Many people believe that networking will be the single most-effective method of advancing your career. Most employers use informal and personal methods of identifying employees and think those methods result in good hires.
- Build on Your Informational Interviews
- Tips for Increasing Your Networking Success
- Network through Professional Associations
- Connect Online
When you begin your job search, inform your informational interview contacts and any other contacts that you’re now looking for a position. Enlist their support and ask them about available opportunities. At this stage, always ask, “If you hear of an opening, would you please let me know?” Ask if they will keep your resume/CV on hand to refer when they hear of opportunities. Ask again for referrals to other people you could contact.
- Be courteous and express your appreciation for others’ time and information.
- Ask for job leads and information, not a job.
- Arrange face-to-face meetings whenever possible.
- Use affiliations such as professional organizations and other memberships to enhance your networking.
- After interviews, write brief notes thanking the individuals for their time, stating what information you gained and how you will use it.
- Keep a record of the informational interviews you conduct, noting the leads you obtain and what follow-up is necessary.
- Let your contacts know the outcome of your job search.
- Stay in touch over time to continue to build your network for the future.
Professional associations are a great avenue for networking in your field. They bring employers and job seekers together, benefiting employers because they reach people with specific educational and career backgrounds.
Through meetings, online forums, and newsletters, you can build new personal networks with association members. These networks can get you introduced to potential employers, bypassing frequently impersonal and unresponsive processes on employers’ websites. They also can give you access to positions before they become widely advertised.
Many professional associations publish timely information, often online, on careers in their field. This material allows you find out about employment trends, emerging and changing positions, salaries, preferred skills, and work styles—making you competitive in the job market.
At association conferences, you may find positions advertised. Some even host placement activities, such as screening interviews. You can sign up to volunteer at conferences to work closely with people who may be good contacts. Some associations have mentor programs where you may be assigned a mentor.
Social networking sites like LinkedIn can be great networking tools. Instead of sending out generic invitations to “connect,” create customized messages for people you want to communicate with. Decide why you are connecting with this person. Because you want more information on their company? Their career path? Are you looking for regional or industry-specific information? Ask questions and take the lead. Find out if you can do something for them in return.
Where do I go for E-Networking?
Professional associations, alumni organizations, and other online communities are good places to e-network. Check out links on sites relevant to your field for e-networking leads.
How do I network online?
Develop an email template for your e-networking. Include how you found that person, your common areas of interest, and a request for further information, such as information about a particular industry. Also, share something about yourself.
Advantages of e-networking over traditional networking:
- E-networking does not require an introduction from a primary contact.
- E-networking usually gets immediate responses if recipients are interested in you.
- Everyone on the Internet is accessible.
- Many sites sponsor networking circles and events where you can meet your contacts in person.
- Cast a wide net because you do not have a personal introduction to pave the way. It can be difficult to tell if someone will be a good contact, so make your initial efforts large, and then scale back.
- Identify yourself properly. Do not use an alias or any other pretense that might make someone uncomfortable networking with you. People who are networking for business will respond accordingly.
- Follow standard business courtesy. Use a tone somewhere in between a formal business letter and a casual note. Make your communications friendly but respectful. Do not use any acronyms or commonly used abbreviations (e.g., lol).
- Bookmark your favorite sites.