how-to-get-a-job-without-connectionsNetworking is probably the number one way to get yourself a job if you are looking. Referrals account for nearly 40% of all hires—and referred employees often get jobs quicker and make more money out of the gate. But what if you don’t have anyone to refer you to a particular company or within a particular industry? If this is the case, then you’ll need to figure out how to get a job without connections. Luckily, we’ve got the right information to accomplish that.

Here are 4 steps to follow to help you get a referral even if you lack the relevant connections.

1. Find an Influencer

Once you’ve determined there’s a job opening somewhere, find someone who has influence on the hiring process for that position. Search for the position you want and the company you want in a site like LinkedIn until you find your Influencer.

2. Make contact

Find the contact information for that person and get in touch to set up a time to chat. This is just normal networking, remember? Easy! Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Address the new contact by name, briefly explain that you’re interested in working in their company, but ask only for advice. Throw in some modest, subtle flattery to sweeten them up, and politely request a quick coffee (your treat) to pick their brain. You can use “Quick question” as your subject line.

If you don’t get a reply, don’t badger them—and don’t worry! Just find yourself another influencer in the same company—or for a different job entirely, and try again. If or when you do get a meeting, make sure to do plenty of homework first. That means researching the company, the field, the contact, etc.

3. Prep your question

The absolute most important question you need to ask is this: “What is the biggest challenge your team is facing right now?” That question will make all the difference between awkward small talk and giving your new contact the opportunity to open up and talk about something that matters to them—and something that will be extremely informative and helpful to you. Dig in. Listen hard. And send a thoughtful thank you note.

4. Strategize your solution

You’ve heard from your Influencer (and new contact) what their biggest challenge is. Now figure out their solution. Reach out, research, think inside and outside the box. Put yourself in their team’s shoes and consider things from every conceivable angle. Once you’ve got a great idea, make sure to test it through all the possible hypotheticals you can come up with. Then craft a detailed and elegant proposal.

You’re going to send this proposal to your Influencer. Start a casual email, with an extra thank you for the coffee date, then say that you’ve been thinking about the conversation and mulling through their situation and then BAM. Explain that you’ve come up with a proposal to help solve their problem. It’s gutsy, of course, but if your idea is good—even if it isn’t perfect—it will show your value, and your Influencer will most likely share it with their team.

If any or all of this goes your way, you’ll probably be able to follow up by inquiring about any open opportunities on this person’s team (knowing already, of course, that there is one). Best case scenario: Instant referral! Worst case scenario: you’ve netted yourself a new contact or two.