Have you ever heard the cliche “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” That expression couldn’t be truer when it comes to job searching where an estimated 60-70% of new roles are found through networking.
Ready for another platitude? “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” is also very applicable to jobs…and networks. An important lesson many people learn when starting a job search is the value of their network, and often, how they have failed to proactively keep it fresh. We all vow to not let ours get stale, but it’s easy to put networking aside when you’re busy.
In order to continue growing your career, though, you need a strong network. It won’t come as a surprise then, that our advice is to work as hard as possible to grow your network now so you can tap into its power and value during good times and bad.
Make Time for Networking
Most people give the same reasons for not keeping up their network. “Life is busy. My calendar is full. My home life is hectic!” The best advice may be the most straightforward: carve out time for professional networking.
Your network is only as good as the time you are willing to devote to its creation and care. And, by utilizing technology, you can spend as little as ten minutes a week effectively staying in touch with your contacts.
Be a Thought Leader
Being a thought leader lets people know that you are active, motivated, inspired and have ideas and experiences to share. Comment on LinkedIn posts or articles in publications you respect. Create a Twitter profile and share things that interest you.
We are all well rounded; it is not all business all the time. Help people deepen their knowledge of you by getting to know your opinions, areas of interest (both personally and professionally), the causes you support, hobbies, etc.
And while it’s important to be authentic, remember to be careful when expressing opinions about controversial subjects; a potential employer may be reading.
Take a Personal Inventory
Once you have decided to take the time to grow your network, a personal inventory is a great place to start. First, think back over your career. What meaningful relationships have you developed? List all those people and ensure you are still connected with them professionally, even if just on LinkedIn. Take a 360-degree approach considering your peers and those above and below you over time. Remember, some of the people you once managed may be hiring managers now.
And, don’t forget classmates, vendors and professional relationships. Make a goal of reaching out to one person a week that you haven’t stayed in contact with. In addition to revitalizing your network, you’ll re-establish lost connections and be able to reminisce over shared experiences.
Meet New People
Social networks are great, but they can be a passive networking tool. Meeting new people face to face, or over a video call, is a must. Attend in-person and online networking events. You can find dedicated business networking venues or personal network venues via sites like Meetup and Eventbrite. The line between social and professional networking is constantly blurring, and you should start wherever you feel comfortable.
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