Nobody thinks of an introduction as being the first step in a job search, but it is. Whenever you meet someone new, you have the opportunity to expand the network of people who are looking for your next job. But introducing yourself as “jobless” is almost as embarrassing as introducing yourself as “homeless”–so of course people neglect this powerful networking opportunity and job search technique.
Reintroduce the introduction as your go-to job search technique.
Job search tip #1: Expand your job search network. Learn how to introduce yourself to new and different people. Set your goal to practice the introduction and also to meet people within your field.
But, it’s still uncomfortable, right? Try to introduce yourself by name only followed by a quick question about the person you are talking to. “Oh, Joe, you work at XYZ, do you like your job?” Once you talk to them for a few minutes they will normally ask what you do. Here’s where you practice the hard part. Practice saying, “I’m looking for work right now.” You can either continue talking about you, or shift back to talking about their career. I suggest that you talk about them. Continue your introduction by introducing them.
Tip #2: Introduce them to you, instead of introducing you to them. It’s uncomfortable to talk about you, so talk about them first and allow the bits an pieces about you come out second. Remember your goal right now is not landing a job, but expanding who you know.
If you get a chance talk about the challenges in their industry to demonstrate how much you listened and insight you can provide. You are building trust with a new contact.
Tip #3: Prove who you are, instead of saying who you are. The more you can talk intelligently with this new contact, the more you prove your mettle and increase trust with this contact. It’s networking, done effectively and comfortably. Your job search benefits from an impressed contact.
Tip #4: Allow the relationship to grow naturally. For this job search technique to be effective, the relationship needs to grow. Relationships take time. So ask the person for a business card, or ask if you can link to them on LinkedIn. A few days from now you will recommend them on LinkedIn. That will remind them of you and cause them to keep you in mind for opportunities when they present.
Introductions should never be high pressure. Not even in job searches should introductions be forced or moved faster than the level of trust that underlies the relationship. Done correctly, in a low pressure environment, an introduction can be easy and an important job search technique. After all, it’s not just what you know but who you know that lands you the job.