Every job-seeker knows the stat: 70% of jobs are filled through networking.
But what if the job you want is hired for by people you don’t know? Does that mean you’re just out of luck 70% of the time?
While that might have been true 20 years ago, in the age of the Internet and social networks, no one is truly beyond your reach today. And, in fact, you don’t even need to be a highly extroverted mover-and-shaker to network with the right people. You just need to follow these five simple steps:
1) Import Your Address Book
While there are many tools you can use to connect with the perfect person, by far the most useful is LinkedIn. After all, it’s the only basically complete database of all the world’s professionals (400 million and counting). And so there’s a pretty darn good chance your future boss is already there, just waiting to be found.
The only catch is that, in order to find her, you’ll need to have visibility into the hidden world of connections that link the two of you. Which means you need to import your address book into LinkedIn so you can find all the connections you have in common.
2) Identify Your Ideal Contact
OK, now that your LinkedIn engine is revved up, it’s time to point it in the right direction. Which means figuring out who, exactly, you want to contact.
Let’s say that your dream job is to become a Marketing Manager at Slack. In that case, the person who controls your career destiny is most likely the Marketing Director there, since that’s one level higher – AKA the hiring manager. And so you can run an advanced LinkedIn search (Company = Slack, Title = Marketing Director) to find the exact right person.
3) Get a 2nd Degree Introduction
With an ideal contact in mind, now the fun really begins: Finding a way to get in touch with her. And while there are several different approaches, let’s start with the highest percentage shot – getting a warm intro. After all, when you have a mutual connection introduce you, it’s much harder for your dream contact to turn you down than if you just reach out cold.
To get a warm intro, see if LinkedIn lists your contact as a 2nd degree connection. If so, you’ll also see a link below the person’s name that mentions “shared connections.” Just click this link to get a list of people you know in common and then have a mutual friend make the introduction. Voila – instant social proof!
4) Get an Alumni Intro
While a mutual connection is a strong bond, don’t discount the power of a shared alma mater. Because nothing glues people together like standing together in the cold for hours tailgating before a big game… :)
So that said, even if your ideal contact didn’t graduate from your school, chances are someone else at her organization did. To find out who, check out LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool for a full list of every single alum on the site. And then just do a quick search for your dream company.
Once you find a fellow Wolverine, Trojan, or Banana Slug on the inside, grab their email address from your alumni directory and ask them if they wouldn’t mind introing you to your preferred contact.
5) Go Straight to the Source
OK, but what if your ideal contact is an elusive hermit? She’s not connected to anyone, her organization is tiny so there are no alums there, and you’re feeling stuck.
Fear not – there’s always one final option: Cut out the 2nd degree and alumni middlemen and go straight to the contact. Here’s how:
Guess her email address by going to Email Hunter and inputting her company’s domain (e.g., slack-corp.com). If the recommended format is FirstInitial.LastName, then you’ll likely find success for Jane Doe at Slack with firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the email bounces back, try other common formats (FirstName.LastName), which you can test with Email Hunter’s Verifier tool.
And if all else fails, check out which LinkedIn Groups your contact belongs to. By joining one of these groups, you’ll be able to send her a direct message on LinkedIn – the only catch is that you’ll have to wait four days after signing up to do so.
Failure Is Not an Option
So there you go: A step-by-step process to get in touch with anyone, no matter how far removed they may seem. Which means that, in a world where nearly ¾ of all jobs are going to savvy networkers, there’s no reason to ever give up on a dream job. Because the person behind that job is now just a few clicks away – and well within your reach!
PS: Want to Truly Master LinkedIn?
A former LinkedIn colleague and I just put the finishing touches on the world's only LinkedIn course created by company insiders.
So check it out if you want the techniques that have led to offers at these companies, including:
How to get recruiters to contact you
How to get referrals at any company
How to get insider info before your interview