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Networking Your Career

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Networking must be part of our everyday professional career.   Networking is a time-consuming endeavor, but it is a necessary activity for one to make new contacts for business and long-term career growth.   People you can network with are people you already know, or people that you do not know and have yet to meet.   Places that you go to network effectively are trade shows, local community events, jobs fairs, and industry events.  Utilizing social media pages like LinkedIn and Facebook are good ways to network too.  You can also network at your job, perhaps a co-worker may know of someone or you may know of someone that could help them in some type of situation.   The more effort you put into networking, the more it will work to your benefit.  Many people think they need to an extrovert to network successfully.  This is simply not true.  Introverts can successfully network as well.

The following list is a list of tips on how to network and do it well whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert:

  • Make sure you know who you want to meet.  Networking is more about quality than quantity.
  • Make sure you ask questions that will help you get a conversation started.
  • Work outside of your comfort zone and meet new people.
  • Make sure that when you meet someone and when they have an opportunity for you, that at some point, you provide an opportunity for them.  Networking is a two-way street.  It is a reciprocal agreement.
  • The more you network, the more you will be comfortable in doing it.
  • Networking is not so much about sales, but it is more about connecting with people in a positive way which shows your character as well as your skills.
  • Remember when you actively network, you can meet the right people who might be able to help you with a new job or promotion.  They may also help you increase the number of clients you have.
  • Networking is a good way to connect with people, especially if you want to change your career.
  • Keep in mind that everyone you try to connect with is not going to be interested but don’t give up.
  • Networking will allow you show your expertise and knowledge on certain matters.
  • The important thing about networking is to find quality connections.  You want to connect with people who have the skill set and knowledge to assist you in achieving our goals.
  • Quality works very well for networking, but so does Quantity.
    • If you are in business for yourself, increasing connections in your network may help boost sales for your product or service.
    • More people may be referred to your organization or company.
    • Quantity is good, but if you have some not-so-good connections, it is probably best to sever ties.
  • When looking for employment, remember that only approximately 40% of job openings are advertised online.  This means you can create a list of potential employers, contact them and network yourself as a viable candidate for their company.
  • Specify what you can do.  What is your expertise?  You will need to clear about this before you build your network with people within your industry.  Be specific.
  • Get involved with industry-related groups and join forums.  A good online forum is LinkedIn.  The more you connect with others, they will begin to understand what you do and what you are trying to achieve.
  • When you attempt to contact someone, find out if they prefer to be contacted via phone or email. (or some other preferred method such as Skype or Zoom, especially if they are not local) Some people do not like to be contacted by phone and would prefer if you contacted them via email, text, or through a social media platform such as LinkedIn.  When you reach out to a company, try to contact someone directly.  Be clear on why you are contacting them.  And introduce yourself; convince them to add you to their network.  If they accept you into their network, it is a good idea to follow up with them occasionally.  If they inspire you in some way, tell them so.
  • When reaching out, be sure not to be too persistent.  For example, don’t reach out to them every day.  This may annoy them.
  • When someone asks you to follow up with them, be sure to do so.  Failure to do so will make you appear that you can’t keep promises and that you may not be taking things seriously.
  • Don’t send the same message to your connections.  Make sure you personalize your message each time.
  • When you network, you need to think about what makes you so unique?  What special skills or experience can you bring into a networking relationship?
  • Try to set up a regular time that you can keep in touch with people in your network.  This will build a support system and trust.
  • Networking locally is good for the economy and promotes community pride.
  • You can check out the Small Business Association for networking endeavors.  Also check out any small businesses that you may have collaborated with in the past.  You can also ask your friends, colleagues, or family of anyone they may know that has the same interests as you.
  • If you live in an area that does not have a lot going on, you can always host your own event, for example, a charity event or a local presentation.
  • Some people are shy and reluctant to network, but there is a way around this.
    • Creating a strong profile on a social media site such as LinkedIn can help alleviate the anxiety.  Be precise about what you put in your profile.
    • When you arrange to meet with someone, limit the meeting time.  This will reduce anxiety levels.
    • When you are unclear on how to keep the conversation moving, ask a lot of questions, this will limit the amount of time you are speaking.
    • Join a group, this will take the pressure off you to have to do a lot of talking and having to lead a group of your own.
    • Start a networking group virtually, such as Google hangouts or Skype.  This will take the pressure off meeting people in large groups or face-to-face.
  • Think of ways that you can make people feel good about themselves.
    • Remember birthdates and work anniversaries and comment on them when they come up.
    • If someone posts an interesting article or gets recognition on LinkedIn or some other social media platform, acknowledge it.
    • Send holiday e-cards or cards to them.
    • Simply reach out to say hello and let them know that you are thinking about them and hope that they are doing well.

Useful Web Articles for more about Networking:

The Importance of Networking (and How to Do It Well)

10 Reasons Why Networking Is Essential For Your Career

How to Use Networking to Find a Job