Author: QPS Employment Group
Wisely utilizing your present network and going out of your way to make new connections with people is just one approach to job hunting. While it is common to feel uncomfortable with networking, by following through with the right mindset and manner you gain many advantages. Your networking experience can be more than just meeting people. Read more to find out why you should add networking to the list of things you do as a job seeker and how to make the most of it.
1. Set clear goals. With a goal, whether long-term or short-term, it is easier to track your trajectory and success. They can be simple goals like meeting a specific person, regularly attending events, exchanging cards with a certain amount of people or connecting with someone related to your intended field. Your networking experience will be more effective when you have a target or career goal. Contrary to belief, you won’t have better luck in your job search if you open yourself to all possibilities. A generic request weakens your impression and makes you forgettable. Asking for specific information or leads can help your contact understand your own goals and make you an easier focus. Figure out what you want before you start while being flexible and opportunistic in the right circumstances.
2. Networking includes everyone you meet and know. Your network is bigger than you might initially believe. Along with professional contacts, your personal connections are also a part of your network including friends, immediate family, long distance relatives, colleagues and acquaintances. Your associates and relations are connected to their own network. Although the links weaken down the chain, you have the option of taking advantage of both strong and weak ties even if you’re just asking for career advice or perspective. Not everyone will have a job opening for you, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out and being genuine in getting to know them. Introduce yourself to people. Meet a friend of a friend. Catch up with a former coworker. Initiate a conversation with your neighbor. You may never know where it will lead you. However, wait on contacting more distant people if you have not yet set clear goals.
A place to start is with your references. They are people who especially like you enough to attest to your personality and endorse your abilities. If you are a job seeker, then you should already have professional and personal references on hand. Contact them to ask about possibilities or people they may know.
3. Take a step back to evaluate every once in a while. Assess your current network for its weaknesses and strengths. Are your contacts honest about marketing the real you? Do they challenge you and give you the support you need? Most importantly, how well do they represent your goals, background and skills? It is important to know where you stand to understand whether or not your network are hurting your chances and impression. Be conscious of your needs and manage your contacts wisely.
4. Focus on building relationships. Although you have the ability to reach out to anyone within your network and beyond, be aware that networking isn’t about piling on the numbers. Be authentic in pursuing what you want but simultaneously make an effort to refresh or establish a connection. Networking is about making a link through a common thread and developing it. Find a way to relate to others, not just to get a favor. Share information as well as ask questions. Most importantly, if you mean well and do not want to be viewed as using them, ask for advice not a job. A random, straightforward request will pressure both yourself and your contact. Be specific, considerate and respectful of other people. You can make maintaining and nurturing your existent relationships a lifestyle. Schedule time aside to allow that to happen.
5. Use effective communication skills. Going in hand with sharing information and fostering your connections, make it work by being a desirable conversation partner and an attentive listener. When you ask a question, pay attention and follow up with questions and nonverbal cues. Offer relevant details about yourself, but listen more than you talk. Show genuine interest in your profession and the advice of professionals. After a networking event or reconnecting with someone, contact them through email or perhaps social media if it is someone you personally know to schedule another meeting date. Make connecting with your contacts consistent, about every six months, without being too pushy.
6. Preparation can help. With enough preparation, even if you feel uncomfortable and know you are bad at socializing with others you have something to fall back on. Prepare everything that you can. If you are attending an event, research which companies will be there and learn more about the ones that interests you. Look up the people who will be giving presentations. You can prepare conversation starters, take notes and practice. With the right effort you can help yourself to look more confident than what you may feel.
7. Connect with a recruiter. Recruiters have access to a wide networking base including the hiring managers and representatives of the Human Resources department at several different companies. They know what’s available and are there to recommend you if they see that you are a fit for an opening. Along with the resources you will have access to are resume and interview tips that they can give you. You can work with as many recruiters as you can at no cost to you. While you’re at it, learn how to make the most of working with a recruiter here.
8. Have patience. Building your network, your relationships, your image and your social skills take time. Don’t rush it. Everything won’t happen overnight so relieve your anxiety by not putting that expectation on yourself and your contacts. In the meantime, make yourself visible and present. Enjoy the process as much as you can.
Surprisingly, or not, a majority of people land their jobs through networking. Efficient networking, even if on a small scale, is worth the effort. If you are afraid to be viewed as annoying, assertive or self-serving, remember that networking at its core should be predominantly about getting to know other people. Participate in an activity that will open doors and is vital to your growth and career advancement. Work on building your network today.