< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 1

Setting a Goal

We recommend spending 5 minutes on this section.

As you get organized, it's important to have a goal in mind.

Take a few minutes to think about the new roles you're looking for and when you'll be ready to start looking for them. Is this an unusually stressful or busy time in your life? Are you juggling lots of personal and professional obligations? That's okay. You're in this for the long haul – there's no need to rush things. Whether you're ready to start your new job next month or next year – what really matters is starting the process at a time when you're ready to give it your all. So, take out a Post-It and set an intention for yourself using the below framework.

Intention Exercise

My goal is to make a shift into [enter the role/shift type] by [enter a month/day/year] here. This is my specific goal is because [enter a milestone or reason why this specific date—post bonus, post promotion, etc]. I will strive to achieve this goal by committing [x hours] a [timeframe per day, per week].

< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 2

Managing an efficient process

We recommend spending 5 minutes on this section.

Managing your time will also help manage your mental well being

Making a career pivot isn't something that happens overnight. We recommend giving yourself at least six months from the moment you start searching to actually starting a new job. Of course, there's no set schedule. You might land that job immediately – or it might take longer to work everything out. Don't worry too much if the process seems to be dragging on – remember to think of this as a learning quest, the more time you have to refine your goals, expand your resources, and develop new skills.

Here's a high level journey:

Research & Discovery Phase (3-4 weeks)
This phase you are reading, having exploratory conversations to build up your network and getting smarter about the roles and companies you are interested in.

Safe Practice Phase (2-3 weeks)
This phase you are spending time honing your interview skills by applying for roles and companies that are low on your list. You can also use this time to practice with peers (in Zeit or otherwise!) and practice your shift pitch!

Ready Interviewing Phase (2-3 months)
In this phase you will iterate your pitch and prep as you move through the interview process. This is a long phase that will go through many ups and downs. It will take persistence and self reflection, which we'll touch on in these sprints.

Negotiation Phase (2-4 weeks)
In this phase you will drive home an offer and focus on expediting conversations based on offers and where you are in the process.

< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 3

Brainstorming People

We recommend spending 20 minutes on this section.

The first step to strategic networking is building up your list of contacts.

Networks are critical in the process of making a career transition. When you are trying to break into a new role, company, or industry, knowing the right people can help you get your foot in the door. Unfortunately, lots of career pivoters assume they must not know anyone who can help them  – but we're here to show you that that's not the case. You already know more people than you think you do, and expanding your network can be surprisingly simple. In this sprint, you'll learn how to think creatively about your network, start building connections, and start strategically leveraging your contacts.

Start by writing down absolutely anyone you can think of who might help you with your job search process. This isn't the time to be selective – start thinking about mentors, co-workers, friends of friends, or even strangers who have the job you want. There's no need to limit yourself to people you know!  Be creative – look up company websites, track down LinkedIn profiles, and text your friends to see if they know anyone. Challenge yourself and aim for about 50 names.

If you're stuck, try pulling up a job description and then working backwards on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections – or potential connections – with the associated hiring manager.– or potential connections – with the associated hiring manager. Not sure how to do that on LinkedIn? Here are the steps.

Another pro tip, leverage the Zeit community! Tap your cohort, review the Zeit Member Gallery to see if anyone interesting to connect with. Also, drop a note in the #interviews channel in Slack to see if anyone has connections at some of the key places you're interested in!

Job Search Strategic Networking Template

We've provided a spreadsheet to help you keep your list of contacts organized and manageable. You can find a blank copy in your Google Drive folder labeled "How To Approach Networking" – or follow the link here. Make a copy and save it for your records. It's a handy way to keep track of the essential information for every contact – how you know them, how to get in touch with them, what they do, and more. If any of this is still confusing, we've got a video explaining it all:

Let's break it down:

< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 4

Qualifying Your Network

We recommend spending 10 minutes on this section.

With your list of connections in place, it's time to start figuring out how all of these people fit into your pivot strategy.

For every member of your network, take a few moments to think about how you can reach out to them and what kinds of support they can provide. Are you looking for an informational interview? More general coaching? An introduction to someone else at a company where you'd like to work? Come up with a few categories that make sense for you and starting assigning them to people.

Here are some categories:

Discovery - someone that can help you learn and explore a role, and introduce you to more people to have discovery conversations.

Coach/Mentor - someone who can help coach through interviews and the emotional process

Connector - someone that can help you build a network and land interviews

Future boss - someone you would love to work for and want to reach out to when feel on top of your game. Someone you have your eye on but don't know them?

Check our next chapter for some helpful templates on how to reach out to these different people in your network.

Conversation Structure Template

The key is to leave the person with a clear understanding of why you are good and how they can specifically help you in your search. Here are some ways to structure that discussion!

What do you do?
How'd you get into (role) (with specific thoughtful questions/comments demonstrating I have done in depth research about them and the company)

My goals
‍My story/background

Any advice?
Do you know anyone at [2-3 companies you are interested in]?
Anyone else I should talk to who is looking for [your desired role here]?
Are there any other people you think it would be good for me to connect with?

Great, so as a next step I will follow up with you on x,y,z
Based on our chat, I would love to help you with [maybe an intro, sending them an article, etc]

Do you know anyone at [2-3 companies you are interested in]?
Anyone else I should talk to who is looking for [your desired role here]?
Are there any other people you think it would be good for me to connect with?

< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 5

Create a Blurb

We recommend spending 20 minutes on this section.

Talking about yourself can be stressful, especially if you have to summarize your whole career for a new contact. We recommend coming up with a basic blurb that you can whip out for every new phone call or cold email.

This is a strategic, two or three sentence summary that lays out who you are and what you want. It should – succinctly! – lay out your recent career history and areas of focus, with an emphasis on your transferable skills. We've provided some templates to help you craft blurbs for a couple of different situations – reaching out to a recruiter with a cold email and asking for an introduction from a friend. This is just to help you get started – feel free to personalize the language as much as you like.

Cold Email Reach Out Template

Highlight your transferable skills. Focus on showing, not just telling recruiters why you are good for the job. How your skills are extremely applicable.

Look closely at the job description to make the connections from your experience to the role (same thing you did for your resume) and make it easy for recruiters to see the connection.

Let's break it down:

Dear {Name},

I’ve noticed that {company of interest} has been a nominee for Best {name of category} for the past five years straight. I’m interested in that level of excellence and finding out more about {department or job you are interested in}.I have {number} years of experience working with {related skill}, {related skill}, and {related skill}. I am hoping to learn about {what to learn} from some of the best in the industry, and in my research, I came across {company on interest}. Our goals and interests are so aligned, I think we’d both accomplish more if I took my research and resources to your company.I’d love for an opportunity to meet and talk further about how we may work together.

{your name}

"Please intro me" Template

When asking someone to make an introduction the key is to make dead simple!

This is where your introduction blurbs come in. The purpose of the introduction blurb is to provide a strategic, 2-3 sentence overview of YOU and your ask for your referrer to include in their note. In some cases, you may want to sell yourself a bit more in the email for someone to agree to take a meeting. Include this email below the fold! Make sure you write the blurb from the referrer's perspective so they can easily copy and paste it.

Let's break it down:

Hi {Name},

Hope all is well during these crazy times!

I am interested in learning more about {role, discipline, industry, company name, etc.}. Based off of my LinkedIn connections, it looks like you may know {name/position and hyperlink to their linkedin profile}. If so, would you feel comfortable making an introduction? No need to endorse me, I would just love a foot in the door.

Thank you in advance and I've included a blurb below to facilitate the introduction!

Thank you,
{your name}

Extended blurb example:

Ambika Nigam is the Founder of Zeit, a career path discovery platform for today’s multi-skilled generation. Zeit is a software platform that organizes the skills of today’s evolving world to help job seekers and companies better discover each other.

Ambika has been building digital products for over a decade. She was most recently Head of Growth Products at Bloomberg Media where she oversaw mobile apps, connected devices, and launched an innovation lab. Prior to Bloomberg, Ambika led the Business Design practice in IDEO New York where she developed new offerings and incubated ventures for clients on the future of work and future of media. Ambika’s work has been featured in Fast Company, Digiday, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Ambika started her career in finance and marketing. She graduated from The University of Michigan and has a Masters in Science in Communications from Columbia University.

< Sprint 3: How to Approach Networking

Step 6

How to strategically reach out

We recommend spending 30 minutes on this section

Reaching out to your network is both an art and a science. It's hard to know how to strike the right note when you're asking for a favor or sending a cold email. That's why we've simple templates for you to use in common situations – contacting recruiters, getting an introduction from a friend, reaching out to a role model, acing an informal coffee chat, and sending the perfect thank you note.

All of our templates can be found here. Take a moment to go through them and identify one or two that are most relevant to you write now. Have you been putting off getting in touch with a coworker or reconnecting with an old classmate? Now's your chance. Once you've found a template that meets your needs, fill it out. This isn't mad libs, so feel free to tweak the language to fit your individual voice. Our templates are just there to help you get started. Finally, send that email!

< Building The Perfect Pivot Resume

Next Steps

Congratulations! You've just finished your third sprint.

Congratulations! You just completed your third sprint and you're well on your way to building a strong network. But this is only the beginning. As you continue your quest, you'll find that you're continually making new contacts and adding to your list. You should be reaching out and leveraging your network at every stage of the process.

Leverage our Slack group for resume and skill building

Try pinging the officehours slack channel for connections at specific companies you're interested in, or reach out for tips and informational interviews in different industries.  Or, feel free to offer intros to companies and individuals you think people in the community could benefit from

Schedule your 1:1 coaching session