Networking in (mostly Continental) Europe, an experience
I'm doing this primarily because most networking threads are US based, but there are enough users and lurkers that could be interested in how it works in Europe. I say mostly mainland because despite the fact I had chats with UK based professionals, the vast majority of those I contacted and spoke to are not UK based.
Email, cold-call or social media?
- I contacted people exclusively via LinkedIn or email. In the second case I would simply figure out the corporate email format. There are ups and downs in both cases. Most people don't check their LinkedIn profile that often, so email had a higher response rate for me. However, some find the email way creepy, thus there's no really safe answer. My advice is to mix it up, it doesn't matter that much. Whenever I had a call, I would use Whatsapp to save money.
How many people did I contact?
- I contacted more than 120 people. The call that eventually would earn me the offer was actually among the first 30. Overkill? Not really. It took months of recruitment and interviews before I got that offer, until you have it, you MUST keep searching and talking to people. My response ratio was between 1/3 and 1/4. As I already mentioned however, not everyone was happy, so what resulted in a good chat was probably 15-20%. These are the ones willing to pass my CV to HR or tell me about opportunities. I'm saying this because this is a numbers game. For the most part, it'll be failures. It doesn't matter. You'll make 100 attempts, one wins you the job, what matters in the end? The 99 rejections or the 1 success? I also try to keep in touch with all of those who were nice enough to give me a call, even if it didn't earn me a job. They helped.
What did I research?
I did extensive use of WSO threads before starting. You want to read 1) the generic networking tips, including making your excel file to keep track and 2) the ones specific about the industry you are trying to get into. Yes, it's a numbers game but you always want to increase your possibilities of success. You want to know the basics of the industry, you need a good story of why you want to join and at least 10 decent questions to build a conversation. If your conversation lasts at least 30 mins, I'd say you are doing well.
This is just my experience, so I'm not sure if it'll be the same for everyone. Non-European expats in Europe are the friendliest. I don't know why, but Americans, Asians of all kind (Indians, ME, Far-East) were noticeably the most open to talk to me. Brits and Italians are the most prone to either ask for CV or berate. Germans the least responsive.
Is it worthy?
Let me clear about this, even if you do not get a job, so long that you ask good questions, it's worthy it. You'll get to talk to people who might interview you one day, you'll get to ask for tips for interviews, status of the industry, advice for starters and all sorts of things that can you help get what you want. This is invaluable info that you can't get otherwise. You'll also build the confidence to talk to people in significant positions.
I like to bring up this example up. Among the first of those I contacted, one called me, didn't tell me his name, berated me and told me what I was doing wouldn't help. I'm more or less able to find out who he is, but that's not the point. It felt like shit, but I kept going anyway. Weeks later I had a call with someone whose LinkedIn profile is not updated and whose picture isn't exactly professional, but I decided to try anyway. As it turned out through the call, this person is actually the head of a department with X000 people. After he told me, I noticed my hand holding the phone trembling. How did that call go? By the end of it, I told him I was interviewing with X rival company and he replied ''if it doesn't work out with them, send me your CV, I like your personality''. Luckily enough, I did not need to do that either, but nonetheless, it was quite the lesson.
I'm open to questions and I'll update the OP in case I remember other important things.