- 80% of jobs are never advertised, they get filled by word-of-mouth. This is where networking comes in!
- Purposeful one-to-one contact, either in-person or through social media, and group meetings/conferences are the two major ways of developing a network.
- By carrying the right attitude, giving and receiving mutually, and just being yourself, you will find career networking producing the results that you have always desired.
There is a quote about networking that goes, ‘Your career depends on who you know!’ Nothing can sum up your career as good as the above quote.
Networking has for long been considered the most effective method for career advancement. Although it might not necessarily help you get the job, it definitely plays an important role before, during and even after the hiring process.
Networking is all about connecting with people; those resources you cannot do without, at any stage of your personal or professional life. It is a valuable strategy to develop your career, because it uses people, your connections to:
- Assess your interest and skills
- Explore industries and jobs through them
- Learn about trends in specific fields
- Understand the skill sets required for every job
- Help you understand yourself and your career goals.
Almost 80% of job requirements are never advertised. The only way such opportunities are recognized and filled is through word-of-mouth, and this is where networking comes in. In other words, ‘your contacts will help reveal the hidden job market.’
People who come within the network include:
- Professional contacts- People whom you know through work, career events, meetings and internships.
- Family/ Friends- Relatives and friends who are aware of your interests and careers.
- Education Contacts- People who have reached out from school/college, including past alumni.
- Social Networking Sites- Connecting people through social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
No matter what purpose you use networking for, whether for referrals, advice or even possible job leads, there are basically 2 ways to go about it:
- By purposeful one-on-one contact through email, phone, letter, online networking sites or in-person. This method will need considerable effort from your end.
When the networking is in-person, you will have to take the initiative to make the first approach, introduce yourself, share relevant information, and ask for specific help in relation to your requirement.
When the networking is virtual, be as persistent as you can, but respect the unseen boundaries of the online space. Every online communication must be professional and to the point, the language has to be impeccable and help specific. Also, follow-up with the job query at a reasonable time of two weeks, not sooner.
- Through a career event or professional meet-up, where a large group of similar minded people or those that share a common job, are present. This is relatively easy and the exposure is immense, but following-up is equally important.
A recent online survey conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas has revealed that networking done online and offline are the most valuable tools that a job seeker can use in advancing his career.
When asked to rate job search tools on the scale of 1 to 10, Social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter were rated at 3.3, with over 47% respondents rating them at 4.
Among the least effective were classified ads, and job fairs, garnering a 1.7 and 1.6 rating respectively.
The survey has provided a very insightful view on how many people today are using the online space for networking. What many people don’t realize however is that the online search can yield positive results only when coupled with traditional marketing methods such as meeting recruiters in person.
Traditional marketing is still considered the best way to introduce oneself to potential employers, because;
- It helps get you in touch with the right people who are looking to hire.
- It helps the recruiter get in touch with the right candidate directly, through a warm call.
- It helps the people involved get to know each other beyond the career requirement.
Career networking, whether done online or offline is not mutually exclusive, because one complements the other. The trick is remembering that every person in the network can become a potential lead at any point in time. Therefore, it works to maintain a good relationship and cultivate it in the long run.
To summarize, great Career Networking depends on the following important factors;
- Approaching it with the right mind-set
Networking is similar to nurturing plants, as opposed to destroying them before they even grow. Cultivating long-standing relationships will produce more results and is beneficial in the long run.
- Carry your networking tools wherever you go
These include name badges, visiting cards, résumés etc., anything that you can produce if and when the conversation veers towards topics to do with your career.
- Listen attentively and speak only when required
A networker uses both his ears and his mouth in the same proportion. Talk to people about their work and get them to open up. All you have to do is keep your ears open to take in all they say.
- Help people with genuine leads whenever possible
The golden rule of networking; ‘the more you give, the more you beget’, holds true always. Helping people out when required, ensures that your networking is effective. When you reciprocate positively, your relationships will prosper, and so will your gains.
- A little courtesy goes a long way
After having received a positive referral from a contact, follow it up with a call or a thank-you note. This shows that their relationship is valued and appreciated.
- Try and meet new people all the time
At every occasion or public gathering, meet and get to know as many people as you can. You never know which contact can give you a potential lead that can alter the course of your future.
- Be authentic, and be yourself
To build relationships that last a lifetime, you must present yourself just as you are. Trust is based on a consistent behavioral pattern, and this coupled with genuineness will help sustain long lasting relationships.
The most important part of networking; following-up is doing exactly what you promised the person you will do. It may be a phone call, sending a resume or passing on a lead. If you have got a job lead through a person, follow-up with him to let him know how it was.
Career Networking is an integral part of the job search process today. Putting in your time and efforts to sustain your relationship with your network will ensure that you are richly rewarded when the time comes.
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