Searching for the right job can be a really tricky prospect, and you can’t just expect to land the perfect one out of the blue; you need to be actively searching for it. Professional networking is perhaps one of the most reliable ways of finding the ideal job for yourself. It involves building up a web of relationships, made up of individuals that you can assist and in turn can assist you; this includes everyone from family, friends to friends-of-friends and business connections.
It’s important to understand that effective networking isn’t about begging for favours or merely exchanging pleasantries with each other. In essence, it’s the creation and fostering of long-term relationships, which in turn helps you develop your skillset, meet prospective employers, partners and more.
Still, despite all of its apparent advantages, most young workers tend to shy away from networking – at times feeling intimidated by its perceived broadness and complexity. Know that professional networking is a vital facet of continuous career growth and is something you should definitely be working on. To give you a bit more incentive, we’ve listed down a few ways that effective networking can help you land the perfect next job.
Getting your name out there
If you’re out there looking for a new job, it’s important to ensure that the right people are aware of this. Now, if you’re someone who has not yet started on building their professional network, don’t fret. Like we said, your network means everyone, friends and family too! Let them know that you’re searching, and if they know anywhere you might fit.
Sending your resume to certain targeted companies might seem like a reasonable prospect, but it’s a method that is losing its effect in today’s market. Why is that? Well, employers are far more concerned about retention rates these days, making personality and values almost as important as skills and competency. And of course, these can’t be evaluated via a resume alone.
On the other hand, if potential employers hear about you from someone within their professional network, they are likely to get a more detailed description. So, don’t be hesitant to ask someone to make an introduction, it’s a step towards landing a potentially great job and building up your own network.
You’re always open to opportunities
Finding the right people for your network is important, and it’s vital that you maintain these relationships once they have formed. Staying active on social media platforms, regular text or email conversations, or even an actual hangout; these are all ways for you to maintain a healthy network.
Offer congratulations when someone lands a new job or earns a promotion. It may seem like a trivial task, but it ensures that you occupy a space in their thoughts. This means that whenever they hear about an opportunity that fits you, they’ll let you know. The stronger the relationship, the more likely they are to identify something that’s tailored to you. And as your network gets bigger, the number of opportunities that get directed your way are only going to increase. Who knows, maybe your dream job will be one of those.
Access to career advice and expert opinions
As your network keeps expanding, you’re likely to get in touch with industry experts. These individuals not only provide you with the chance to add new skills to your repertoire but can provide you with some invaluable career advice. Take things a step further and you might get lucky and be introduced to some of their contacts.
Great career advice can come from discussions with your immediate peers too; mulling over common challenges and shared interests can result in valuable suggestions and genuine advice. It might help you understand what exactly it is that you’re looking for in your dream job; a bit of assisted self-reflection is never a bad thing. And this works both ways too, enabling the fostering of stronger relationships and a tighter-knit network overall.
Your network will keep expanding
If you have identified a particular job role or industry you want to work in, firmly entrench yourself in it – attend industry events, try volunteering, get in contact with instructors, join interesting discussions online. Engaging in these activities means that your network is going to start naturally expanding, and before you know it you’ll be dealing with a great big web of contacts, all interconnected with their own relationship dynamics.
Interestingly, it’s this final image that has a lot of budding networkers worried; the sheer expanse of a fully-fledged professional network seems impossibly complex. Understand that if your network is a complex, interwoven affair it’s a good thing.
Now, admittedly maintaining and keeping track of all these relationships can be a little tricky. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools you can utilise to keep track of everyone, and the dynamics of their relationships.
Visual customer mapping tools, like Stringboard, are perfectly suited for this task, allowing you to visually map out all of your contacts. This can help you better understand the nature of certain relationships, identify which ones need to be improved and who you should get in contact with when the need arises. With access to these kinds of software, the daunting task of maintaining your professional network becomes a lot easier.
With all that in mind, it’s clear that investing your time and effort into developing your professional network is a near-guaranteed way of finding your way to your dream job. Along the way, you’ll be picking up new skills, be privy to more opportunities and even make a few lifelong friends. It’s never too late to start networking!