Business experts agree that the best way to find a job is through active and ongoing networking. The old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” definitely applies. In fact, surveys consistently show that networking is by far the most effective way to find a new job, outpacing every other form of job searching by a wide margin.
Not everyone is comfortable with networking. It means putting yourself out there and doing a bit of a sales job, and of course, what you are selling is you.
However, ultimately the rewards of networking make it worthwhile, given that it can put you on a more rewarding career path. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you network your way to a better job.
Delve Into Your Past
Networking is more effective if you explore not only your current contacts but your previous contacts as well. Talk to your college professors, your university classmates or past colleagues to see if they are aware of any openings in your field. They may know of something that fits you to a T.
Use Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms make it easy to drop a line to colleagues and friends. Send your contacts a private message, letting them know about your job search. Many of them will be more than happy to pass along helpful information that may help you land a job.
Don’t Be a Hermit
Networking requires you to be outgoing and gregarious. Attend professional and social functions in your chosen field. Join local chapters of professional organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of America or the American Society of Civil Engineers, in order to interact with individuals in your chosen field. Join local civic organizations and volunteer to help out local charities. Your networking efforts will be more successful if you are approachable and visible in your community.
Be Willing to Reciprocate
Networking is a two-way street. You tell friends and colleagues about opportunities that might work for them, and they will be willing to inform you of opportunities that will work for you. If you’re contacting them via a platform like LinkedIn, endorse their skills and expertise. Ask colleagues to write recommendations, and offer to write recommendations in return. When anyone helps you, be sure to say thank you.
Networking isn’t about immediate gratification. If you’re targeting a specific job or a specific company, your networking efforts may not bear fruit until months or even years down the line. Don’t get discouraged. Keep in touch with your networking contacts so that you can be made aware of the job opening before or immediately when it occurs, and then be prepared to dazzle your prospective employer with a first-class cover letter, resume, and job interview.
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