How is your Career Network? By Jeri Hird Dutcher, WorkwriteResumes.com
Networking is key to career success!
Networking is not just a job search technique. Networking is a constant requirement of a career, any career.
Many of us used to believe that only sales and marketing needed to network because they represented the company to the world. The rest of us could just “do our job,” and not be bothered by the social aspects of the rest of the company. That is no longer true, and I’m not sure it ever was.
Our jobs have become temporary. We have multiple careers. We communicate cross-functionally. We move between industries and sectors. We market our talents and skills to co-workers, superiors, and a string of hiring authorities. What do all of these efforts have in common? Networking.
What is Networking?
Networking is simply the new term for “staying in touch.” It is THE single most effective way to stay on top of the job market. People who say they have never looked for a job in their lives are usually the ones who have a constantly active network. They remain open to opportunities, aware of who can put them in touch with others in their industry, curious about what others know and do. They ask questions, meet new people, and put their new contacts in touch with others. Rather than never searching for a job, they are always searching for a job.
Here are the steps to follow to keep your network active:
- Set your goal. Assume that you will be changing jobs at some point. Most of us land a job and become complacent. We pretend we will always have this job, even though we know that is not how the world works. Rather than falling into that trap, decide what you want your next move to be. Even better, have an idea of your career path. Think three or four moves down the road. From what position do you want to retire? Having that goal helps you keep a perspective on your current position as part of a larger plan rather than the only goal you had. As part of that intention, make a “watch list” of companies you might like to work for someday.
- Talk to people. That may seem simplistic, but it’s an often-ignored technique. Some of us get so busy working that we forget we work with other people. They are our No. 1 source of information. You don’t have to turn into the office gossip to stay aware of the undercurrents and politics. You do have to spend time with your co-workers and let them know the kind of information that interests you. That’s called establishing your brand. If you’re always talking about the newest technology, people will think of you when they hear about a new app.
- Join associations. Widen your circle to include people outside your office. Form relationships with others in your industry who may know of job opportunities. One great way to do that is through professional associations. You can also find people by joining community groups such as the Chamber of Commerce or service clubs such as Optimists, Rotary, Lions, or Sertoma. Churches and non-profits of all types usually need volunteers. LinkedIn offers virtual groups in which you can meet people, ask and answer questions, and form relationships.
- Stay connected. When you are reminded of a person, reach out to them. Would the person who talked about needing a new CRM enjoy the article you just read about the top 5 ways to organize client information? The really good networkers keep a list of people they have met and proactively contact each one periodically, just to catch up.
- Watch industry news. Stay on top of business news so that when companies on your watch list make a move, you know about it. A couple of good ways to do this is through industry newsletters and Google alerts.
- Stay ready. Connect with recruiters. Have an updated resume and cover letter handy at all times. Update your LinkedIn profile monthly and post industry-specific information at least weekly to show that you are on top of your game.
What are your networking tips and strategies? Share them with us!
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