Grow and Enrich Your Network Constantly
How robust is your network?
A few key online networking tips can help you get started today. Networking should be a natural part of what you do as a professional, although it isn’t natural for many. Networking is important before and during job searches.
Do you have a network of professionals who know you for your ability to use your skills in a variety of roles across industries? Remember it’s not just who you know—it’s who knows you and what you’re capable of. If cutbacks were to occur at your company, would they avoid letting you go? Are you someone who does a “good” job but isn’t well known? Can you really afford not to position yourself for being known for the work you’ve done and for the work you’re capable of?
Passive networking, e.g., linking up online via a social network or exchanging business cards with someone and seldom talking with them, will most likely not lead to a successful job search. More importantly, such methods should not be relied upon to produce the results you want. It’s critical that you develop of variety of networks. You must also give in order to receive. Be willing to connect others and offer support if possible. You never know when someone you’ve helped may be in a position to help you.
Once you have identified the organizations where you prefer to work, identify who you know within the organization and reflect upon how well you know them. Are they in a position to support your applying to a vacancy or could they provide insight about future vacancies? Consider these individuals direct connections in your network – they can directly connect you to your preferred place of employment.
Perhaps you lack any direct connections to your preferred place of employment. Identify who in your network is connected to anyone at your preferred place of employment and engage with them. Consider these individuals bridges in your network. If you lack direct knowledge of who may be a bridge, try using professional and personal connections and online professional networking tools such as LinkedIn.
Lastly, if you lack direct connections or bridges, identify who you need to connect with at the organization. This may be a hiring manager, vice president, or divisional director, manager or supervisor. An advanced Google search may prove useful to you in this instance or you may be able to obtain this information via the organization’s website, from a professional association, or via a local chamber of commerce. Remember to consider the colleagues of your friends and family, your alumni associations, and local community members’ as potential connections and bridges.
Numerous resources are available online related to networking. Networking is a critical component to every professional’s career. You may discover your obligations permit more active networking at times than others and that’s understandable. What’s important is that you consistently focus on staying engaged with your network and not simply focus on increasing the number of contacts you have—it’s quality, not quantity that matters. Your professional success depends in large part on networking. Remember online networking is important but perhaps more important is establishing and growing relationships in person. Try using online networking tips to supplement your offline networking.
Photo by Thomas Hawk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.