The Power of Your Network
By Nicola Huskie, Resourcing Manager at i-confidential
Your professional network has never been more important than it is now. Whether you are in the contracting or permanent employment market, the ability to tap into an unprecedented number of people, opinions, and insights is a powerful asset.
But what do we need it for?
I don’t think we can ever become complacent. We live in an unpredictable world at the moment, and who knows what challenges are around the corner? Establishing an online professional network through LinkedIn can help advance your career goals.
Whether you're looking for that next role now or in the near future, creating new relationships and revitalising old ones with former colleagues and friends will increase your chance of securing opportunities. A strong network can also be a valuable source of support if you encounter challenges in an existing role. You have the ability to ask an audience of skilled and experienced peers for advice or suggestions. And this doesn’t just reach your immediate network. It is accessible by the extended audience of your connections.
You can also join forums and groups on your topics of interest or specialism. You can find ideas, questions, or even jobs posted daily. Follow companies in your industry, or ones you have a particular interest in, and you will then be exposed to their articles and activity.
Put yourself out there!
There is now less obligation to visit job boards and send CVs to unknown sources online. Simply change your LinkedIn status, make a request, and suddenly your network is working on your behalf. You have the option to advertise clearly on your profile that you're either hiring or looking for work yourself – including to people who are not connected with you.
Therefore, if you're serious about finding a new role, I strongly suggest you exercise this option. LinkedIn also offers a more discreet way to share your openness to work that is directed at recruiters. In this case, there will be nothing obvious on your public profile page to suggest you're job hunting.
Choosing ‘The One’
Focusing on the recruiter relationship… this can be tricky. Who do you trust? Who will get back to you? Are you just another number? My advice here would be to partner with an organisation that represents the values important to you. Connecting with 50 recruiters and speaking to no-one will not benefit you. Choose a recruiter who works with the roles and companies you're interested in - it is likely they will have a recurring need in that space. Try to build the relationship so you're memorable.
When a recruiter receives a new role, their first action will be to recollect the people they have spoken to or know who can do it. Plan B is looking further afield. If you plan to connect with a recruiter or someone who could benefit you, reach out to them, tell them why you've got in touch, and invite them to a chat. Sitting back and waiting for something to happen with no guidance as to why you've connected will not bring results. Recruiters are busy juggling multiple roles, client relationships, and candidates. Make yourself stand out and partner with someone who wants to get to know you.
‘I know a guy who knows a guy…’
The key to this is recommendations and referrals. As a cyber security consultancy and employer to 150+ contractors, i-confidential places a high value on these from both our current and previous contractors. We take pride in our effort to build a reliable network of skilled practitioners, who often work with us for many years. Introductions from them to individuals or companies is a very good start.
Another important aspect of an effective network is the ability to showcase any professional recommendations on your profile. By doing so, a client can see not only your experience and background, but also references and endorsements from both peers and previous managers. Some of them might even be connected.
You never know what opportunities could arise when you build meaningful relationships with like-minded professionals, potential clients, and recruiters online. Maybe one day the CV itself will be made redundant!