Why You Should Network
Your network is one of the best ways to job search, whether finding a new role or a vacant role in your current company. It’s all about who you know and not what you know. Many open jobs are unadvertised, and your network can help you uncover the hidden job market.
Beyond the job search, networking can boost your social wellbeing and professional confidence, open opportunities to exchange ideas with like-minded people and help you meet individuals at all professional levels.
Sometimes we can’t just hit the ground running. If you have a big networking event lined up, ask some colleagues or your current connections out for some coffee. Think of it as a warm-up exercise. Meeting up with people you already know shouldn’t cause too much stress, and it will be a great opportunity to brush off those social skills and maintain your current connections.
Have a goal
If you go into the event blind, you’ll most likely get overwhelmed. Instead, think about what you want to accomplish before your event. Set out some goals for yourself as a jumping-off point. When going to a networking event, you should have clear goals and intentions. Examples of goals might include introducing yourself to 10 new people or introducing two sets of colleagues you think will mesh well. Having a plan allows you to focus on the quality of your connections and not the quantity.
Acknowledge the elephant in the room
You’re probably not the only one feeling butterflies in your stomach. It’s been a long two years, and for many, this might be their first in-person event since pre-pandemic times. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re nervous or slightly uncomfortable. You’ll be surprised at how many “me too’s” you hear back. It’s a great way to break the ice, and once it’s all out in the open, you can move on to creating those new connections you set out to do.
Avoid too much ‘Me’ talk
Networking is all about building relationships, so avoid the mentality of wanting to be the most interesting or the most qualified in the room. Practice those active listening skills and try to dig into what is troubling people. When networking, you still want to talk about yourself but redirect it in the way of how you can help others.
Once you leave your event, be sure to follow up. Try to make this as natural as possible, and the conversation should flow. In a notebook or preferably the notes on your phone, compile all your new connections to avoid letting them slip through your fingers. When following up, try to stick to one method to keep your follow-up in one place. You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, email, text, whatever you choose, just stay consistent. Maintain your connections once you’ve made them, and that’s through the art of the follow-up.
Refine your online presence
First things first, you need a professional online presence. Clean up your LinkedIn profile and any other social media you plan to use. Upload a professional profile photo and provide a clear call to action in your summary section or profile bio. Regardless of what platform you choose, it must be evident that your profile is for professional use. If you have personal accounts, be aware of what you post and how you might be perceived. A quick solution is to change the privacy settings so only friends and followers can access these accounts.
Quality over quantity
Often people want to get to the 500+ connections status on LinkedIn. Just because you have gained many followers or ‘connections’ doesn’t mean they are genuinely part of your network. In other words, don’t add people just for the sake of adding someone.
The goal is to make meaningful relationships. Stay engaged online and foster these connections.
Be a resource to others
Your network connections can be an excellent source of advice and support. But this isn’t a one-way street. To avoid cutting ties with people, reciprocate this support. Stay engaged online. Share interesting articles you find or comment on a connections job update. If a connection has completed a project that’s inspired or helped you in some way, share it. It’s as simple as a click of a button!
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