An essential characteristic of a product manager is the ability to start from scratch, repeatedly. Building your network is quite similar to that, especially when you have recently moved across the world. What are the best ways to connect with folks who could be a potential mentor or even your future employer?
This is the golden platform that could be the ticket to your dream job. But it is completely up to how you leverage it.
The first step is to set up your LinkedIn profile. The headline should define you in a nutshell and should show your intention, current job/education and skills. Add a picture of yourself and ensure that the rest of the information is updated.
Although it is a social media platform for professional networking and career development, it is very easy to come across posts that are not related to this. Following the right people and consuming the right content makes all the difference. So how do you find these people?
Finding people can be for various reasons but Linkedin’s search functionality is so robust that it is a matter of choosing the right filters. Search by the role, filter by current & past companies, industry, university.
The easiest way to get a response is from someone who shares something in common with you: could be an alumnus of your university, could have worked in the company you used to work at, could be part of a product community that you are involved with, or even a speaker at an event that you recently attended.
Connection requests with a note are always more successful. Leverage the common factor and introduce yourself, briefly mention the “why” of your request to connect but keep it short.
Dear Erin Holt,
I’m a college senior interested in working in marketing. For the last year, I’ve been following your work for Bryan & Associates, and it’s really impressed me. I particularly loved your campaign recent campaign in The Atlantic—that multimedia component was totally unexpected and really effective. If you ever have 20 or so minutes, I’d love to hear more about how you started working in the field and what skills you believe are most relevant to the profession.
Thank you so much,
Once they accept your request, message or follow up with them and start a conversation. These need not always be to get a job but simply to understand more about a space that they are working in.
In the scenario where they don’t accept your request, follow them on Linkedin. Engage with them through the content they post by commenting on your take on the topic.
The worst thing to do is to connect with them and immediately ask for a referral. Instead, understand more about the role you are eyeing and talk to them. Let them know you’re looking for opportunities at the company and why you think you are a good fit. Let the conversation flow from there. If they are convinced about your credibility, they would refer you to the position.
They are the best way to get up close and personal with an employee of a company. Dress appropriately and be ready with your elevator pitch and printouts of your resume. Learn from your university beforehand about the companies that are visiting the career fair and make a list of those that you can target. Crowds are highest at bigger companies so getting there early is important but you could find your next interesting opportunity at a smaller company so don’t skip those.
Make an impact by bringing up something unique that would leave an impression on the recruiter. With everything going virtual, managing your time and planning your sessions can help you gain the most from such a fair. Wherever available, set up 1:1 sessions to gain face time.
Most universities have a strong alumni network and would frequently organise meetups. Attend these and you could get to know an alum who is currently working at your target company. Remember that they went through the same things you are going through right now and you can learn a lot from them.
Universities have different clubs that organise various workshops and webinars where speakers from companies are invited. Attend these events, have your video switched on (if it is virtual) and ask meaningful questions that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Both these scenarios can be used as an opportunity to network. Once you have had that face time, stay in touch virtually by connecting with them on Linkedin and taking the conversation further.
The product community is a strong and close-knit one with an immense amount of insights, resources and knowledge accumulated over the years. The best way to leverage this community is by being a part of them. Become a member, interact with other members, attend events organised, share your views and collaborate.
Slack is one such amazing place to find different communities. Most of them have job boards, interview preparation resources, and you could also find a partner to do mock interviews with!
We would recommend joining The Product Folks Slack community where you get updated information about events and talk to like-minded folks. Apart from this, Lewin Lin’s slack community has brilliant resources, especially for mock interviews.
On October 20, TPF is hosting “How to Crack the Pm Internship as a Masters Student” with Murali from Nextdoor. Register here and come prepared to bombard him with questions.
Stay tuned to the next instalment in this series where we talk about the most crucial part - preparing for your interview.
The past years have seen a huge amount of growth for the product management function. Companies of all sizes are investing more into product development and product managers are becoming key stakeholders within their organizations.
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