Build Your Network
- Job Search Resources
- Published on September 25
Despite how uncomfortable it may make you, networking is a crucial part of the job search process in any industry, including Alternative Proteins. This is especially true if you’re looking to change industries or roles. Reaching out for informational interviews, joining industry networks, and attending events can help clarify what you’re looking for in your next role and can also give you the opportunity to articulate the ways your experience is relevant to the industry in ways that can’t be achieved on paper.
Effective Approaches to Networking
Reaching Out for Informational Interviews: Informational interviews are valuable opportunities to learn from professionals already established in the alternative proteins industry. Reach out to individuals through professional platforms like LinkedIn or during industry conferences or events, introducing yourself and expressing your interest in their expertise.
Be respectful of their time, and during the conversational interview, ask thoughtful questions about their career path, the industry landscape, and advice for someone making a transition. You can do this by reviewing their LinkedIn profile ahead of time so that your questions and comments are on point with their experience.
See our list of informational interview questions below to get the most out of each connection.
Joining Industry Networks and Online Communities: Participate in online forums, LinkedIn groups, and social media platforms focused on alternative proteins. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and share your insights. These networks provide a platform to connect with professionals, share experiences, stay up-to-date with the latest industry news, and potentially learn about job opportunities before they are posted to the general public. Follow Alt Protein Careers on LinkedIn to stay up to date with hiring trends, job openings, and career resources, and to stay active in the community through post comments.
Attending Industry Events and Conferences: Industry events, conferences, and seminars offer unparalleled networking opportunities. These gatherings bring together experts, researchers, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the alternative proteins field. Attend talks, workshops, and panel discussions, and actively participate in networking sessions to meet like-minded individuals and build connections.
Effective Networking Strategies
- Crafting Your Elevator Pitch: Prepare a concise and compelling elevator pitch that explains your career transition goals and highlights your relevant skills and motivations. This pitch will serve as an introduction during networking interactions and help others understand your unique value.
- Research and Personalization: When reaching out to potential contacts, demonstrate your genuine interest by researching their background and contributions to the industry. Mention specific points that resonate with you in your introductory message, showing that you've invested time in understanding their work.
- Adding Value to Connections: Networking is a two-way street. Offer value to your contacts by sharing relevant articles, insights, or introductions that align with their interests, or offer to introduce them to other interesting people you’ve met with. Building a mutually beneficial relationship can lead to deeper and more meaningful connections.
- Seeking Mentorship: Identify individuals whose career paths align with your aspirations and seek mentorship. A mentor can provide guidance, advice, and a sounding board for your ideas, significantly enhancing your transition process.
- Being Respectful of Time: When requesting informational interviews or attending events, respect professionals' time constraints. Be punctual, concise, and focused during interactions.
- Do your homework: If you know the name of the person you are meeting with, do your homework. Use LinkedIn and “Team” pages on company websites to get a better understanding of who they are and what they’ve accomplished.
- Come prepared with questions: Ideally, know what you want to get out of the meeting and be prepared with relevant questions to make the most out of the connection. See our [list of informational interview questions] for guidance.
- Following Up Appropriately: Send timely thank-you notes or emails after meetings and events. This shows your appreciation for their time and maintains a positive impression. It can also help you keep track of connections down the road (e.g., you can search your email or LinkedIn messages to get a quick reminder of the context of your interaction.)
- Nurturing Connections: After initial interactions, maintain your relationships by sending follow-up messages expressing gratitude for their time and insights. Keep them updated on your progress, and share any achievements or milestones in your journey.
Informational Interview Guide
Think of an informational interview as a conversation, but come prepared. The questions you ask should take into consideration the other person’s background and experience, and help give you a holistic understanding of the field. Take genuine interest in the person’s career and background. Here are some questions tailored for someone keen on diving into the alternative proteins sector:
- Industry Landscape and Growth:
- How did you first get involved in the alternative proteins industry?
- From your perspective, how has the alternative proteins sector evolved over the past few years?
- What do you foresee as the biggest trends or shifts in the industry in the next 5-10 years?
- Roles and Opportunities:
- What roles are currently in high demand in the alternative proteins industry?
- How do you see the demand for [specific role you're interested in] evolving in the near future?
- Are there any emerging subfields or niches within alternative proteins that are particularly exciting?
- Skills and Qualifications:
- What skills and qualifications are particularly valuable in this industry?
- For someone transitioning from [your current/previous field], what additional training or certifications might be beneficial?
- Challenges and Rewards:
- What do you find most challenging about working in the alternative proteins space?
- Conversely, what aspects of your work do you find most rewarding?
- Industry Culture and Dynamics:
- Can you describe the typical work culture in the alternative proteins sector? How does it differ from other industries you might be familiar with?
- How important is interdisciplinary collaboration in this field?
- Advice for New Entrants:
- What advice would you give someone looking to break into the alternative proteins industry?
- Are there any misconceptions about the industry that you feel are important to clarify for newcomers?
- Networking and Growth:
- Which industry events, conferences, or seminars do you find most beneficial for networking and professional growth?
- Could you recommend any organizations or groups that are pivotal for someone new to the field?
- Personal Journey and Reflections
- How do you keep updated with the latest research and developments in the field? Are there specific resources or publications you rely on regularly?
- Reflecting on your journey in the alternative proteins sector, is there a decision or action you took that you believe significantly accelerated your career or deepened your understanding of the industry?
- Industry Impact:
- From your vantage point, what kind of impact do you believe the alternative proteins industry will have on global food systems in the next decade?
- Transition and Alignment:
- For someone like me, coming from [your current/previous field], what would be the key factors to consider to ensure a smooth transition and alignment with the core values and goals of the alternative proteins sector?