One of the major changes in the past few years for searching talent, is that companies are increasing the number of referral hiring. I think this is a great trend, as this gives more options for people who are considering changing jobs.
On the other hand, some negative aspects of this trend is the difficulty in negotiating details of the offer as well as admitting to mis-hire after hiring.
That being said, I think it is a great idea to have a great network outside your company. Let me briefly summarize some tips to expand your personal connections and explain how important they are.
■Become a person of value that people want to connect with
If you want to expand your network, the important point is whether you are able to offer value to the person you are trying to connect with.
If the person finds no value in connecting with you, your relationship would be merely superficial, like just exchanging business cards.
For instance, if you are a specialist in the e-commerce (“EC”) sector, people who have no prior knowledge of the EC industry may find merit in connecting with you.
In this case, some ways to expand your network are,
【1】connect with people based on your expertise in your field.
On the other hand, if you only have two or three years of experience in the industry, there will be a lot of people who have had more experience in the same industry.
In that case,
【2】organizing your own cross-industry social event to gather people from different fields will allow you to become a hub and connect people.
However, if this is difficult for you, there is another way which many people overlook, and that is to
【3】find a party organizer who is already holding social events and to reach out to offer help.
I am an event organizer for an invitation-only social event that reaches 700 people.
If I could have some people who can help me with things like reception and accounting for the event, it would help me a lot.
■Have a community where you are the center of the gathering
The most important thing is to be right in the center of the gathering.
There is nothing wrong with being invited to an event or a gathering, but I personally think that it is important to be a leader of at least one event to build connections.
I was originally the type of person who did not want to join social gatherings because I was invited, as I thought people may wonder who I am, and I would end up feeling really vulnerable thus wanting to go home early.
I have always wondered how comfortable I would be if people knew about me from the beginning.
At that time, I realized that I should be the one to organize events as everyone knows the event organizer.
If you are a shy person, it might be good to be a party organizer and become the central member of the gathering.
■Create a gathering where new relationships are created naturally
I am currently a promoter and event organizer of a social event with a little over 700 businesspersons and one of several event organizers of a Dokikai with 500 people.
I started to hold these social events because I genuinely wanted to, and I did not have a secret agenda for expanding my network for business purposes.
However, since everyone who comes to the event knows that I am the organizer and what kind of work I do, I do come across opportunities where participants connect me to executives and HR professionals who have challenges with mid-career recruiting, and some people consult with me discretely about changing jobs. I am not good at holding events solely for sales purposes, so I feel most comfortable networking with people organically and help others as the need arises.
■What you can achieve from connections outside of your company
Having a connection outside the company also gives you an objective understanding of where you stand in the market, and this may give you encouragement.
For example, you may find that what you perceived to be negative about your company was actually better than others companies, or that you thought your experience was not a big deal, only to find that it was evaluated highly by others.
In addition, when you are exposed to people in different fields, you will notice and find out a lot of things.
If you are a salesperson, you may be able to find how other sales representatives sell their products or services, and what kind of people are performing brilliantly at other companies. If you are an engineer, you may be able to learn what development methods other engineers are adopting and challenging, and where they obtain and check technical information from overseas.
If you are a marketing professional, you may be able to find out how other marketing people set KGIs and KPIs for a combined strategy for digital and analog marketing. If you are engaging in a new business, you may get some hints to start a new business from other participants.
If you are looking for a business partner, you may find that this event will open up opportunities. From my event, three members became speakers at a marketing event.
An architectural designer and a lighting designer met during this event and put up a booth to display their work at an exhibition.
Recently, there has been an increase in online social gatherings due to Covid-19.
People around me attend online study sessions via platforms such as Zoom and interact with each other.
Sometimes they directly send a message via Facebook to an attendee from a list of participants and ask, "Were you one of the participants from the study session today?
I am sending this message hoping to exchange some information as we both work at a company in a rather similar industry”. Since you are an online participant, most people are comfortable communicating online.
Rather than focusing on building a network within the company, change jobs, and go on to work at several companies in your career, it would be better to stay at a company while building an extensive network outside the company with people who have different job functions and who work in different industries.
It would be more valuable if you have 10 people that you can sometimes go out for a meal or a drink and exchange in-depth information.
I encourage you to take the first step and visit various events in order to increase your network outside the company.