Working Full-time: Expanding your Network

Applying for positions on job sites is like trying to get in through the front door, when thousands of other people are trying to do the exact same thing. This is especially true right now. Applying online can work, but your energy is better spent elsewhere.      

In this post, we’ll take a look at the top three ways you can grow your network, and how to rely on your connections to land a full-time gig. 
Three Ways to Grow your Network
 You need to invest in your network before you need it. You don’t want to wait until the day you're desperate that you start looking around. It’s never too early to start. Here's some ideas  on how to begin making new connections. 
1. Connect Others
Try connecting two people you know with each other. If a producer I know needs an animator and I'm busy, I'll connect them with someone else, and vice-versa. Or maybe someone in the community has a specific question, and another person I know has the answer. Be the person that connects others.    
2. Offer Value
Look for ways to bring value to the motion design community. You could create tutorials, post project files, share tricks, resources, or a newsletter :) I started this blog for fun, but it’s opened up a lot of cool opportunities along the way.  
3. Ask for Interviews
If there’s a specific company or industry you’re looking to pursue, ask someone with experience in that area for a quick interview / virtual coffee. The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about them, the industry, and help refine your job search. The purpose is NOT to directly ask them for a job up front. You’re just looking to learn and make a connection with this person. 

Here’s an example of something you could write:
Some rules of thumb about doing this:

- Do whatever is most convenient for them (work around their calendar and their needs).
- Write down high quality questions ahead of time before meeting up. Questions should be specific and clear.  
- Take notes!
- Make sure to follow up and stay in touch. If they've given you advice, let them know how you applied it and how it helped. The point is to not let the relationship fizzle off.  
Getting Help
Once you have a solid network of connections, you can use some of these methods to get help with finding full-time work. 
Referrals
Referrals are the obvious first thing to focus on. If you see a job posting for a company you’ve been eyeing, see if you know someone at the company that can give you a referral. This is especially important with larger companies. Most people are excited to help and refer someone they know.  
Recommendations
Alternatively, you could also ask a connection if they know someone you could talk to within the company. This could be a hiring manager, creative director, etc.

Asking for recommendations is about seeing if your network can put you in touch with the right people to start a conversation about the hiring process. It’s not just about asking someone to hire you point blank.
Advice
If you're running into roadblocks in your job search, see if someone is able to provide input or advice on your approach. Sometimes, all it takes is getting the right eyes on your portfolio or application process to help. If something isn't working, try and find out why, and what areas you can focus on improving.   
Play the Long Game
Investing in your network is about building relationships over time, and helping others. You won't always see instant results overnight, and it's not always easy. But when you focus on adding value, you'll start to see results you never thought could happen. 
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