Networking can play an important part in your job search and career development.
Approximately 75% of vacancies are filled through networking channels rather than being advertised. So network to make your skills and achievements known and put yourself in the best position to hear of any job opportunities.
Networking is about building relationships with key people, sharing information and helping each other reach goals. It’s about mutual interest and benefit. The more effort you put in the more likely you are to benefit from the returns.
Network face to face at industry events and use online tools such as LinkedIn to affirm new contacts. LinkedIn allows you to see how your respective networks connect and reveals additional networking opportunities. So make sure you connect with all relevant contacts on LinkedIn.
Regularly engage with your contacts and find opportunities to help them out. LinkedIn makes it easy to stay in touch through sharing updates, commenting and sending personal messages.
Benefits of networking
- Networking is an opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and challenges with your peers
- It is likely to inspire you – giving you new perspectives, ideas and enthusiasm
- It will act as a support network
- Building a network of contacts will help keep you up to date with industry developments
- It will raise your profile and get your face known
- If you can offer helpful ideas to peers you are likely to build a positive reputation
- Active networking makes it more likely that you will be in the right place at the right time when job opportunities arise
Tips for face to face networking
- Attend on your own so that you force yourself to interact with new people
- Think about what you want to achieve from attending the event – perhaps a better understanding of a specific issue, in which case target particular attendees who are likely to have the knowledge
- Get the attendee list prior to the event, if there are people that you’d like to meet do some background research so that you are prepared to talk with them
- Think about what you potentially have to offer new contacts
- If any existing contacts are due to attend the event ask for introductions to their contacts
- Smile, look confident and appear approachable so that people are more likely to engage with you
- Introduce yourself in an assertive yet friendly manner – have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready so that you can easily engage people in conversation.
- Listen actively and genuinely engage with the people you meet – ask questions and consider how you could help each other
It’s a good idea to plan your networking. Seek out industry events – check trade publications, professional institutions and industry associations. Add events to your calendar and drop a line to contacts who may also be interested in the event. After the event, make sure you follow up on any actions that you have promised.
Keep a record of the events you have attended, some may count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). And it’ll make it easier for you to recall and discuss interesting events with peers.
Networking is an ongoing process and the benefits will build with time. The interaction will also develop your communication skills, increase your confidence and help affirm your career path.