Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

28Nov/104

Networking 101: How to market yourself to get the job you want

As my job search intensifies so do my learnings on what works and what doesn't. I'd like to share a few things that have worked so far.

1. Do what you love: It's tougher to market or sell a product you don't believe in so if you're marketing yourself love the work you do. Most importantly, people will find you if you are great at your work. It helps to surround yourself with family and friends who also share and reinforce the same beliefs. I'm deeply grateful to my family and friends for their support.

2. Face-to-Face Networking:  Events, conferences, association meetings and alumni gatherings are some ways to network in the real world.

Events and Conferences that I've attended recently: ProductCampSocal, Health 2.0 (saved $1000+ in registration fees by volunteering) and SVPMA. One that I would have loved to attend but couldn't afford was Web 2.0.

Associations I belong to: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Usability Professionals' Association, American Telemedicine Association, Silicon Valley Product Marketing Association and Girls in Tech. I try to attend as many meetings as I can as I always learn new things and meet new people. I've listed some tips on networking below:

  • Start with family and friends as emotional investments have high pay offs. In my class at business school more than 75% of students said they got a job due to family or friends.
  • Real world interactions are powerful and do not substitute online interactions.
  • It is important to stay in touch not just during the job search but at other times too as on average a person looks for a new job 4 times in his/her career.
  • Before an event or conference go prepared by learning about the companies coming to the event and the jobs being offered in that company. Select the ones that interest you so that your time at the event is used efficiently. Use some of the tools listed below to differentiate yourself from the competition (example: business card with target position that interests you).
  • Follow up with a thank you letter or a reminder. Don't forget to thank the person who helped you get in touch with your contact. If there is one thing to take-away from this post this is it.

3. Online Networking: Networking online helps you meet many more people in a specific time frame compared to networking offline and it's free. The best part is that you can target your search to groups you want to attract. Some effective ways to attract online traffic are:

- Write a blog so that people can read your thoughts. It also helps to comment on blogs (remember to add a link to your blog with the comment) in the same industry and thus redirect their traffic to your site. This gives you access to at least 200 readers/month.

- Write a column or an article for an online magazine. For example, my article will be published next month in UXMatters. This gives me access to at least 5000 viewers/month with similar interests.

- Use Twitter and LinkedIn to direct traffic to your portfolio or blog. This is very effective as approx. 20% of the traffic to my blog is from Twitter and LinkedIn. Ensure that you are adding the right people and that you have frequent updates to get the most from these social media channels. TweepSearch and Twitter Analyzer are a few Twitter tools to help you target and monitor your traffic. I always add the people I meet offline on LinkedIn. You could also use LinkedIn's  job and people search to add people to your network.

- Show up in the top 3 searches by improving your ranking on search engines (Google, Bing, etc). You can do this by getting a custom URL on LinkedIn (in Edit Profile>Public Profile>Edit) and adding targeted keywords under specialties (see mine). If you have a blog you can do a lot more. A few suggestions are add your blog to LinkedIn and write posts such that your content (words) reflect what people are looking for in your industry. Google's Webmaster tools shows you a list of keywords (left column in image) that people type into search engines to come to my site and the right column shows the most relevant keywords on my site. Thus, you would tailor your content accordingly. Add plugins such as All in One SEO Pack to your blog so that people find your blog in the top 3 search results. In my case, I have used my name as a unique keyword for my blog to ensure I come up in the first 3 search results.

In my experience the success rate of getting an interview is as follows: Online job sites (1 in 15), LinkedIn job application and follow up with a recruiter from that company or an employee at that company (1 in 10), conferences or events with recruiting booths (1 in 10), asking a friend or family who works in a company that interests you (1 in 5). My estimates may be conservative and the numbers change depending on recruiting cycles and macro economic factors.

Tools to help you: Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, follow up log (excel sheet with names of contacts to follow up with respect to positions I've applied for and I use Google Docs to share it with people in my support group-very helpful), support group (people to keep you motivated when things look bleak especially in this economy-very important), business card (I usually add the position I'm interested in - great value add and it indicates you've done your due diligence), resume, cover letter and visual resume.

All the best if you are looking for a job or plan to in the future! Feedback is appreciated.

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