The benefits of ongoing networking throughout your career cannot be underestimated. For professionals who unexpectedly find themselves on the job market, their previous networking efforts are often the key to them securing alternatively employment quickly.
Here are our tips for great networking that might just be that vital difference when it comes to your next career move:
Make a list: First of all, compile a list of people who may be able to help you in your job search, not just now but in the future. Include all of their contact information, together with details of how you met or first connected with them. It needs to be a straightforward list that’s easy to update as you make new connections.
Stay in touch: This is the hard part. If you suddenly find yourself on the job market, you’re going to struggle to get job referrals if you approach ‘connections’ out of the blue. Keep in touch while things are going well through sharing relevant information, asking for advice, posting questions in LinkedIn groups and so on. Try contacting just one or two different connections each week to begin with.
Take advantage of social media: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all great sites for remaining visible within your network. Again, ensure your posts are relevant and remember relationships are two-way.
Focus on quality: Rather than amass dozens (or hundreds) of connections that you can’t manage or don’t really know, focus on a smaller number of meaningful contacts. Set yourself a criteria of industry sectors, target employers and people who attended the same college as you - or members of the same LinkedIn groups for example. Developing a number of quality relationships over time will pay dividends when you find yourself looking for your next job.
Consider mentors: Look for people who you admire who may be able to mentor you in your long-term career plan. Typically, these connections will have achieved exactly what you want to aspire to in your career. Reach out to them and ask for advice on how they succeeded. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific advice or introductions to people that might help you.
Face-to-face networking: It’s easy to get lost in social media and the connections we make online. As an alternative, try joining local industry groups and professional associations where you can connect with people face-to-face.
Be grateful: Whether or not someone can help you, always express your gratitude for their time. E-mail is acceptable but where you’ve received invaluable help, such as a direct referral for a job interview, a telephone call is preferable. Keep in mind that it’s not just about saying thank you when you receive a job offer. Assistance with the small steps towards that job is invaluable too.
Maintain your network: Always review and nurture your connections list. This is an ongoing strategy, not a one-off move in your next job search.
Give back: It’s not all about you. The most effective networking involves two-way communication. You may well have to give out before you give back but it’s often the most unlikely connection who you helped over a year ago who may lead to the most beneficial referral in the long-term.
Whether you are looking at a move now or in the future, our advice is to make networking an integral part of your working week. When it comes to your next job search, you won’t regret it.