Networking is a highly effective way to start a job search and meet professionals who can connect you to new opportunities. A large percentage of jobs are not advertised, which means that who you know can lead to a number of job leads with employers that are hiring.
Why is networking important?
Networking helps you to expand your possibilities and to increase the number of individuals, associations, groups and professional contacts that you are connected to. You can leverage these connections to assist you with your job search and future career. Networking is also an effective tool for learning about the employment sector, your potential job and any other information that you may need for your job search.
The goal for networking
It is important to establish clear goals when you engage in any networking opportunity. Your goal should include meeting the right individuals and gathering as much information as possible around what they know and how they can help you.
How do I get started?
Here are five strategies to start your professional networking activities.
1. Start by making a list of the people you know. This list is a starting point for your networking activities.
It is often your informal network (friends, family and social acquaintances) that will get you started with meeting the right individuals. Don’t forget to follow-up with new contacts right away or to ask for introductions to additional individuals through your current network.
2. Create a plan that sets out a calendar for potential networking activities and opportunities.
The plan should include time for preparing questions, creating marketing tools, and researching the individuals and companies that you may be meeting with. Remember that networking is not about asking directly for a job, it involves establishing new connections that you can slowly build on.
3. Get past the fear of networking.
It is a normal reaction to be nervous about meeting new people and asking for their assistance. You can get past your nervousness by ensuring that you are prepared for the opportunity. Be prepared for rejection. For every new connection that you make, keep in mind that there will likely be many less successful attempts at networking. When networking in a professional setting, rejection or disinterest should not be taken personally.
4. Schedule informational interviews.
Most individuals are willing and interested in helping provided they are given enough notice and time to prepare. By scheduling informational interviews with individuals that can help, you are respecting their time and getting the most out of the opportunity by preparing and researching in advance.
5. Start to grow your network online.
Social media is a highly effective way of meeting new individuals that can help with your job search. LinkedIn provides an effective tool for identifying professionals in your field and the connections in your network that can help to make an introduction.