Career networking can help you to find the job you want now and it can be the catalyst you use to continue to advance your career for many years. Your professional network will consist of people who will be your inside track on the best opportunities in your industry. You can also utilize your social network to be a resource for people and become the kind of person that everyone turns to for the answers to problems and questions.

There are few things more valuable to an up-and-coming professional than a reliable set of good contacts. These tips will teach you how to leverage your social network successfully and use your connections to get a leg up in your professional life.

1. Always Be Networking

Whenever you leave the house, make sure that you always have a stack of business cards with you. Do not be afraid to bring up what you do in casual conversation, especially if you are asked. If your area of expertise can help someone to solve a problem, then offer your services and a business card as well. You should always be ready to network, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

2. Show an Interest in Others

Wondering how to network—or how to get started? The fastest way to get people to show an interest in what you do is for you to show an interest in what they do. You will find that there are a lot of interesting people in the world and you want as many as possible in your professional network. When a conversation starts, get yourself involved and be prepared to be a good listener. When you show interest in what others have to offer, you will instantly gain their attention.

3. Do Not Discriminate When It Comes to Industries

Just because you are in the engineering field does not mean that you should avoid networking with physical therapy professionals. The point of a good career network is to get your name and your qualifications exposed to as many people as possible. Also, expanding your social network opens the door to more of your contacts connecting you with the people who need your help. You can enhance your position as a go-to person with a diverse professional network.

4. Be a Real Person, Not a Car Salesman

There is nothing wrong with smiling whenever you meet someone new, but you should always be yourself when expanding your career network and avoid playing a role. If you try to be someone you are not, that will eventually catch up with you and could damage your reputation within your entire network.

5. Be Responsive to Members of Your Social Network

You should always encourage members of your career network to call you when they have a question or need information on something related to your field. When new members of your career network do call you, make them feel welcome and do whatever you can to help their situation. Being responsive to your career network members is something that will help strengthen the bonds you have with those members.

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