No article on landing a job or switching careers is complete without a section on networking. There’s a good reason for that. Connections like those in a professional network are vital to landing a job. That’s because 70% of all jobs are not published publicly on jobs sites while most estimates are that 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections.
No question, plenty of job-searching tasks are onerous. Few people truly love updating their resume. Yet for some reason, networking seems to be the career-boosting activity that many people try to avoid. That’s a mistake. So even if you’re not actively looking for a new job, get into that motivated mindset as I cover how to build a professional network.
It’s What You Give
As Anders Ostlund, founder of the Fryday networking site explains, “Networking is a deliberate activity to build, reinforce, and maintain relationships of trust with other people to further your goals. Professional networking is simply networking focused on professional goals.”
Does networking seem needy? Do you feel like you’re demanding something? Switch up that thinking and start focusing on what you have to offer. You are valuable. Your knowledge and skill sets are unique. So seek out ways to add value to other’s lives. Post a blog. Teach an online course. Answer questions on Twitter. Offer helpful solutions to those who ask. Even just sending along a link to an informative article or giving them a referral can be enough to get you noticed. Remember, one goal of networking is to put your name at the top of their mental list. Doing these positive, outward reaching activities will begin to attract people who can also help you achieve your dreams.
Make a List. Check it Thrice
Maybe you aren’t sure who is in your network to begin with. So sit down and do some research. Then compile a list of all the people you want to connect with. If you want to know how to build a professional network, it starts with reaching out to the most people possible. No matter who you are or what you do, there will be people who don’t reply to your request. If you only have a handful of names, not getting a response will be more significant.
Get Out There
Networking involves face time –– either remote or in person. No matter what your focus, there are tons of conferences and get-togethers. There are meet-ups designed for your profession. Arrive ready to ask questions –– and most importantly, arrive ready to listen.
Be an Active Alum
Your university connections are invaluable. No question one reason people earn an MBA is for the network it creates. Yet if you aren’t active in your alumni association and aren’t reaching out to grads from your school, then you are definitely limiting yourself. If your community doesn’t have a chapter, start one. It’s a great way to meet new people who might already be in your neighborhood!
Put some time into LinkedIn. It’s a stellar resource not only to connect with people but to add value to their work as well. It’s a good place to post content and to reach out to alums, as well. You can also follow people you admire on Twitter and Instagram. Lots of helpful, even life-changing connections have occurred on these platforms.
Keep Up To Date
Set aside time to read about innovations in your field or successful members of your profession. If you love what you do, staying informed will make it easier to connect with your industry’s experts and decision makers. In other words, the people you need in your professional network.
Networking can free you from your comfort zone. The more energy you put into it, the more comfortable you will be with it.
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