Many people underestimate the importance of networking when looking for a job. However, making personal connections is one of the best ways to learn about job openings, score an interview or receive a recommendation. Spending time cultivating and expanding your network can make a big difference in your career success. Here are five simple networking tips you can put to use in your job hunt.
1. Seek to Help
While it's true that you would like to receive some assistance or information from your contacts, the focus of networking should really be on being helpful and giving as much as you get. People are more apt to go out of their way for someone who has done the same for them. Get to know new people and stay in touch with those already in your network. Strive to find ways you can be useful to them.
2. Have a Strategy
You'll want to have a plan for your networking efforts in order to get the best return. Think about what you will say when you talk to people about your job hunt. It's a good idea to have an elevator speech, or short summary of your career objectives, prepared to share with those you come in contact with. Research networking events and groups. Write a list of contacts you already have whom you could call on for leads or information.
3. Get Out There
Once you have a strategy in place, you need to act on it. It may seem obvious, but it's easy to let fear or life's other obligations get in the way of focusing your networking efforts. Schedule a couple networking events within the next month. Set a lunch date with a colleague you haven't seen in awhile. Take action to get yourself out there.
4. Nurture Current Contacts
As mentioned earlier, networking really is all about relationships. So don't neglect your current relationships. Consider quality over quantity. The contacts you already have know you, and you have an established rapport. Consider ways in which these people in your life may be able to assist in your job search.
5. Use Social Media
Face to face interaction is great for making personal connections, but social media can be just as beneficial to networking. Set up profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ in order to establish your online presence. Social media casts a wide net and gets you in front of people you may not otherwise meet. Employers often set up accounts on social media platforms as a means of recruiting and interacting with potential hires.
These five tips can get you started toward effective networking. Sometimes getting started is half the battle. Take time to form and enjoy relationships with contacts both new and old, and you will be well on your way toward finding that dream job.