Network With Peers, Not Just Recruiters

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You probably hear about networking all the time. Why it’s important, how to do it, when to do it, etc. Many job seekers get it in their heads that the most important part about networking is to form relationships with employers and recruiters — that way, you open yourself up for the opportunity to land a job. But recruiters aren’t the only people you should target.

Another really valuable idea to keep in mind when networking is to connect with your peers. Your peers can be anyone at a similar place to you in their careers, whether you work with them or not. You can gain so much from networking with someone who currently works in your ideal job or company.

Build your peer network.

Start to build your peer network by searching for people with your job title (or desired job title) on social media. LinkedIn is probably your best resource for this tactic. Narrow your search to a specific company or city to make the most valuable relationships.

Once you’ve found some potential candidates, follow them on Twitter and request to add them on LinkedIn. But don’t just connect with anyone blindly. Whenever you are networking, whether it’s with recruiters or peers, it is essential to introduce yourself right away. Even if you’ve met the person once, you need to explain who you are, how you found them, and why you’re reaching out.

Start a conversation.

When speaking with peers, you’re obviously not going to be asking them for a job interview or anything like it. Instead, you should use the relationships as learning opportunities. You can explain that your reason for connecting is you’d like to learn more about their job or their role in the company.

After you’ve started a conversation, you have the opportunity to ask them any details you can think of about their job. Ask about their experiences during the hiring process, what they do on a weekly basis, what are their favorite and least favorite things about the company, and anything else you want to know. Often, your peers will be more than happy to help you with this kind of information, and you can learn so much from someone who has recently been through an experience you’re currently facing.

It works in the real world.

Still not convinced if peer networking is worth it? I can personally attest to the benefits. When I was looking into internships with a specific company, I decided to take the peer networking approach in addition to connecting with recruiters. I sent LinkedIn requests to a number of people who were currently in the roles I wanted. While not everyone responded, there were a couple relationships that proved to be extremely valuable.

One intern responded pretty much immediately and we began a great conversation. I asked her about the hiring process, what questions they asked in her interviews, how her role differed from similar internships, and many more questions. She answered all of my questions with very detailed and informative responses.

Her insight really paid off during the interview process. I knew exactly what to expect and came prepared with talking points for most of the questions I was asked. Such a great interview would never have been possible without the help of my peer.

If you put some real effort into peer networking, it could pay off in ways you’ve never considered. In fact, if you manage to maintain those peer relationships, you might surprise yourself with a long-lasting relationship. So don’t just aim to network with people who could hire you. Network with your peers, too!

Have you formed a beneficial relationship with a peer before? How did it help you?

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