Networking Tips for Job Searching and Career Growth
Whether it’s informal networking or networking at professional events – love them or hate them – they can prove to be beneficial for your job search and career growth when done the right way. For some people, there’s a great deal of awkwardness to networking, but even the most introverted personality can come out a winner with the right approach.
Start with those you already know
One of the easiest ways to network is working with the people you already know. You can either benefit from your existing contacts by expanding on the relationship that already exists or having your existing contacts help with making the introduction to new contacts. Strong relationships are built when there is mutual benefit and gain. So, this time it may be your contact helping you, but the next time it should be you who is offering the help. For more tips on where to start building your professional network, read: “Networking Groups Are a Must When Job Searching.”
Be relevant and relate to others
Networking is not a cold sales call. You don’t start the conversation trying to sell or ask for help outright. Build a conversation that will engage the other person. It can be through a shared experience (“It’s a nice crowd turnout here!”), something the other person can relate to (“How did you commute here?”), or another topic that can help you two engage in more conversation to build into a more personable relationship.
Balance the conversation
People generally fall into one of the areas: those who love to talk a lot, those who have little to say, or somewhere in between. When it comes to networking, it’s important to know how to balance the conversation. Mutually share information with one another and learn to listen. Listening allows you to customize what you can add to the conversation and informs the other party that you remain engaged and interested. Asking questions is also a great way to keep the conversation going while learning more about your contact. Make sure to keep the questions open-ended to allow for an expansive response – not the typical “yes” or “no” answer.
Stay in contact
There should be no challenge with staying in contact with your network. You can choose between the phone, email, or simply sharing information on social media where you’re both connected. The periodic follow-up ensures there’s no end to the conversation and a strong relationship is maintained. When one starts to feel that they know little about you or what’s happening in your life, there is a distance that is automatically created so make the effort to stay in contact! Don’t lose relationships you’ve already established and built.
Clear your head of old-school networking approaches
Before the days of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, networking was a lot about handing out business cards and collecting those of others. Well, those days are over! Today, handing out a business card does not guarantee the formation of a relationship, nor does collecting the business card of others. In fact, most people today are networking and making the connection without the business card and going straight to email, text messaging, or LinkedIn. But, the point is that networking is much more than randomly retrieving a person’s contact information. Have a purpose to connect with the individual! Give each contact a reason to want to connect with you. For more tips, also read: “5 Ways to Break the Ice at Networking Events.”
Many opportunities are uncovered with the use of networking, whether it’s for the job search or for professional growth. For more tips on how networking can help you, read: “Network Your Way into a Job When You’re Reentering the Workforce” and “5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Job Fairs.”