My name is Leigh Needleman, a 2020 MBA graduate. This is my networking story about how I recently landed a new position.
After graduation, I was looking to jump into the job search. I was trying the traditional format: apply online, go through a phone interview, then wait to hear back. Occasionally, I would reach the second stage interview, but I never made it to the goal of receiving an offer. In the meantime, I was volunteering at nonprofit organizations while continuing my job search.
By 2021, I had improved my interviewing prowess and picked up some new skills. However, I had also seemingly hit a roadblock and was feeling rather depressed. My mother recognized my symptoms of gloominess, having felt similarly when she had been searching for a new position in 2017 after being laid off from a previous organization. She recommended a networking group, which she had attended in person, but which I could attend virtually online.
Step One: Networking Groups
I attended my first ever networking group (Ramsey JSWT) on a Monday morning, in early June. At this group, I met someone who invited me to join a Wednesday morning group, the Professional Service Group of Morris County, in turn, and found another Monday morning group, Professional Service Group of Central of New Jersey, as well. I learned that this was networking at its core: meeting new people, connecting with new people, and finding new groups. For an introvert, this was a difficult process to grow accustomed to, but it was a necessary challenge to overcome. From the Wednesday morning group, I met someone else who invited me to a Thursday night networking group: Bulletproof Your Career. This was the largest Zoom group that I had ever attended: about 500 to 700 people would tune in every week. As I had learned from my networking experience earlier in the week, I saved the chats of every Zoom. This process proved key for me, as it was another major opportunity to meet people and expand my network.
After the Bulletproof Zoom meeting, I created a list of names from everyone in the chat with a background in my fields of interest: marketing, digital marketing, and writing/editing. From there, I searched for everyone on this newly-created list, reaching out to them on LinkedIn. I added new people onto my LinkedIn network and scheduled about three to five calls with new people every day. And this month of networking had proven invaluable for me: I had started the month of June with 55 connections on LinkedIn, and I ended the month of June with 255 connections. It was progress in the clearest form, and it was a monumental effort that I could take pride in my achievements.
Step Two: Recruiters
Another aspect was vital for me in this process: networking with recruiters. I learned how to reach out to recruiters through the Bulletproof talks. I had heard about Creatis, a Minnesota organization, from another Bulletproof member, Becky Amble, who also lived in Minnesota and recommended them to me. Feeling emboldened by my progress over the month of June, I took the initiative and reached out to a Creatis recruiter on LinkedIn. My connection from Minnesota also recommended another recruiter from Creatis, so I now had two potential recruiters to contact on LinkedIn.
My initiative was rewarded: both recruiters connected with me. I was able to secure a phone interview with them; afterwards, they had recommended me to enter my contact information into their system, so that they could recommend me for positions that matched my background and interests. Within three days, they recommended me for a remote, digital editor contract role. I took the virtual interview on a Thursday afternoon and was told that they would make a decision on Friday.
Step Three: Interviews
At first, I was nervous and awkwardly stumbled over my elevator pitch and introduction. This wasn’t the start that I had expected or intended for myself, especially after months of practice since graduation. However, I had recovered strong and I felt a natural connection with the pair of women who interviewed me; we ended up talking for nearly an hour on that virtual interview. On Friday, I was confident that I had done my best to impress, but I was still realistically nervous about my chances. When I didn’t hear back on Friday afternoon, I was understandably disappointed. I had believed that the interview went well, and I was regretting getting my hopes up optimistically.
That weekend was July 4th. However, on Tuesday, I received an unexpected but highly welcome email: they had offered me the position!
Step Four: Job Offer
At that time, I was waiting to hear back from interviews for several positions. I had to make a careful decision now: should I accept this current offer, or should I continue to wait for the rest of the potential opportunities? In the end, I made my decision. I chose to accept the offer, and I also cancelled any upcoming interviews that were scheduled for later in the week. As it turned out, my decision was the correct choice – I never heard back from several of the pending interviews, nor did I receive any additional offers that week.
I had accepted this position and I was proud of myself for all of my hard work. My efforts had paid off: I had been offered a position, I had accepted the position, I had expanded my networking skills, and I had made valuable new connections. The month of June had proven the value of networking to me, and I will continue to utilize these networking skills in the future.
About the writer:
Leigh Needleman is an experienced marketing professional and MBA graduate with comprehensive academic credentials and diverse work experience. She has an established track record of accomplishments in both for profit and nonprofit organizations who excels in both large and small organizational settings, a proficiency in marketing and digital marketing; writing, editing, and content creation; website editing; and search engine optimization (SEO).