Career Advice Blog
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“It is not who you know, it’s who knows you” - Jarod Kintz
The quote above clearly sums up the essence and intent of networking. This simply means, it’s not about adding more and more people to your network, but being connected to those with whom you can establish and maintain mutually fruitful relations – be it personal or professional
While your skills, experience, and qualification do play a major role in getting you hired, you cannot neglect the significance of professional networking in today’s job market. In fact, it is equally important or maybe more!
Finding this hard to believe? Let’s take a look at what a recent LinkedIn survey has revealed, that nearly 85% of all job openings were filled through networking. Yes, it is that important!
At this point, it is also crucial to understand that the problem with most job hunters is not their disregard for the importance of networking. Rather, the issue lies in the execution. Simply put, their approach of creating and expanding their professional networks in the wrong way, is the culprit. This eventually renders all their efforts for making full use of their network for their job search in vain.
Again, what needs to be remembered here is that networking is less about the numbers and more about focusing on the relationships you are building. Networking can be done in a variety of ways like meeting people either in person or online. So, choosing which way works best for you is the key. Nevertheless, you should not miss any chance of taking advantage of both these approaches whenever possible.
Here we present several proven tips to create and grow a worthy professional network that you can capitalize on to help you land your dream job.
Spot Which Networking Approach Is Best for You:
The first and foremost step is to identify which way of networking suits you the best. Experts assert that people can successfully build a great network by trying many different ways, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach
A reserved person is less likely to interact with other people in the same way as an outgoing individual even at a professional level. Thus, the former should never adopt the networking style of the latter. Also, while approaching people, it is really important to remain confident and comfortable, so that you always begin on the right note
Keep in Mind the Don’ts of Networking:
There are two basic don’ts of professional networking even when your ultimate goal is getting hired:
Never request an interview explicitly. Alternatively, you can put out questions to see if the company, its employees, and its work culture suit you. It is good to let others observe your keenness in learning from their experiences.
Never ask for employment, no matter how good your rapport is with your connection. While interacting with new or old connections, just let them know that you are looking for a new role or job change. Also, tell them that you would greatly appreciate it if they share any potential opportunities with you.
Effective Use of Social Media:
Luckily, a variety of social media platforms are available that can cater to the networking needs of all sorts of professionals out there. Let’s see what’s the best you can do on two major social networking sites – Twitter and LinkedIn.
Search for your dream companies on Twitter. If you find one, start following its handle, specifically the one that is meant for recruitment. This is important to avoid missing any job opportunity they may post.
Try establishing connections with hiring managers and recruiters by commenting, retweeting, and liking their posts. After 2-3 interactions, you can approach them and begin creating a rapport while letting them know that you are interested in working with them in a roundabout way. Later, when you feel the time is right, take them to your LinkedIn page
Experts suggest that always begin with this social platform when you are in the online space for professional networking or looking for a job. Particularly for job opportunities, make searches on the basis of the companies, job titles, and other relevant criteria.
Hence you need to reach out to the professionals working at these organizations and connect with them. Never send a resume in the first interaction but do keep exploring to see if the organization and job openings are suitable for you or not.
Network at Your Workplace:
It is perfectly acceptable to network within your current organization. Your colleagues can contribute to your professional growth way more than you think.
Regardless of your time in your current company, your co-workers can assist you to grow in your present role and offer lessons that may smooth the path to your next role. At times, you may also get to know about job opportunities that aren’t yet posted anywhere, before they go up.
Offer a Helping Hand:
This seems obvious but is well worth remembering. Like any other relationship, networking can never be one-sided. It should be symbiotic in nature, offering mutual benefits to both parties. Find ways to assist people in your network and believe us, they will then be more interested in helping you out when the time comes.
Oftentimes, it is largely about being regular. So, get out of your comfort zone and take some time to interact with people, either online or by meeting them in person. It’s totally up to you whether you want to keep the conversation formal or informal.
This one crucial tip of networking is often missed by many professionals and job seekers. Soon after you meet someone worth adding to your network, send a LinkedIn request along with a personal message asking him/her to keep in touch.
Once added to your LinkedIn network, try approaching them from time to time by commenting and liking their posts and sharing valuable career-related information, or just to see if they are doing well.
Ask People in Your Network for Referrals:
This is by far the easiest way to expand your network. Simply ask your friends, family members, social media connections, or even co-workers to introduce you to their connections, so that they can help you with your job search and career growth. A friend of your friend usually turns out to be a beneficial connection.
Join Trade and Professional Organizations:
This is a great way to find people with similar professions and career interests. Once you register yourself as a member of one or more trade/professional organizations, you can get direct access to other members on the corresponding member list of each organization. You can further choose to add relevant fellow members to your network.
Most trade organizations conduct conferences and seminars at local and regional levels which again could serve as another wonderful way of growing your professional network.
Show Up at Conventions, Conferences, and Trade Shows:
One great aspect of attending industry exhibitions, seminars, or conferences is that it gives you an opportunity to rub shoulders with new people or even those who can’t be easily approached online or in person under normal circumstances. Look out for peers, industry veterans, and speakers to add to your network.
Attend Networking Events:
Attending networking events is another simple way of expanding your network. Many groups and associations, such as colleges, professional institutions, and industry associations organize networking events, the details of which can be collected from local dailies and community calendars.
Moreover, if you happen to be a guest speaker at these scaled-down versions of large conferences, you can definitely reap huge benefits as this will present you as an expert in front of local employers and peers. Chances are that you will later find them approaching you to connect.
Contact Professors and College Alumni/Career Service Cell:
One of the strongest links that you can build is through college contacts. This especially holds true for freshers.
Building connections with professionals associated with your college offers a solid platform to share experiences that certainly makes for a strong connection. Your former professors, batchmates, or someone from the college placement cell can help you develop these connections.
Start or Join Job Clubs:
Job clubs are a great place to meet people with similar professional interests and career aspirations. If they are run correctly, it can truly be a rewarding experience, helping you to build some really great connections.
Networking with other job hunters here can help you share career advice and the best job opportunities available in the job market. A job search coach or recruiter might help you find one.
Contact Previous Colleagues, Clients and Vendors: Often when we switch jobs and employers, we gradually lose connections with our former colleagues as well as clients or vendors.
Building connections with these people is not just easy but worthwhile as you already know them, and you already share some common professional attributes with them.
Putting effort and investing time in a cause is probably the greatest platform to network. This is because while doing your bit, you share space with people with a common desire to help others.
Although you may not realize it, making good use of your skills and expertise can surely help you grow as a professional. And, there might be people volunteering with you, who can recommend you for your preferred job too!
Sadly, this networking opportunity is mostly overlooked by job seekers since they tend to be more interested in exploring direct industry contacts. So, start today and find an organization that needs your helping hand.
Regardless of whether you are a fresh graduate or an experienced industry professional, networking is important for you. It becomes even more crucial if you consider the current hiring trends.
Networking develops your skills, adds to your knowledge base, and evolves you as a professional. While networking, you should bear in mind that simply adding more and more contacts to your network is not going to help you very much.
Rather, adding genuine people to your network, building mutually fruitful relationships with them, and maintaining those relations by keeping in touch with them regularly can benefit you in several ways – be it about career development or landing your dream job.