The Power of Networking in Your Job Search
Networking can be a crucial component for connecting with others in your industry and moving up in your career. Here’s how to get the most out of networking.
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Business networking is the process by which individuals in similar professional or social circles share ideas and make beneficial connections. Usually undertaken in informal and social settings, networking is one of the hidden drivers of professional and personal success. On this page, you will learn tips on how to best network with other industry professionals, make important connections and enhance your career.
What Is Networking?
As the old adage states, it’s often not what you know but who you know that makes a difference. Networking with the right people in your industry is crucial to proper career development, it is more than just an exchange of information. It’s a way to share your knowledge, experience and your industry passion thereby impressing others to the point of learning about available opportunities. Lot’s of highly successful employees have found success in their career from strong networking relationships.
Why You Should Network
Putting in the effort to network in business can go a long way to helping your career. Here’s why:
- Networking gives you more connections, which opens up more job opportunities.
- Networking gives you the chance to exchange ideas and information, giving you more knowledge in your field.
- Networking boosts your confidence and helps you stand out.
Learn How to Network
If you want to make sure your business networking efforts bear fruit, it is important that you understand the main networking methods as well as their benefits and limitations. These are the most effective business networking methods.
Social media networking
Friend circle networking
Social media networking is one of the most effective networking methods and thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, it’s also one of the most accessible. The main benefit of social media networking is its accessible nature. If you’re very busy or typically shy, social networking is a viable option. You can make connections by reaching out to specific colleagues and mentors, or by searching for a specific company that you are interested in working with. Be sure that your social media profiles are up to date so your work-related information is accurate.
Friend circle networking is the most traditional form of business networking but it remains one of the most effective. This type of networking is a result of meeting business connections through existing friends. This particular benefit is hugely important for professionals and business owners that are new to an established and competitive market. Since most friend circle networking is done via socializing or while attending church, school or community events, it’s always important to behave in an appropriate manner. You never know how powerful a connection can be to your networking efforts.
Event networking can be performed through a combination of business and social functions. It could be career, skills or industry related while attending conferences, seminars and showcases. This method allows for the easy exchange of information and business cards. At these networking events, you can expect to meet a wide range of people and colleagues on a similar career path. Remember that your sole purpose is to make valuable connections so avoid being so bold to ask about job openings. Allow the lines of communication to be set first and you will be pleasantly surprised how opportunities will open up.
7 Key Networking Tips
Whether you are just starting out on your career path, considering a career change, looking for industry expertise or wanting a new job, networking is an effective first step. Here are 7 key networking tips to get you started:
1. Know where you’re hoping to go
2. Talk to the people in your circles
3. Reach out to everyone
4. Work on your body language and presentation skills
5. Know your goals
6. Think in terms of exchange
7. Find common ground
Before you begin networking with potential employers and business partners in your industry, you should define goals for your career development and networking process. Think about the professions, positions and certifications you have and the ones you would like, then seek out partnerships with people who are either on the same path or in positions that you would like to be in one day.
Perhaps you are looking to get certified in your field or gain some additional training. By networking at industry conferences can provide you with connections that have already attained the specific certification or completed higher level training. You can gain valuable guidance on the most effective path to take.
Referrals are priceless when it comes to networking. If you work in an office or for a large company in your industry, your more experienced coworkers may well know some people in the industry who could be helpful to you.
Make a list of the people you do know and a list of the people you would like to connect with and then take steps to make those connections. Perhaps there is a manager in another department of your very own company who shares a similar career background as you and could be a worthwhile mentor. Through your own teammates, an introduction to that person could be a rewarding experience.
Take advantage of all networking opportunities that are presented to you. Any industry colleague, parent at your local school, neighbor or even a stranger in the supermarket can turn out to be a good connection and a valuable mentor.
Alumni events are also great for making connections because you already have the college or university as common ground. Whether an alumn is part of your industry or not, he or she may know an industry professional that you should be in contact with. Networking is an unlimited endeavor and connections can be made anywhere and at any time.
Just as you would prepare for a job interview, it’s a good idea to prepare ahead of a networking event. The tried and true “elevator pitch” is a great way to have a brief but impactful career summary ready for any networking conversation.
Once you have your words thought out, remember that body language is equally as important as your words. This includes smiling, standing tall, firm handshakes, keeping an appropriate physical distance and maintaining eye contact during the conversation. When you look away during a conversation, it appears that you are bored and eyeing your next connection.
What is your main reason for networking? Perhaps you want to make as many industry connections as possible, hear about new advances in your field, meet potential clients or find a new job opportunity. Before attending a networking event, jot down your goals for the seminar, conference or luncheon.
For example, plan to give out at least 10 business cards, receive 10 business cards from new connections, share a business success or new planned venture. Your goals will allow you to remain focused at the event as opposed to just wandering around the room.
Attending a networking event will be more successful if you are willing to share your expertise with others. In other words, don’t look at networking as “what’s in it for me?” Instead, be ready and willing to share a groundbreaking business process, job opening or new technology that has proven successful in your line of business.
An example could be to share that your office just switched to a new database system that is adding outstanding productivity. This allows you to provide advice and offer assistance to a potential client.
As you are engaging in conversation during a networking event, asking a few questions to those you’re speaking with can open the door to meaningful networking. Listen carefully to their answers so you can pick up on any mutual interests or common ground. This can help you share a bit of your personality and life outside of the business environment.
As the conversation proceeds, you will feel more comfortable to segue the conversation to discuss industry-related topics. Showing your human side of business may even open the doors to future career opportunities through networking.
Extra Tip: Get your resume ship-shape
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Q: What are 3 examples of networking?
Three examples of networking for business purposes are the following:
- Social media networking – Make immediate connections via social networking sites like LinkedIn.
- Friend circle networking – As your current connections for networking referrals.
- Event networking – attend seminars, conferences, lectures and alumni events.
Q: What is the purpose of networking?
The purpose of networking is to build a list of industry-related contacts and mentors while opening the door to new career opportunities.
Q: What is the difference between networking and socializing?
The difference between networking and socializing is that networking has the main intent and purpose of building business connections. Although socializing can have a business intent, it most often has the purpose of simply building relationships.
Q: How do I start networking?
Though it may seem daunting, the best way to network is to simply start doing it. If you wait until you have the right connections, you are unlikely to ever make real progress. Only by actively networking and building relationships will you create a network of contacts and new connections. c
Don’t forget that even the smallest steps can make a big difference if you are consistent.
Q: Who should I be networking with?
The networking process can happen with anyone who will listen. You should network with everyone that can help you develop and grow in business and as a person. Whether you’re entry level, experienced, management, a business owner or you want to add to your client list, mentors, colleagues, alumni and industry experts would make great connections.
Q: What’s the best place to start networking?
If you have time in your schedule, attend as many professional networking and alumni events as possible. If you are pressed for time, you can still do business networking from your home or office through social media sites like LinkedIn.
All networking opportunities, whether in person, virtual, email correspondence or through social media can help you find mentors, build relationships and partnerships, and help you learn about exciting new industry-specific opportunities.