One thing most business professionals agree on – regardless of industry or position – is that “networking is mandatory.” Whether you are just starting out in your career, seeking to change jobs, or happy with where you are at the moment, building and maintaining a solid network is an activity you should consider a must do. And if you do it right, your network (at least the heart of it), travels with you throughout your career.
Of course, if you’re hunting for market research jobs, networking is even more critical. But you can’t really expect much action if you haven’t invested time or thought to the endeavor, or if you haven’t nurtured your network as you’ve progressed in your career. Especially when you’re job hunting or looking for something specific, it is critical to be able to clearly define what it is you want to do, and how you’re qualified to do it.
Having both of these elements – a cultivated network and a firm handle on what you want – gives you all you need to land your dream job. Check out just a few of our networking tips to bring your strategy to the top of its game.
1. Start with Your Why
When you’re job hunting, you may think that reaching out to your network should be your first step, but that’s not necessarily true. It’s hard to network and tell people what you’re looking for if you yourself are unsure. You may have a pretty good idea of what you want to do based on your current or recent past job position or role, or you may be looking for a complete change. Nonetheless, you will probably need to dig down a bit beneath your own veneer to find the answers.
The idea is to link your skills and strengths to the type of role you are targeting while giving a sense of your team and/or leadership qualities. Don’t forget to mention what type of corporate culture you desire.
Resume best practice once dictated having an objective on your market research resume. These days, the objective has been replaced with a clear one-sentence statement of what Trusted Talent calls your “search objectives” – what you are looking for, the answer to “what is your why.” Of course, if you’re having trouble you can engage a professional coach to support your efforts – or better yet, reach out to a recruiter who can guide you in this process.
2. Look to Your Industry and Professional Groups
There are many places where you can grow your network. Your current workplace, i.e, connections with fellow employees, may be the simplest place to build relationships, but industry and professional groups are an excellent place to meet new people. Not only will you gain people in your network, but you will be able to learn new skills and gain new certifications in your chosen field or profession.
The numerous marketing research networking events in our industry such as conferences put on by Quirk’s, Green Book and ESOMAR are wonderful venues to meet market research professionals from all over the world! When you go to a conference or trade show, everybody EXPECTS to be meeting and greeting. Everyone is there to do the same thing – meet new people and learn new things – so networking can happen very naturally.
At most conferences, there are also a bunch of various casual activities to connect with people outside of the sessions. Happy hours after the sessions, running clubs before the events of the day, the trade show floor during the event and various other events.
Other In-Person Events
In addition to annual conferences, many organizations including WIRe and Insights Association have member newsletters and online chat groups available, as well as local and/or regional chapters. These groups put on additional market research networking events, skill building sessions, and more. Especially when you’re just starting out, being part of an organization and pitching in is a great way to network, build your skills, AND show others what you can do.
3. Utilize LinkedIn to its Full Potential
LinkedIn is the biggest and baddest digital professional network worldwide, with 810 million members in more than 200 countries and territories, making it an essential part of anyone’s networking strategy. Not only can you submit your inquiries for listed job opportunities; you can also be assured that this is THE centralized point where recruiters are sifting through thousands of job candidates every hour, looking for just the right fit for their clients.
LinkedIn can seem overwhelmingly large, but there are many smaller groups that you can leverage to connect with others. Many professional organizations have their own groups for job listings, for connections, and for knowledge sharing. These can be extremely helpful to make more meaningful connections while also building skills.
4. Reach Out and Follow Up with Connections
Another way to connect with people is to find them online whether that’s from a LinkedIn group, as a recruiter on a job posting or in other ways and just reach out. You may also connect with people in person, and you need to ensure that you’re following back up with them.
- Keep it real – This is another human being! Part of the definition of “good networking” is that it’s done with a relatively pure intention and a modicum of respect.
- Be on time (again, whether it’s for a Zoom meeting, a telephone call, or an in-person meeting).
- Do what you say you’re going to do. If you say you’ll share a link in a follow-up email, share a link in a follow-up email.
Let’s just put it this way: If you meet someone (whether virtually or in-person), you should DO something with that connection! Following up and staying in touch to nurture your relationship is the next natural step.
5. One Final Suggestion
If you’re in job search mode, it’s really important that “what you want to do and why you’re qualified to do it” is apparent on your LinkedIn profile, just as it should be in your cover letter or email. In short, you need to give readers a concise description of why they should contact YOU.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
The basics of networking are tactical and relatively formulaic; the rules are simple. The more difficult part of networking is getting honest with yourself about what it is you really want to do.
Much has changed in the world in the past two years, and many, many people are seeking greener pastures in their professional lives. Knowing what you want and demonstrating your ability to do it is key to navigating the job market.