When most people think about finding employment, among the top strategies that come to mind is to search in either online job sites or help wanted ads. In addition, job seekers also know that they must devote some time to updating their resumes, refining their interviewing skills, and choosing the perfect outfit for the big interview day. However, an often overlooked area for the flourishing and advancement of your career is through the power of networking.
Simply put, networking is the action of linking or interacting with other individuals to exchange information and develop contacts to reach out to as needed. The establishment of these kinds of relationships can help you achieve goals in your career and keep you current in the specific field that you are interested in. When networking there are some useful tips to keep in mind:
- Always keep professional business cards with you which include your contact information
- Dress appropriately for the occasion; i.e. professional always beats casual if you are unsure
- Keep an open demeanor: smile, listen attentively, and chat with whoever you come in contact with, and keep good eye contact
- Be prepared: do some research on the networking event and if known, people that may be in attendance
- Project good qualities such as helpfulness, optimism, and respect
The Benefits and Rewards
As you have probably surmised, networking takes lots of time and effort; however, the benefits for you in both the short and long-term are numerous and easy to comprehend. When done right, networking gives you opportunities to gain from all the relationships you put the work into fostering and sustaining. You can expect:
- Advice: Not only will you discover hot issues in the field that you are most interested in, but also you can be in the know with potential industry changes and how to tackle them. A further plus is that most of this important information will be free to you and likely gathered in informal get-togethers or over a light lunch. Many people spend an enormous amount of money hiring consultants for business guidance, with the right connections and networking skills, you do not have to do that.
- Influence: We have all heard of the old adage: our success in life boils down to the people we chose to surround ourselves with. Building the right network for the goals you want to reach is the epitome of this saying. Why? The mere association with positive, focused, and intelligent individuals will provide you with the proper energy to maintain the climb to where you want to be.
- Opportunities: Whether you are seeking a new career, looking to build a client base, or desire to be included in a joint venture, networking has the capacity to help you get there. Remember, the more you connect with people the more opportunities you will find out about and possibly pursue.
Technology has expanded to a point that making connections with people has become effortless and commonplace. It is great that we can have networks – whether business or personal – at the touch of our fingertips; however, making better efforts for face-to-face communication is where you will get the biggest bang for the investment you put in. Namely, besides the typical job fairs or social media sites, try to also attend events around your town that peak an interest in you such as at churches, charitable causes, or cultural festivals. Do not forget to keep your business cards handy.
Finally, networking properly means keeping in touch from time to time. Fostering connections is a great routine that you should prioritize. Focus on cultivating and maintaining your existing network. These habits will allow you to discover an incredible array of information, knowledge, expertise, and opportunities. In turn, find ways to reciprocate because networking is a two-way street.