The most effective way to find a job is by leveraging your networks. Even in this digital age of LinkedIn and recruitment apps, getting recommended to a role by someone you know still goes a long way. However, if you’re a first-time job seeker, or new to this part of the city, country, or industry, you might not know the right people, yet. Moreover, you could be staring at a bunch of business cards or contact details you got from the last networking event you attended wondering, ‘what now?’. The goal here is to make a lasting impression on someone who can help you to find a job. There are of course many ways to go about it. Here are 3 simple tried and tested ways on how to build meaningful networks as a job seeker.

Get involved

Find out about the recruitment fairs, networking events, and industry-specific gatherings around you, and take part. Sign up for job hunting platforms, apps, newsletters, and mailing lists. Attend career services programs, workshops, or talks offered by your university, city, or other organizations. Be a part of projects, volunteering opportunities, and internships that come your way. Remember showing up is the first move. And that’s 100% on you.

Now take it a step further. Participation is only the first step. Next is to show genuine interest and to put in the work. Optimize and customize your job applications according to the tips and tricks you learn. Get to know the mentors, speakers, and experts, and ask to connect with them. When possible, offer to take on leadership roles and more responsibility. Let your work speak for itself. Make sure you’re standing out for the right reasons. We all want to hang out with people who are motivated, hardworking, and ambitious, with good vibes. Be that person.

Get an introduction

Take a closer look at the people you already know – friends, family, neighbours, teachers, colleagues, etc,. Now dive deeper into people they might know. One way is to browse through their LinkedIn connections. Or mutual friends on facebook and other social media platforms. If you find someone who’s a recruiter, works for a company you’re interested in or is doing a job that you’d like to do some day, ask your connection to introduce you. Alternatively, you can reach out to the people you know, explain your predicament and ask them to connect you with people who they see as relevant to your job hunting journey. You could of course randomly reach out to strangers with interesting profiles on your own. However, they are more likely to respond to you if the connection was made first by a mutual contact.

Get some face-to-face time

Face-to-face time does not necessarily mean meeting someone in person. After the year we had, I know better than to suggest tips that compromise social distancing. Rather this means finding an opportunity to get to know a contact at a deeper level. Once you’ve established an initial connection, invite them for lunch or a coffee, which could also be virtual. Ask them about their work, company or expert area. While being honest about your job hunting intentions, don’t make it all about you. People enjoy sharing their stories. So try to listen. On the other hand, you can ask the contact if you could share your portfolio or CV with them and get some feedback. Usually people are willing to help someone who shows genuine interest and potential. Remember to stay in touch, celebrate their successes, comment and react to their posts, and follow through. All while riding that fine line between staying connected and stalking, of course.

For more information on how to connect with people and build meaningful connections read the Guide to Startup Job Hunting.