For many job hunters and professionals, networking is often seen as an overrated tool in their career-boosting arsenals. However, the importance of networking in a job hunt should be up there with cleaning your teeth or taking regular exercise! You see, you never know when a contact you’ve made through networking might refer you to a potential job position or let you know when a company is about to hire. Employee referrals have become a valuable recruiting stream for companies too and as a job hunter, you are 11% more likely to get hired through a referral by an existing employee. In this article, I will dig deeper into how to network effectively and give you a clearer understanding of what networking really involves.
What Is Networking?
Networking is when you build a group consisting of associates and acquaintances, being in contact regularly for mutual benefits that suit both parties. When going into a networking relationship, instead of asking “What can I gain?” think about “How can I help?” There is sometimes a negative stigma attached to networking; some people see networking as ‘favors’, but this isn’t the case.
Did you know: Approximately 85% of all jobs are filled through networking.
The Benefits Of Networking
There can be so many benefits to networking, these include;
- Being known – when you apply for positions it can be hard to get your foot in the door, you need to create a great first impression. But, if you networked to get where you are, then chances are they already know something about you, which helps to hurdle that initial barrier and get eyes on your resume.
- Changing career paths – you may have been in your chosen sector for years, but you may want a change. A professional contact of yours may see that your skills are easily transferrable into a sector that they are connected with.
- Getting ahead of the competition – a network contact may know of new positions that haven’t been released yet. You can take advantage of the information you receive by writing a letter to the company asking about any potential positions.
- Self-development – if you have been stuck in your job and don’t know how to progress, you can learn from your network contacts. By finding out how and when their situations changed you can start to apply the steps they took to do it for yourself.
- Decreasing time between positions – if you were about to quit your job, you can use your contacts to line-up a new position before you even finish the job you are at currently
3 Ways To Network Effectively
- Get out more – it may sound silly but when you’re in a rut of a 9-5 job or you have a family to tend to, the temptation is to use your well-earned rest time in front of the T.V. with a bottle of wine and a takeout. Effective networking begins with actually meeting people, so to go out with your friend’s friends, build new circles and let people know what job opportunity you’re looking for.
- Social Media– having a social media presence is, of course, important as future employers will most likely check you out before hiring you. In terms of networking, it can be a great tool to have at your disposal. By becoming a member of industry groups and participating in discussions on professional pages can boost your chances of being thought of when an opportunity comes up.Just remember to be social on social media. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are prime places to network from the comfort of your own home.
- Go to professional events e.g. Seminars – these type of places are a networker’s dream. Dozens and dozens of people that could well be of help to you, and you to them, all in one room. As much as people go to expand their knowledge on particular subjects or fields they are there to meet new people, so use it! – friends, family, current co-workers, they all are in front of us every single day but sometimes we overlook them. Unless you ask them you never know what gem of a contact Uncle Ron could hook you up with.
What You Will Need To Network Well
- Business cards – Vistaprint / Canva / moo.com.
- Social media- https://www.linkedin.com/
- Mobile phone
- Be approachable
- Drive and determination
- Personal website- https://wordpress.com/create/
Note: Ensure to keep everything up to date. (E.g. Business cards having your correct contact information on.)
3 Ways To Develop Networking Skills
For some people networking is something that comes natural, extroverted people, in particular, seems able to execute this skill with ease. For others, it is something that they dread, but like everything, there are ways to develop this skill.
- Communication- although meeting and interacting with someone face-to-face is usually the best way to introduce yourself and build a rapport, it is not always possible to do so. Thankfully, modern technology like email, telephone, and other online options are there to break down barriers such as distance and give people an option to network the way they feel comfortable.
- Ways of thinking- ensure to remember when communicating with your acquaintance that you want them for the long-term. Exploiting them or using them for short-term gains will undoubtedly be picked up on and you risk losing them altogether. Your networking relationship should be built on a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect.
- Keep in contact– even once you have left an old place of work it’s always important to keep in touch with past co-workers. It doesn’t have to be regular contact, but enough to be able to ask them a question or two in the future.
The more you network, the easier it will become.
Go forth and become a networking superhero to ensure you get the job you’re after. Be bold and be brave my friends.
To your networking success!