THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING
Have you ever stopped to realize just how many people you know? Think about it, I mean really think about it. The people you know are important for many reasons because they are a part of your network. Especially if you are looking for a job, that’s where professional networking plays a part. It’s all about making contacts and building relationships. Once those relationships are nurtured, it can result in jobs. Therefore, the importance of professional networking is key.
Professional networking is not only great for jobs, but other work-related opportunities. It provides a professional way to talk to people about your job search and career desires. This communication can then lead to obtaining support, leads, referrals, information and advice. All these aspects are important in the professional world.
Let’s take a deeper dive into your network. As you scroll through the list below, ask yourself if you know anyone in these areas:
– Alumni associations
– Business Owners
– Children’s contacts (PTA, Little League, Clubs, Parents of their friends)
– Club members
– Former employers (supervisors and coworkers)
– High school & college classmates
– Internship & job associates
– Parents’ friends
– Professional associations
– Professionals (Accountants, attorneys, bankers, dentists, doctors, insurance agents, pharmacists, stock brokers, veterinarians)
– Volunteer associations
– Your school’s career service staff
When reviewing this list, it’s best to write down all the names of those who you can possibly network with and assist you.
PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN
It is always important to know how to connect professionally with people in your network. Therefore, start off by knowing how to professionally present yourself. Let people know about your employment goals. Prepare talking points and be ready to present yourself in a 30 second elevator pitch.
Having your elevator pitch ready at all times is important. A networking opportunity can happen at the least expected time.
Watch the video below to see why practicing and knowing your elevator pitch is important:
JOIN GROUPS FOR FREE
Joining groups is a great way to network with other people with your career interests. One great place to connect is on LinkedIn. In the search bar of LinkedIn, type in the group of interest. Depending on the group, you may have to enter information about yourself, or go through an approval from the group administrator. Groups have different rules and regulations. However, these are great groups to join because they are free.
There are other social media sites you can join groups in as well. So do some research to find out which groups are helpful for your field.
Many times when joining groups, you will receive information. Sometimes that information may have job opportunities attached.
ATTEND CAREER FAIRS
Attending career fairs is a great way to network with employers to obtain a job. Even if you are an alum, you may be able to still attend. Call your alma mater’s career services office to find out how they may be able to help you find employment.
KEEP A LIST OF CONTACTS
Once a contact is made, keep a record of who you contacted and when. This can be done quickly and easily by using a spreadsheet or other tracking device. As you are contacting someone, it may be helpful to be able to inform the when you originally contacted them and when to help jog their memory.
Once you make contact staying connected on LinkedIn is a great idea because staying in future contact with them is important. Remember that people are often busy and may forget to follow up with you. Therefore, you may need to follow up with them instead. If you do decide to follow up, give people an opportunity to get back with you. Do not overdo it as you may be seen as being “pushy”.
If someone is able to assist you, keep them abreast of your job search status. They may wonder from time to time how you’re doing, so let them know. Having that connection on LinkedIn is great because you can send them a message using that platform.
SAY THANK YOU
Saying thank you goes a long way. If anyone helps you, make sure to show your appreciation by thanking them in person and with a letter. Having an attitude of gratitude is so rewarding for the person who has helped you and they will be very appreciative and make them feel good.
Did you know?
It is said most jobs are never advertised – up to 85%. How are those positions uncovered? Through networking.
TALK TO PEOPLE EVERYWHERE YOU GO
When looking for a job, it is not the time to be shy. Talk to people and find out their interests and tell them what your interests are. You just never know where the conversation will lead. I have found that to be true for myself on a few occasions.
Networking can play a huge part in obtaining a job – if done professionally. There are ways to approach networking so that it can truly be advantageous to you. It is quite amazing just how many people are in our network when the list is broken down. Therefore, the best place to start is by reviewing the list above and and writing down everyone you know in the categories provided. Remember to say thank you to those who assist you in your search.
I wish you all the best in your career endeavors.
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