Earlier this week, we told the horror story of bad networking habits, but for fear of frightening anyone too much, we’d also like to share some scary-good networking habits sure to bring your job search back from the dead.
Networking, after all, is an essential component to the process, whether you’re in career transition or currently employed and simply looking for new opportunities, but, unfortunately, not everyone is a natural. For those of us who may find networking events scary or even boring—it’s ok, you can admit it. We won’t tell—here are a few tips to remember to make the experience more successful.
- It’s about giving, not getting- All too often, professionals forget that networking is supposed to be about helping others, not just themselves. Going into an event with the intent of understanding the needs of others before expressing your own without expecting any kind of payback can get you far—you get what you give, after all.
- Ask open-ended questions- Not only will this technique break up the monotonous small talk and promote real conversation, it shows genuine interest on your part. Moreover, it will provide more substantial information from those with whom you’re speaking, which will benefit you much more than a simple “yes” or “no”.
- Venture beyond your comfort zone- Making connections outside of your own industry may seem unnecessary, but, to the contrary, it can actually be quite helpful to you and the rest of your network. Gaining connections outside your normal circle will make you more valuable to your immediate industry, so reach out to new people and never dismiss anyone as irrelevant. You never know where one connection could take you.
- Get involved- Instead of just paying annual dues to a professional organization and/or attending a few events every year, really get involved. Volunteer to help organize an event, help raise funds, etc. Engaging with an organization to a greater extent will help you make connections with those higher up the ladder, not to mention display your commitment to your professional interests.
- Take full advantage of social networks- Concerning online networking, there is a plethora of platforms from which to choose beyond the standard Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. There are plenty of networks specific to women, executives and professionals in specialized industries. (Note: Job search boards can work similarly.)
- Make the effort- Building up a network doesn’t just happen; you need to work for it. In the end, though, it will be well worth the effort of developing relationships and following up in personalized ways (i.e.: over the phone, via Skype, face-to-face, in a written letter).
- Make it a habit- Lastly, by integrating your networking skills and practices into a regularly routine, you’ll find it eventually comes naturally. Be sure to keep up with the connections you’ve already made by staying in contact with your current network while contacting new people regularly, not just at designated networking events. Don’t be afraid to send an email or make a call to someone new every day. And, if at first your efforts do not succeed (and they won’t succeed every time), try, try again.
Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.