Networking is an important part of career success, whether it’s to learn more about your current field, a field you’d like to go in to, during your job search, or when you’re moving along the career ladder.
Most people will look to their network when a job opportunity is available to see if they know any potential candidates. Here are some ideas on who you can network with and how:
Who to Network With?
- Colleagues, mentors, supervisors, employees, classmates, teachers - past or present
- Connect with professionals in many fields, not just where you are now
- Vendors, consultants, recruiters – past or present
- Personal network – family, friends, friend’s family
- Your doctor, lawyer, accountant
- Social acquaintances in your day-to-day, non-work life – from volunteering to members of your gym to other parents at your kid’s school
Now that you have considered who your current network could be made up of, you can work on creating new contacts for different purposes within your career or future needs. Here are a few different tips for how to make new contacts, and where to find them:
- One of the best ways to find new contacts for your network is still face-to-face interactions. If you find yourself going to a conference for work, make sure to strike up conversations with those that may be presenting information that you find interesting or useful. Business meetings to introduce yourself to new colleagues that could help when you may need advice or career guidance in the future.
- Attend fundraising events in your field of interest or find ways to volunteer to meet people and broaden your network. If attending alone isn’t getting you the connections you want, try to bring a friend along. They can help you feel more comfortable and confident and fill in the gaps if there’s a lull in the conversation. You both can benefit by having the other there.
How to Network?
- Invest time in keeping in touch with your network; you may not need their help now, but want to make sure you can reach out to them when you do
- Create a LinkedIn profile and keep it updated. This is a platform for you to connect to those in your network, find new connections, and promote your personal brand through posting.
- Follow up with contacts you meet as soon as you can to build a rapport and show that you’re available to them.
- Try to socialize with other attendees at an event. Set a goal to introduce yourself to three people to start.
- Evaluate your current network and see if there are gaps to fill for where you want your desired career path
- Remember that networking is a two-way street and isn’t all about what you need
Networking should be a continual process of building connections, and always trying to broaden the type of people that you know. It’ll be easier in those times when you do need guidance or help from someone, and you’ll be able to give the same in return. Networking is an important part of career success, whether it’s to learn more about your current field, a field you’d like to go in to, during your job search, or when you’re moving along the career ladder.