The main purpose of networking is to build meaningful relationships and foster a real connection with others. Although it is sometimes perceived as awkward and cumbersome, it is necessary in all aspects of your professional career. You may be surprised to find you already have an established network, you just need to find the ways to further build those relationships. The following tips are ways you can find those connections and further expand your current network.
1. Take Advantage of Your Personal Network
Utilizing your personal network is the easiest way to start forming relationships, because it reduces the number of barriers between you and a certain organization or role you are interested in. Family, friends, and colleagues can personally attest to your skills and character, so they are more willing to introduce you to someone in their network and help along the way. Additionally, a recruiter or hiring manager is more likely to seek a relationship if you share a mutual connection. Don’t underestimate the size of your network, as it is most likely much larger than you initially think.
2. Tap into Your School’s Alumni Database
If you are looking for additional resources to utilize, your alumni network is an advantageous resource to tap into. Similar to maximizing resources through your personal network, alumni are just as eager to give advice to help you succeed, since you share a solid foundation of experiences to build a strong connection. Additionally, if a hiring manager asks an alumni about your qualifications, it is easier for them to vouch for your skills and integrity, given your shared educational background. It is never too early to start working with your alumni, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
3. Get In Touch With a Recruiter
Recruiters are a great resource to have because they can be advocate for you when talking with a potential employer. The job search and interview process can be overwhelming, so it is great to have a recruiter by your side and alleviate some stress. If there are positions that match your skills and experiences, they will make sure to introduce you to a variety of people and opportunities, as well as get your name out there. If you have never worked with a recruiter before, here are ways to introduce yourself to one.
4. Reach Out Through Social Media
A study conducted by Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency, suggests that the average person will spend more than five years of their total lifetime on social media. Since most of us visit social networking sites on a daily basis, it is time to use these platforms to our advantage. Communication through social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter serve as vast avenues to pursue professional relationships. Use these virtual connections you’ve already established as a way to reach out to a wider range of individuals and potentially conduct face-to-face meetings.
5. Attend Professional Events
Attending speaker series, conferences, and joining professional organizations are great ways to not only increase your professional development, but to also encourage more focused networking efforts. There is no better way to immerse yourself in a concentrated environment of people that share the same interests and goals. Connections at professional events may lead to opportunities to meet and speak with industry leaders that possess an impressive network. These events may seem intimidating at first, however the potential to form substantial relationships outweighs the nerves you may feel getting started.
6. Conduct Informational Interviews
Once you’ve established certain connections in your network, a useful next step is to set up informational interviews. Conducting an informational interview is a great way to learn more about an employer and the recruiting process in a less formal setting. This is a valuable opportunity to expand your network because you are gaining information and fostering a relationship, not just asking for a job or interview. In the long run, informational interviews help recruiters keep you at the top of their minds when a position at the company opens up. Here are ways to initiate and conduct a successful informational interview, if you are unsure about where to start.
Networking is crucial in all aspects of your career, so ensure that you are building meaningful relationships with the people in your growing network. The stronger the relationship is built, the more likely you’ll be in mind for multiple companies and roles. Applying a combination of various networking avenues guarantees that you are maximizing your current resources and doing your best to get your name out there.
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