No doubt you have heard the famous saying ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’. As a jobseeker this can be incredibly frustrating as we feel hard done by when someone’s skills and knowledge of the role isn’t what’s responsible for them achieving a job. This leads us to another cliché: ‘If you can’t beat them, join them!’ By taking the time to establish and expand your network, you can build strong relationships with people who will help you to progress in your career. For jobseekers and those who are looking to enhance their career, here are four tips to make sure you network effectively.
1. Plan of Action
Before you plunge into the deep end and start contacting everyone you know, make sure you’re aware of what exactly you want to achieve through your networking efforts. Are there particular people you need to target that will significantly help you to achieve your career goals? How will you achieve these goals? Furthermore, you will need to think of a strategy for meeting your targeted people and establish how you’re going to develop these relationships. It’s worth taking the time to answer these questions to ensure your network will be truly beneficial to your career development.
2. Focus Your Search
Although it’s great to expand your network, if you do so with people who are very loosely if at all related to your field of work or by attending events unrelated to your career path, then this will not allow your network to reach its full potential. By targeting specific events you can ensure the people you meet will share similar career goals and interests, therefore it’s more likely that they’ll be able to help you succeed. In addition, you will be a more relevant contact for the people you meet thus they will be more encouraged to swap details so they can broaden their network.
3. Online Opportunities
The internet has had an incredible impact on networking as it has made it possible for you to connect with people from across the globe at the click of a button. The best site to use for this is LinkedIn as it’s a more professional networking site. Once you have established contacts online you can then develop relationships by setting up meetings or even Skype calls so you can exchange business tips. Again make sure you’re specific when it comes to targeting people and companies to follow so you can establish a successful network.
4. Follow Up
Plucking up the courage to put yourself out there and connect with people may have felt like the hard part, but the challenge with networking is to maintain and strengthen the relationships that you form. This is why it’s so important to make sure you actually exchange contact details at any event you attend and follow up the introductions you made with a phone call or email. If you continue to keep in touch with those in your network, not just when you desperately need them, then the relationships you develop will be much more sincere. For instance you’re more likely to want to help someone who has kept in touch and attempted to form a friendship, rather than someone who has ignored you until they needed your help.
Networking is important throughout your career therefore it’s worth your while to ensure you can do so effectively. By following the four tips above you can give your network the best chance of succeeding and this can lead to many opportunities presenting themselves as you progress along your career path. Of course you will need the skills and knowledge to secure a job, but expanding your network so you know more people in your line of work will only increase your chances of achieving your career goals.
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