Powerful networking tips can give you an edge in any job market. Right now, it’s a job seekers’ market and many employers are feeling the crunch of a skills shortage. Still, powerful networking tips can be essential to building a job search toolkit. Studies show that only five to twenty percent of jobs are formally advertised, and job seekers have to look for more innovative ways of conducting a work search. Networking can be a powerful tool when conducted properly, and can put you in contact with people that will help to take your career where you want it to go.
Put simply, a network is the web of people that you know. Each person in that network knows others that can become a part of your network if you get in contact with them. So how can you start activating and building on your network? There are a variety of ways that you can create and maintain a network. There are no hard and fast rules. However, here are some steps to help you build your network and make the most of it.
Top 10 powerful networking tips
1. Make sure you know who you are, what you want, and what you have
This means knowing what direction you are headed in and being able to communicate to others what it is that you have to offer.
2. Prepare a resume and a networking business card
Make sure you have your resume or networking business card with you at all times when you are job searching – you never know who you will meet! It’s a tool to assist your network in remembering you.
3. Create a 20-second verbal business card
Use this when introducing yourself to people – it is a clear, concise way of communicating who you are, what your goals are, and what you have to offer.
4. Conduct information interviews
Information interviews are a great way to get information for your work search, such as what skills are needed for a particular position, what duties are required of a particular job, what the demand is like within an industry and whether there is anyone else who might be able to talk with you about your area of interest. Conduct information interviews with people who are in the industry or position you are interested in.
5. Join professional associations or volunteer
Membership in a professional association provides you with an ideal networking opportunity. Some associations are geared to certain industries, so this is a great way to make contacts in your area of interest. There are also networking associations that can connect you with others who will support you in your career development. Volunteering is another great way to make contacts – you can volunteer to sit on a committee, organize events, provide services, etc. The important thing is to volunteer for something that interests and inspires you – this will lead you to other like-minded people (who are great to have in your network!).
6. Keep your network organized
It’s important to recognize that each person in your network is valuable, even if the value isn’t immediately apparent. Make sure to keep your network organized by using a notebook or database with contact information, company name, title and any other information you’ve learned about them. A great tip is to jot notes on the back of someone’s business card after you first meet them to remind you of what you discussed and what you learned about them.
7. Make real connections with people – be genuine. Smile!
Networking is about quality, not quantity – it should be about connecting with people, not just collecting their business cards. Besides, the goal of networking is not to land you a job, but to build a web of people that you have a meaningful relationship with – this will last much longer and be more beneficial. Remember, it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
People are often complimented that you think they can assist you. Contacts can give you a lot of useful information, such as a referral to a new contact, a tip about a job, information about the industry you’re interested in, advice on your resume, or information about the skills/experience you need for certain positions.
9. Offer to help – it comes full circle
Remember, networking isn’t just about an end goal (ie. getting a job). It’s a give-and-take situation, and sometimes the most beneficial thing you can do is offer to help someone in your network. Helping someone else often helps to build a stronger relationship, and there is a great likelihood that they’ll want to do you a favour in the future (like giving you the inside scoop on a job they know you’d be perfect for!).
10. Keep in touch with your network
Again, it’s all about making your network meaningful. Keeping in touch doesn’t mean a lengthy email every week – in fact, this could turn some people off. It means, though, that you should be mindful of this relationship. So next time you read an article that someone you know might be interested in, send them an email. Or get involved with some of the social networking sites, such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Who knows who you’ll meet or what you’ll get in return?
Although it can be daunting, the best way to start building your network is to just get out there and do it! Remember the adage that there are only six degrees of separation between you and anyone else? Who is it you want to meet? They may not be far from reach!
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