Networking is an overused word, you hear it everywhere: ‘networking events’, ‘networking opportunities’, ‘a chance to network’ but what does it actually mean? And, once you understand what it is and how to do it, how can you use it to improve your chances of getting a job?
The point of any type of networking is to put yourself out there. In a challenging economic climate, work won’t just come to you; you have to seek it out. This can be in person or through the online domain, but either way it is a process of give-and-take that needs regular attention.
There are a few simple approaches to networking. It is important to remember that through every channel, that you are representing yourself as a brand: be consistent, be confident and be professional.
Your digital presence
There are plenty of opportunities to network online. One key addition to your networking toolkit are the professional social media networks, such as LinkedIn, which allow you to build connections within the industry you’d like to work. Participate in discussions of relevant groups and forums, and keep an eye out on the job postings.
You can also engage with companies you would be interested in working for on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Get involved in discussions, comment on their pages and use these channels to get noticed. Make sure that the profile you are using for this activity is clean and professional – avoid any drunken photos or that holiday shot of you in swimwear (no matter how hot you are).
Online isn’t the only way to go
There are plenty of business networking events around, from breakfasts and cocktail receptions to industry conferences. You can find out about these online, or keep an eye on local event listings. Smaller local events can be just as beneficial – if not more – than large ones, as you may have greater opportunity for quality time with key figures.
Though these events might seem initially daunting, just think that everyone there is in exactly the same position – strike up a conversation about the food, the venue, what they’re up to at the weekend. Get to know people as people, not just as a business card.
Networking is not just about telling every person you meet that you are looking for work. It’s wise to build a relationship with them: share information, provide your opinion on an article they have posted online or an interesting perspective on the latest industry news. You should also be able to show them that you know your field and are taking an active interest in developments.
Once you have built a relationship with a person or industry community, then you can start working into conversation that you are seeking a job. This could be something as simple as changing your LinkedIn status to promote your availability.
You might also wish to send out personal emails to a few key contacts, suggesting that you are available for a position at their organisation. Make sure to explain why the previous contact you have had with them has garnered your interest in working for their company.
Don’t miss out
Every opportunity could be seen as a networking opportunity. You might go to a friend’s party, only to be introduced to someone doing your dream job: make sure to ask about it and get to know them. You might also hear of a role through family members, or ex-colleagues in new organisations.
Nurture your contacts and networking will become second nature to you. This rule counts even after you have found a job, as you never know when your little black book can come in handy for the future.
- LearnVest: 8 Mistakes You Should Never Make On LinkedIn (huffingtonpost.com)
- Why LinkedIn is Important for Your Professional Future (freshviewconcepts.com)
- Job Search: How to find a new job using LinkedIn! (wisewolftalking.com)
- GUEST BLOG: 10 simple steps to network successfully for a job (yorkcareers.wordpress.com)