So often, getting a job isn’t about what you know, it’s about who you know. That’s why building a professional network is essential. You can use it to find a job, help guide your career path, and land that promotion you’ve been waiting for.
It can help you find a job and meet other people in your industry. It’s also one of the best ways to establish and reinforce business connections that could help you advance your career and earn more money down the road.
From social media to networking events to connecting with old “work friends,” the key to networking is to cast a wide net. Play the long game, as networking doesn’t necessarily always provide instant gratification. In fact, it’s most useful when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. That's why you should make your networking moves in ways that are consistent with your long-term goals and dreams.
Networking Best Practices
- Make yourself visible. It’s a big world; go explore it!
- Don’t be afraid to talk to people; that’s what networking’s all about.
- Don’t just collect business cards and shake hands; focus your conversations and efforts on the people who can eventually help you.
- Don’t look for favors too early, as this can turn your contacts off and risk damaging any goodwill you’ve created.
- Offer something of value to your network, such as helpful insight or introductions to other professionals.
- Follow-up and keep in touch. People are busy, but if you stay top-of-mind, your chances of success will rise.
- Communicate via email, blogging and, of course, social networking events.
How to Use LinkedIn Connections to Get a Job
LinkedIn, the online professional networking tool, can offer one of the best ways to connect with new contacts and exchange information. If you’re looking to make a connection with a specific person or company, use LinkedIn to see if you have a contact directly tied to that person or business and ask them to make an introduction.
Make sure your connections go beyond the digital world. Once you’ve interacted a handful of times on LinkedIn, take the next step with a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Offer to buy coffee and chat in person. Nothing beats that!
Where to Network
Well, anywhere and everywhere really – even places that you didn’t expect to network at – but here are your best bets:
- Social media (LinkedIn and Twitter)
- Networking events
- Alumni association meetings
- Charity events
- Meetings with ex co-workers, classmates, and friends
What are the best questions to ask while networking?
- Do you have any advice for someone at my level?
- How did you get to where you are professionally?
- How did you hear of this event?
- What should my next move be?
- Where did you start your career?
- Can I hear more about your career path?
- What can I do to help you out?
- What type of people do you need?
OK, now that you know how to network, don’t be shy. Get out there and do it! You never know how you’ll benefit or where it’ll take you. And make sure you check out the next step in the job search process – working the job fair
Sometimes, you just need to land a new job, fast.
Getting laid off is never easy, but having a clear plan can make the stress feel much more manageable.