Did you know that 80% of job openings are never posted? Many employment opportunities are communicated and secured through networking. Professionals often find clients and customers within their network. A network is a group of people who exchange ideas, information, and contacts. Networking involves adding people to your own personal network and interacting with them.
You already have a network of your family, friends, and classmates. You should be adding to that network and maintaining relationships. Networking is the best way to pursue and acquire a career. However, career advancement is not the purpose of networking; it is a byproduct. The purpose of networking is two-fold: building relationships and acquiring information.
General Networking Tips
1. Remain Prepared. Always have an updated resume, business cards, and an interview outfit with you or saved somewhere so you can access them quickly when needed. Dress for the job that you want. To dress most appropriately, research the company culture before showing up to an interview.
2. Know who you are. Take self-assessments, such as FOCUS 2, and join groups (including online groups) where you can interact with people who have similar interests or have been successful in the area you are pursuing. Prepare a sixty second “elevator pitch” in which you can quickly explain who you are and what your goals are.
3. Volunteer. Volunteer positions are generally easy to obtain and a great place to build connections. Relationships develop naturally while working toward a common goal. Volunteerism allows you to do many things at once- meet new people, gain experience, and make a positive contribution to a cause you believe in.
4. Be intentional about meeting people and staying in touch. Take a genuine interest in those around you. Understand that networking is a way of life, not an activity. Value yourself, and regardless of their perceived usefulness, keep in mind that everyone has intrinsic value. No one should be slighted or ignored. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, invite someone to coffee or lunch, and ask questions.
5. Express gratitude. Extend your thankfulness and continue communication by writing a personal thank you note. Personable and relationally rich actions give honor and respect to other people. Buy simple thank you notes or make letterhead that you can use constantly.
In Person Networking vs. Online Networking
Networking is the best way to pursue and acquire a career. However, career advancement is not the purpose of networking.
The purpose of networking is two-fold (1) Relationships and (2) Research.
In Person networking is primarily for the development of relationships face-to-face and secondarily for researching someone's opinion about a career field.
Online networking is primarily for researching vast information about a career field and secondarily for connecting to people at varying depths of relationship without the bounds of geography and time.
The common connection between networking in person and networking online is people.