Have you thought about becoming an expert in networking, before you become an expert in networking?
Finding the correct job for you hinges on many factors: knowing what you want, setting your objectives, building the right skills set, and doing your homework—both figuratively and literally.
But you can also improve your chances of landing the killer contract by networking... with other people. The human network you build is a key component in creating a satisfying and dynamic career.
Linking in and Networking
Most career service experts will tell you the same thing. Social tools like LinkedIn are an increasingly important factor in your job search.
Not only does LinkedIn provide you with a means to showcase your skills, experience, and unique value proposition to prospective employers, it is also an amazing place to build out your professional network. Through your direct connections, groups, the option to follow and interact with thought leaders and brands, LinkedIn puts you in touch with others and gives you access to all kinds of opportunities to communicate, share, learn, and find career related opportunities.
You can use LinkedIn to connect with your peers and instructors online. But you can also use it to connect with interesting people that you meet at conferences, competitions, hackathons, mentoring activities, or internships. You never know when that one contact might just be the very person to connect you with the right opportunity.
5 Tips for Networking with Your Peers
As well as LinkedIn and online tools, it is important to look to your own peer group for opportunities to connect, network, and pool resources in your search for a dream job.
Here we have highlighted five solid reasons why your friends and peers should be your first port of call as you start to think about professional networking.
Nobody knows you better
Think about it. How often do you go to a friend for advice? You might be thinking about making a purchase, an investment, or maybe there’s a big decision you have to take. Who do you turn to besides your family?
Your friends know you. They understand your objectives and your background. Turning to friends for support in your job search is a way of harnessing that pool of knowledge and advice with your real interests at heart. And because they know you better than your non-peers.
You get real feedback on your goals and aspirations
Friends will be more direct with you about your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. What you might want to improve, develop, or act upon. And maybe even point out those opportunities that you might have missed.
Reflect on what you want
Why not ask a friend to sit down with you and listen to what you want out of your career? In an atmosphere of trust and friendship, use the time to explore your options and ask for feedback from someone who knows you are cares. And of course, be there for your friends when they ask the same questions of you.
Sharing is caring
When you are looking for the right job you will want to know the right people – and have them know you too. Your friends can support you here by putting you in touch with their own network – or even recruiters and head-hunters in they know any.
Checks and balances
And who better than a friend to check over your resume? Someone who has your best interest at heart is the best pair of fresh eyes to review your resume. And provide you with suggestions and ideas on how to convey your strengths.
5 Tips for Networking
So your mind is made up and you are ready to network. What next?
Well, we have rounded up another top five for you as you set about building your professional web.
Dig a little deeper
When you network with someone – be it a friend, a peer or a contact that you have met professionally – really take the time to get to know him or her better. Ask questions. Be curious. Be genuine. And gain a real sense of who they are. So that if you get to the point where you might need to reach out for help, you will not feel awkward about picking up the phone or sending that email.
It goes without saying, right? But be sure to have it top of mind. Always, but always treat your network with respect. If they do not feel respected by you, why will they bother to help you when the time comes?
Take and Give
Networking is never a one-way street. Remember that one good turn always deserves another. So be sure that you are as open to others as you expect them to be to you. If you see an opportunity or there is something you have that might help someone you know, reach out that helping hand.
At the end of the day, this is fundamental. Be clear about what you want. Communicate clearly how it is you believe someone can help. Don’t waste time talking vaguely about your plans – if you want help ask for it. And offer it. With respect.
Quality over quantity
And remember as you build up your network, you should be connecting positively with others. Having thousands of contacts on LinkedIn is meaningless unless there are solid relationships underpinning them.
Networking is not about obsessively connecting just in case. While it is true that you never know when opportunity might come knocking, and who it is that may help open the door, it is also true that unless you have a meaningful connection, you are just as likely to be wasting your time.
NetAcad Advantage Reading Note: Learn how to Leverage LinkedIn by watching a NetAcad webinar in which a LinkedIn representative gives a tutorial on how to maximize your experience. We also have a list of ten tasks for you to complete, when you set up your LinkedIn profile.