Outside of keeping a positive attitude, networking is the most common tip given to job seekers. Do it well to gain referrals, leads, and advice. With hundreds of books, and countless blog posts, dedicated to networking, you’d think this topic would be easy for most to master.
You can read over and over that it’s who you know that counts. Unfortunately, what may seem like a simple and straightforward task of making contacts and building relationships is actually a complicated process. For some, even the thought of networking triggers intense fear and anxiety. For others, networking feels impossible due to their location or industry preferences.
Before moving forward, it’s important to realize job hunting is a process. While certain people are lucky enough to land a job after filling out a couple of applications, the vast majority of job seekers have an entirely difference experience. For them, this process involves a myriad of activities.
Rounding out the top of this process is networking.
Just how important is networking? With a staggering number of jobs filled through networking, it’s easy to see the impact of this common practice.
If you’ve already revamped your resume and LinkedIn profile you’ll be in a better position to improve your networking. These key documents are part of your networking survival kit because they communicate your skills and your professional upside. When done well, you’ll find more people will want to talk to you.
Effective Tips for Starting Your Networking Journey
For many job seekers, the hardest part of networking is knowing where to start. Understanding the importance of networking is one thing, but taking action is a completely different story.
In some cases, social anxiety and insecurities cause inaction, but for others, it’s simply not knowing where or how to start. Sometimes, the answer to this problem is right next to you, literally.
One of the most effective ways to start this journey, is to connect with people around you most. While it may seem like common sense, the majority of job seekers fail to take advantage of an untold number of resources they’re surrounded by each day. The majority of us have ample people around us who want nothing more than to help in this frustrating and cumbersome experience.
Your closest confidants, such as your spouse, friend, cousin or whoever else you have by your side: if possible, let them help.
It’s not uncommon to feel embarrassed or prideful when it comes to asking loved ones for help. While understandable, there are times when leveraging the love and care of others is necessary to keep you moving forward.
If you aren’t sure how to bring up this topic, on your next visit explain your current employment situation. While they’ll likely already know this, dive into what you need. Explicitly ask these loved one for help.
The primary goal is to see if any of your loved ones, friends, and colleagues can connect you with someone who may be able to help your job hunt. This can be an industry insider, or an employer. Remember, it never hurts to ask, but it will hurt if you don’t. As Oprah Winfrey said, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
Navigating the Networking Conversation - Tips for Success
As an opportunity to network arises, it’s important to understand what you should or shouldn’t do. This is often a confusing moment because you must maintain the balance of asking for help without coming across as needy.
While you’re attending the networking event, or one-on-one encounter, to receive help, that doesn’t mean the entire meeting is about you. Actually, the opposite is true.
Networking meetings are opportunities to discuss your industry, trending topics, and to relay your knowledge. Remember, when networking, you’re conversing with like-minded professionals. Remain engaging and let curiosity guide your conversations.
Closing the Networking Circle - The Value of Quality Follow-Ups
Think the networking event ends when you leave? Think again!
The most common misconception about networking is it only involves in-person meeting. Of course, this is a major component, but it’s only the beginning of your communication and relationship with the person or persons you spoke with.
Your actions after the networking meeting are just as influential, if not more, when it comes to the potential success of this activity. The meeting was an introduction, and the days following are about fostering the newfound relationship.
A principle element of networking is staying in touch. For the foreseeable future, set a calendar reminder to contact this person each week. Try and identify commonalities between the two of you and use these shared interests to continue your conversation. You’ll be surprised how these casual correspondences can transform into an exciting opportunity.
Networking doesn’t have to remain this scary, mystical, and intimidating beast. By starting small and focusing on building tangible relationships, you’ll find this necessary task less scary and more fulfilling. Remember, you’re in control of this seemingly uncontrollable process. You simply must take one day at a time and optimize any opportunities that come your way.