Network your Way to the Top

Posted: 11.18.2015

Networking has always been a great way of finding out about job opportunities that you might otherwise not hear about. Some studies indicate that up to 80-90% of jobs are found through the hidden job market, so it's important to know how, when and where to network. Networking involves making contact with people and nurturing those relationships.

Here are a few tips to help you in your networking:

Always be networking: 

Most people only choose to start networking when they're looking for a new position. If you network continuously, when you begin to look for a change in employment it won't be something you need to switch on and off. Your network may pay off even when you're not expecting it.

Anyone can be part of your network

You don't need to be speaking to a President of a multi-national company to be able to network with people who can help you. Your network can consist of friends, family, relatives, previous and current associates, your hairdresser, banker or mechanic or former classmates or people you recently met at a party. The list can be large. Ask people who they know, and you will be surprised how your network can expand.

Give and you shall receive

If you let others know about job opportunities that would potentially be of interest to them when they least expect it, they may in return let you know of opportunities when you least expect it. Be sure to pass on any useful information to your contacts when you see something that may be beneficial to them.

Organize your network!

Organize your contacts so that you can stay in touch with them on a regular basis. With contact management systems that are affordable and easy to use, you should be able to stay in touch with your network on a regular basis quite easily, even if it's just wishing them the best during holiday periods.

Do what you say you will

By not contacting people if/when you say you will, you are sending a message that you're not very reliable. Following up is so easy to do, require a few minutes of your time and sends a very positive message about you.

Get others talking by asking questions

Don't fall in the trap of thinking that networking is telling others about you? Networking is about sharing information. If you're not comfortable talking, ask questions about the other person - their background, experience(s), what they like doing, etc. so a conversation will be easier to get started.

It's not just who you know

Your network consists of not just who you know, but also who your contacts know. Keep in mind that if you show you're willing to pass on names of people you know, others will do the same for you.

Build relationships

A relationship isn't created by meeting someone once. Stay in touch with people. Create a rapport with them.

Make yourself available

Go to Chapter meetings, volunteer or join networking groups. There is never a shortage of places where you can meet people - ask around and you will be amazed at places where there are great networking opportunities. Make the time to go to these events, but don't expect a lot the first time you meet someone. Like sales, most of the benefit of networking doesn't come in a first contact.

Thank people for referrals

Let people know the result(s) of their referrals, even if nothing happened. It sends a positive message that you are thankful for the referral.

Tips at networking events

When you go to networking events, some basics to keep in mind are:
  • Bring business cards.
  • Listen carefully to what others are saying.
  • Ask a friend to join you if you're uncomfortable attending alone.
  • Make eye contact with the person you're speaking with - don't keep looking at who is coming into the room.
  • Shake hands and smile.
  • Don't talk with your mouth full!
  • Don't fill your plate with appetizers at a reception.
  • Don't just meet one person and talk to that person the whole time….mingle.
  • Don't flirt or use off-color jokes! Conclusion
If you stay in your own circle, you'll limit your opportunities. However, by continuously expanding your network, you may be exposed to opportunities that you might never have imagined.

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