LinkedIn Profile
- Have strong profiles on other channels such as Twitter (or GitHub if from a technological background) on the off chance that someone searches you
- Follow influencers in your field to keep up to date with trends
- Authenticity is key