When you want to break into a new industry, perhaps after doing some study or as a result of recognising your true career goals, you need to be strategic about the way that you make yourself known.

Here are a few tips to help you target your networking and to make good contacts within the industry whilst finding out about the industry from an insider's perspective.

Targeted networking

  • Join LinkedIn and set up your profile if you haven't already done so.
  • Join the professional level of LinkedIn, inexpensive and definitely worth the money for the connections it can give you.
  • Join a few groups directly related to your professional interests and start making some pertinent comments within the group so they know you are there.
  • Read the profiles or organisations that you think you might be interested in working  for (through Google or direct to specific websites) then on LinkedIn look for high level execs or HR people from these organisations and contact them directly to see if you can have a chat with them.
  • But a few business magazines and professional journals and use these for additional research, profiles etc.

Informational interviewing

  • Contact people respectfully and appropriately through LinkedIn, journals or through anyone you know (friends of friends etc) who work within the industry or companies that interest you. I emphasize "respectfully and appropriately."
  • Don't approach them with the intention of applying for a job, but rather with the attitude of asking to talk to them about the reality of their industry and their advice about getting the sort of work that you are considering. Make it very clear to them that you aren't looking for a job just seeking their expertise and opinion about breaking into the industry, so do it before you are seriously job-hunting. Don't expect to get more than 15 minutes of their time.
  • End on a really positive note and send them a note or an email to say thanks for their time.

Let me know how you go. I'd love to hear about your successes through targeted networking and informational interviewing.