Networking. The word alone can rouse powerful feelings of inactivity. But as Cher says to Nicholas Cage in “Moonlighting,” snap out of it!
Whether you are looking for a job, or hoping to align with people in your industry or other industries, networking is a significant part of your professional practice. It keeps you connected to the job market, allows you to meet and evaluate potential partners, clients, and even mentors. Most importantly, it gives you insight into the trends in your industry and helps you access the resources you need to help you along your career path.
Effective networking requires some knowledge. Before you network, you should know:
- What works best for you. In the case of networking, know the type of group that works well with your style. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? You want to choose a group that brings out the best in you, so knowing your style is important.
- What you bring to the table. Not only do you want to understand what you want from a networking group, but ask yourself what can you offer? Networking is a two-way street so be prepared to give help, advice, or leads even as you ask for them.
- The rules of networking. Let people know about your professional experience, get to know them, ask questions about their organization. If you are interested in a position, don’t openly ask for an interview or a job but let people know what you can do.
- Your network. It is important to be consistent. Connect with members of the group on a regular basis both formally and informally.
- Follow-up. Always follow up with a note of appreciation after meeting with a networking colleague. Another tip, send a LinkedIn connection request asking to stay in touch. Then, reach out from time to time either to share industry or career information or to simply check in.
Networking requires us to get out of our comfort zone and be willing to help others. Knowing how you can best do that is a valuable implement in your job hunt toolbox.