When you’re looking for a job, the importance of networking cannot be emphasized enough. Having a network of contacts is vital to ensuring your job hunt success. Yes, it’s imperative to study hard while you’re in school and do well within your field of study, but the old saying holds true: It’s not what you know, it’s about who you know that counts.
Who you know could bring about some new life-changing possibilities for you – and a job opportunity could be one. That’s why you need to make sure you’re meeting as many people as possible and focusing on building quality relationships with them. And, you always need to continue building your contact base – even after you’ve been working for 30 years. Social networking is great, and it’s definitely a must, but doing a little networking in person also never hurts. So, what are some basic tips to ensure your networking works for you?
Meet in person. Regardless of what type of networking you do, there’s still no substitute for meeting a person face-to-face and shaking hands. A direct meeting helps leave more of a lasting impression of who you are.
Start going to professional meetings. There are many professional organizations within your field of interest. Usually, they have regular meetings once a month and charge a small fee to attendees. But, it’s often worth the investment! This is a great place for you to meet several people at once and gain some new knowledge, since many of these meetings bring in guest presenters to broaden your skills. If you are unsure what professional meetings are available in your city, contact your local chamber of commerce to find out which organizations can benefit you.
Be prepared at all times. To ensure you put your best foot forward and present a great first impression, always have business cards and your résumé on hand with all of your contact information. In addition, have an elevator speech prepared. Be able to identify your skills and the type of job you’re looking for. Also, don’t avoid bragging about yourself a little. This is your chance to tell why you’d be a great employee. The goal is to show your networking contact how polished and confident you are – but just be sure to not come across as too confident because that can make you look arrogant.
Follow-up with contacts. Your networking’s not over just because the networking event ended. You have to continue building relationships with the professionals you meet. Send a quick e-mail or mail a note after the meeting to let key contacts know how glad you were to meet them. This will give potential employers a chance to respond back to you, helping open the door for more communication down the road.
Online networking. Be sure to have an online presence when it comes to networking. Create profiles on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and add the professional contacts you know. Networking is most effective when you combine both face-to-face and online options. After you meet someone in person, send them a friend request on Facebook, add them as a connection on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter. Just, be aware of what your social networks reveal about you and make sure you project the same impression online that you do in person.
Networking is a great way to get your foot in the door when you’re looking for work. Building a broad range of connections is a good idea – but just remember to build relationships with those contacts! Doing so takes time, but the end result is well worth the effort because the top way that people find a job is through a referral. So, get started today!