Networking is a job searching element that many job seekers neglect, which can hurt your chances of landing an interview and offer for the position.

Networking can provide a hidden gold mine of opportunities and increases your chances for jobs you see online that you’d like to pursue. Not sure where to even begin to network effectively? Here is a list of ideas for different channels you can use for networking.

1. Existing Network

Engage with managers, colleagues, and recruiters you’ve worked within the past. Let them know you are looking for new opportunities and ask for leads, advice, and support. Never shy away from sending a quick email, text, or LinkedIn message saying, “I’m looking for a new job. Is your company hiring, or do you have any recommendations or people you could connect me to?”

Check out this infographic for key groups and platforms to engage with!

2. Recruiters

In addition to current recruiting relationships, develop 1-2 new partnerships. Find tenured recruiters who support your area and skill set. If possible, meet with them in person and leverage their knowledge of hiring trends. Communicate what you’re looking for and also ask them, “How can I get notified about jobs you’re getting?” 

3. Professional Associations

Search for professional organizations that might exist in your field or skill set. For example, there is the Project Management Institute for PMs or IIBA for BAs. Joining a professional organization has numerous benefits, in addition to networking opportunities. Other benefits include the opportunity to attend industry events, members-only access to professional development resources, and access to any of their job boards.

4. Meetup User Groups

Meetup is a website that allows users to create groups to meet people with common interests. Discover local groups and attend their events. You can explore by topic, technology, and location. Part of your job search strategy should be to identify 2-3 relevant Meetups or User Groups and attend more than one meeting a month. Some examples include Agile, Programming, Database/Business Intelligence, Women in Tech, and skills-based volunteering groups, such as Tech4Good or Operation Code specific Meetups.

5. Conferences

Find a conference or event that fits your career goal. It’s a great way to surround yourself with people in your field. You can ask a recruiter or past and current co-workers if they have recommendations here. Most associations and User Group Meetups have an annual conference they do. For example, most local .NET Groups have an annual Code Camp, SQL Server Groups have SQL Saturdays, IIBA and PMI associations have Professional Development Days, etc. Any sponsors at the conference are most likely hiring so that you can turn attending a conference into a mini job fair!

6. Job/Career Fairs

Job fairs aren’t as prevalent as they used to be and are typically focused on entry-level job seekers, but they are still worth considering. It provides an opportunity to meet companies that are hiring and establish a valuable connection. Research the list of companies attending to identify and prioritize those who hire in your skillset. Come prepared with your resume and elevator pitch telling them a little about who you are and what you do. Follow up with those you connected with to discuss why you’d like to be considered for their positions.

7. Alumni Association

Become a member of your college alumni association and meet with all types of individuals you already have an instant connection with. Identify someone in the Career Services department and inquire, “I’m looking for a new job. How could I share my resume with any companies or alum who might be hiring? Do you have any upcoming career fairs, a LinkedIn group, or other channels for identifying jobs with any of the companies who support you?”

8. Volunteer

Meet people and make a difference at the same time. You are likely to meet people with similar interests when your volunteer role relates to your target job. Use your skills for a good cause by supporting local charities and non-profits. A few great tech-focused charity initiatives include Vets2PM, Project Management Day of Service, Humanitarian Toolbox, Operation Code, and TechSoup’s NetSquared community of Tech4Good meetups and hackathons.

9. LinkedIn Groups

Try networking through groups on LinkedIn. Engage in conversations by asking questions and sharing thoughts. This allows you to collaborate with others in the group and build rapport. Your contributions can attract the attention of recruiters or hiring managers in the group. Connect with members you’ve engaged in dialogue. Let them know you’re in the job market and the types of positions you’re interested in.

10. Facebook

Similar to LinkedIn, Facebook also has groups you can join. You can also search for potential networking opportunities and events on the site. For example, there’s a DC Tech Jobs and a Tampa Tech Jobs Facebook group. Even if there’s no job posting in the group, take a couple of minutes to share that you’re looking for a new role. Here’s an example post you could share – “Is anyone hiring a Sr. Web Developer? I’m a seasoned developer with a focus on front-end technologies such as Angular and Node, and I’m looking for a new role within 20-30 minutes of downtown Richmond.”

11. City Event Calendar

Check out your local city’s website for an online event calendar to see what networking opportunities might be available. This could include job seekers workshops, training opportunities, and hiring or recruitment events. The important factor here is the listed events are already specified to your location.

12. Eventbrite

Eventbrite is an online event management site that allows you to discover local events. You can browse by category, location, and dates. Search for events such as networking socials, career expos, or skills training classes. Examples include Richmond Job Fair, Speed Networking for Business Professionals in Denver, and Bootstrap Web Development Weekend Training in Minneapolis.

Let's Go!

Now it’s up to you to get out there and meet people! Start with identifying two groups and attending one event a month. If you’re feeling a bit of anxiety, invite a friend or co-worker to attend with you. Once you find a group you enjoy and could benefit from, try to attend one of their meetings or events at least quarterly and consider taking the extra step of asking, “How can I help or contribute?”