The most successful people in the world are constantly networking. Having a good network is essential for your professional and personal success. As you already know most jobs are not listed on the Internet but through word of mouth referrals. That is why networking is the best way to find a job. As a hiring manager, I prefer interviewing candidates that came from referrals rather than through the other sources that we utilized. Networking with others can lead you to uncover jobs and opportunities that you did not even know existed. Knowing the right people will help open doors and make introductions for you that you would not be able to do otherwise. Your network of friends, family members, colleagues, and acquaintances is one of the most valuable job search resources you have. What I discovered is that most people don’t understand the importance of networking and how to use it effectively. Today, I want to talk about a few things that you can do to build and maintain a strong network.
1. Best time to network is when you already have a job.
It is important to always network whether you have a job or not. Most people think about networking when they are out of work. I think this is too late. You should always network with people. Nowadays with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. it is so easy and effortless. It just requires a few hours a month but can be extremely rewarding. For example, if your colleague tells you about a great recruiter he is using, it doesn’t hurt to give this recruiter a call to make a quick introduction. You just never know if this encounter will lead to a potential job opportunity in the future. Each time you make a connection with someone, you are also indirectly tapping into their network as well.
2. Keep those relationships from getting cold.
Maintaining your network is just as important as building it. Your network is useless if you don’t cultivate it. I frequently go out to lunches, make calls or send friendly emails to my colleagues giving them a status of my work situation. Depending on how close I am to them, this can occur once a month or every other month. Make a point to remember their birthdays so that you can send them an email or give them a call. You don’t have to have a reason to connect with them. All you are doing is keeping in touch with them with no other agenda or motive. I jot down notes from our conversations so that I can use it the next time we speak. For example, if I know their spouse is going to have a baby soon, I will ask questions about that next time we talk. When you have a good relationship with someone they are more likely to help you when you need something. By continually keeping in contact with the people you know, you will establish a strong network.
3. Offer to help others.
Networking is a two-way street. When you meet with your friend/colleague, find out what is happening with them. Always look for ways to help them advance their career or personal goals. The most successful networkers are constantly looking for ways to help the people in their network. It feels good when you can be of service to other people. They will appreciate it and will look for ways to help you in return.
4. Become a member of professional associations.
There are so many organizations and user group meetings that you can join to further your career. The great thing about going to these meetings is that you get a chance to meet people that you would normally never encounter. It gives you an amazing opportunity to expand your network. When you attend these meetings, be an active contributor. You should offer to speak at these meetings or help in anyway. Participate in the meetings so that people know who you are.