Networking may help you find opportunities that you may not be able to find on your own. It is important during a job search and during your career, since it may help connect you with future employment, customers, or vendors. Even one single contact may open up the types of opportunities you are looking for but could not find solo.
Knowing that networking is a powerful tool for your professional development, you may be wondering how to network more effectively to get the most out of your contacts. Below are a few simple tips to get you started.
Find People Where You Want to Be
When looking to make connections, look to anyone whom you feel could provide you with the help you need, or might give you access to contacts that could help you along the way. Find people in the fields you are interested in and connect to people in similar roles or fields. You may even choose to start by asking your family, friends, and colleagues about their connections, since they may have a broad pool of connections and would be most likely to introduce you.
Utilize Your Social Media
Social media is one of the easiest ways to interact with a lot of people without having to make time for face-to-face contact. One of the most popular social media platforms for networking is LinkedIn. Start by creating a solid profile that captures your experience; then try to connect with others in the industry you are looking to enter, or find more leads and contacts in. Once connected, follow their posts and links and comment when appropriate to start the conversation off.
Always Be Proactive
Creating a strong network is a long-term process that requires consistent work. This is why it’s always important to stay on top of networking possibilities as they come up. Did you find an old friend on social media in the field you are interested in? Be proactive by sending them a message to begin the connection.
Be sure to maintain your current connections and built relationships. This can be as simple as sending a quick email to them now and again. Don't wait for others to come to you. The more proactive you are, the quicker your network will grow.
Consider Networking Events
Sometimes face-to-face interaction is the ideal way to connect with others. If this is your area of strength, seek out networking events—such as mixers, corporate retreats, or even community events—where you may be exposed to contacts. Even if you don't make a connection that day, you should exchange business cards as a way to have each other's information available.
Follow the tips above to get the most out of your networking to grow the contacts you need to further your career.
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