Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of working Australians have lost their jobs or been made redundant as the country fell into its first recession in almost three decades.
As of September, the Australian Bureau of Statistics
reported that the national economy had shrunk by 7% and almost one million people had fallen into unemployment because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
According to Chief economist at Bis Oxford Economics, Sarah Hunter, last month the national effective unemployment rate in Australia sat at 9.3%;
an exponential increase year-on-year of 4.5%
with the number including people who have a job but are working zero hours because they have been stood down or there is not enough work for them, and the net change in the labour force since March 2020.
Suffice to say, it’s an unprecedented challenging time to be entering the workforce, identifying new job opportunities
or looking to move into a different profession.
In addition to that, networking opportunities are limited
with some COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements making it almost impossible to attend larger scale events that could present an increased chance to connect with potential employers.
With a new world order in networking emerging, it has never been more important to find ways to build a reliable professional network and put additional energy into establishing a strong referral system
through past employers, colleagues, friends and family members.
Importance of referrals - by the numbers
According to LinkedIn,
the number one way people discover a new job is through a referral system. with more than one-third of employees referring to help their friends and 32%
doing it to help their company.
With 9 in 10 employers
saying that referrals are the best source for above average applicants, the return on investment for positioning yourself as a “go-to” job candidate cannot be undervalued.
Furthermore, the chances of a referred candidate getting fired after hiring decrease by a whopping 350%
Word of mouth “publicity” also has greater authenticity attached to it – people aren’t going to put their reputation or necks on the line to endorse job candidates who they don’t truly believe are a considerable fit for a role.
Resumes are helpful to detail educational and professional experience;
however, they don’t have the human capacity to tap into the essence of an individual and whether their personality will align with a workplace’s existing culture or integrate well with colleagues, adding to overall team cohesion.
Referrals can give future employers the chance to get a better understanding of a person beyond what’s written on paper.
For many of us, the thought of reaching out to our professional contacts and asking for a referral might seem slightly daunting and intimidating.
Some people feel uncomfortable assuming that they are worthy or in a position to be endorsed by peers, colleagues or previous employers; it’s almost human nature to not see yourself as valuable as others might.
With the COVID-19 pandemic making it challenging to put in face-to-face time with your network, it’s imperative to find other meaningful ways to make and maintain channels
that position you front of mind and one step ahead of the next person.
According to Ivan Misner, founder of business networking organisation BNI there are four common behavioural styles
that can influence your ideal networking approach and the way you feel most comfortable building a referral base.
4 common behavioral styles that influence your networking approach
slower paced, people oriented, dislikes confrontation, likes taking care of others
fast paced, people oriented, gregarious, likes being in the spotlight
slower paced, task oriented, methodical, relies on the facts and dislikes hype
fast paced, task oriented, driven, hates being wrong about anything
Misner also expresses the importance of understanding your own behavioural style (I’m a Promoter to a tee!), learning how to quickly identify behavioural styles in others and adapting your own approach to those different styles; this self-awareness can lend itself to finding greater networking success and ultimately, generating more referrals.
Essentially, the core of networking and the ability to establish a genuine referral base comes down to successfully building meaningful relationships.
Even in this pressure cooker COVID climate, which has minimised the ways in which we can connect, finding effective and efficient ways to maintain professional rapport is more than possible.
How to boost your professional referral network
1. Work on your LinkedIn profile.
With over 10 million registered users in Australia
as of January 2020, the value in creating an impactful and engaging LinkedIn profile should not be overlooked.
As the leading social platform for professionals to connect and share relevant updates and industry content, ensuring that your experience, skills and overall energy are reflected accurately can help to secure recommendations and referrals.
2. Ask for help.
No man is an island, and the job search journey can certainly benefit in being a collaborative one.
So don’t be afraid to reach out to your network
and ask if there are any introductions that can be made. Most people are happy to help, especially if they value what you bring to the table.
3. Keep in touch.
Life is busy and people are time poor so it might take a bit of extra effort on your part but keeping the dialogue open and touching base regularly with professional contacts may help to keep you front of mind.
It’s also an effective way to build trust and develop a genuine rapport with others in your industry.
4. Continue to look for opportunities.
Sitting back on your haunches and waiting for opportunities to land in your lap will rarely garner the results you’re after.
Being proactive and productive in your networking
approach, as well as identifying genuine ways to build your professional community, can only be beneficial in the long run.
Boost your networking opportunities with an online course
If you're looking to boost your networking opportunities, studying an online course
with Upskilled is a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals. By working towards a relevant qualification, you'll get the opportunity to join an online group and collaborate with other students doing the same or similar course as you.
Find out more by calling one of Upskilled's education consultants on 1300 009 924
and enquire how a course can help expand your professional network.