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Easy Ways to Build Your Network

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by Shawn Cartwright

Easy Ways to Build Your Network

It’s “Recruiter Shawn” here!  I have been recruiting in tech in Silicon Valley for over 25 years.  The most recent 14 years have been in corporate: Yahoo and Amazon. With all the layoffs going around, it can be a scary time. I’ve seen bad years in tech (hello, 2002 and 2008) and I am here to tell you that the job market will come back. I have been getting a lot of questions from jobseekers asking “What’s one important thing I should be doing right now?”

If you have been impacted by recent layoffs, are looking to change careers, or are just in the process of building your career, one thing is for certain: you should be focusing a great deal of your time on networking. Networking is the secret sauce to the career search recipe. 85% of jobs are obtained through networking so DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. It’s really not so much a “step” as it is a process in your entire career journey from your initial job search and continuing on past retirement. 

A lot of people don’t think they can’t network.  As a recruiter I hear the phrase “ I don’t know anyone” and “I don't have time to network” often.  First, let go of the idea that networking is a scary high level single step like a job interview or an event on your calendar where you are walking around strangers, dressed to impress, handing out your resume.  Think of networking instead as more of an everyday life experience or daily process. You can and should network everywhere you can go. If you change your mindset and make minor conversation adjustments with who you already communicate with, you can shift from small talk about “nothing” to small talk with “purpose”. 

Let's start with the easy ways to build your network.

Ways to “connect”: LinkedIn and other networking platforms, e-mail, phone, social media. 

Former and current workers:  Go through your worker list. 

  • Connect with people who you know who have left the company
  • Connect with people who you know who are currently working at the company  
  • Search for people who work or used to work for the same company in the past that have the type of career that you are looking for, but your paths did not cross. Use your shared experience of having the same employer as a way to connect.
  • If your company supports gatherings like social clubs, lunch gatherings, classes, volunteer events - it's a great way to connect with members of other departments.


Alumni or current schoolmates:  Go through people you go or went to school with. 

  • Search for alumi, that have the types of careers you are looking at.  (You don't have to know them or have graduated the same year).  Most people will accept an invitation to connect from someone at any age if you attended the same school.
  • Connect with inspiring teachers, instructors, coaches, classmates, guest speakers, substitutes, school clubs or associations.  


Your social situations:  Think about who you talk to on a daily basis. Connect with them.

  • Connect with your friends and friends of friends.
  • Think about all the people you have met at social gatherings (weddings, birthdays, graduations, sporting events) Where do they  work and who do they know? Connect to them. 
  • Think about who you already do or could talk to more “purposefully” at the gym, grocery store, school, happy hour, social groups, athletic teams, coffee shops, dentist appointments, dog park, dating, restaurants, farmers markets, vacation, etc.. Think about talking to them as potential keyholders to knowledge and other connections towards a career you might not even know exists . You can network almost everywhere, however, I have to draw the line at funerals!   


These are just some of the easy ways to build your network. Building up your social community is an ongoing process that is ever changing. You never know which one of your connections will end up working at your dream company or in the role of your desired job. Remember, the more people you connect with and start to build conversations around where they work, roles they have had, passions or interests they have and you have, the better your odds of landing a job become. 

Article tips by Shawn Cartwright

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