Effective networking is essential when it comes to landing your dream job. Who you know is almost as important as what you know. The right connection may be the thing that elevates you over other candidates. Effective networking is an essential part of career management and can help you build relationships to reach your dream job and help you move up the ladder during your career.
There is a right way to do effective networking; some skills take more practice than others. These tips help you develop and maintain the right networking skills.
Keep Your Circle Wide
You never know when a networking opportunity may arise. It can happen at a party, a child’s soccer game, or a work seminar. Because it can happen anywhere, developing and maintaining a professional demeanor that echoes your personal life is essential. As you stumble on conversations that become opportunities, consider that everyone you talk to could eventually be part of your network.
Don’t Make It About You
One of the best ways to show people you’re interested in them is to ask them questions about their life and career. As you do this, you’ll discover ways your lives intersect and pinpoint possible spots with fertile ground for growing a new relationship. When you are networking, avoid talking about yourself too much.
Effective networking is about developing relationships, not seeking ways to help yourself. As you develop these relationships, trust builds. At that point, the other person may be more willing to help you because they know you care about them as a person. Don’t treat all your connections as a networking opportunity; show interest in your network consistently rather than when you seek help to benefit you.
Take a Team Approach
A collaborative approach is vital in the process of networking. It is not just about what you can gain from the connection but how everyone can work together to improve a situation. Those with a team mindset are more successful at establishing and building trusting relationships.
Offer assistance and connection whenever you can. Share resources, make introductions, or help others overcome challenges. Consider your network as a circle rather than a straight path. What you do to help others will return to help you at some point in your career.
Rekindle Old Connections
There are times when networking is difficult and even maybe even impossible. If you work remotely, making connections with staff who work in an office can be challenging. Contact former colleagues to rekindle the relationship if your network has stalled or lulled. Ask questions about their current life and career and even meet in person to reconnect, if viable.
Consider these connections as you update your resume using a resume builder. If your connection list doesn’t feel fresh, maybe it’s time to reach out and do some networking. Never use a contact on a reference list you have not spoken to recently to ask for permission to be contacted.
Keep Competition Friendly
As you network, you meet people you may compete against for a job or a project. Rather than seeing these people as the enemy, view competition as a friendly way to improve your skills and abilities. Consider what skills this person has that you don’t and why they might be chosen for the role over you. Learn from the competition rather than resent it.
Acknowledge their wins and treat them as allies or potential collaborators. Networking is a win-win situation, as everyone can learn and share.
Develop Your Passions
One of the best ways to network is through professional organizations. Join these groups and attend their events. If you’re passionate about your job, don’t hesitate to show it! Seminars and conferences allow you to connect with those with similar interests, goals, and ideals.
Share the things you are passionate about in your personal life also. You may discover that the CEO of a company loves fishing as much as you do, or a hiring manager at your dream job loves your favorite book. Don’t be afraid to discuss what you enjoy; they are great ways to break the ice and build a connection outside the corporate world.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
If talking to strangers is hard for you, networking is the perfect way to develop that skill because your career provides common ground. Practice stepping out of your comfort zone and talking to others in your industry whenever possible. Be authentic and vulnerable when necessary. Remember that others probably have the same struggles, and be the first to approach a situation when you can.
As you step out of your comfort zone, you may have to create opportunities to network. In this situation, it means signing up for professional conferences, scheduling an activity with people in your network, or starting a conversation with someone in your field. If you don’t find networking activities, ask us at the Great Careers Groups for ideas!
Be Approachable and Authentic
Make other people comfortable around you, including those in entry-level positions. Share your knowledge without overpowering conversations. Offer opportunities to help without boasting about your connections. People react to authenticity and approachability; even something as simple as smiling can give them the confidence to approach you.
Create a Deeper Connection
The best connections are those that become important to both parties. Demonstrate empathy to create a welcoming, safe environment for honest and open communication. Listen actively, try to understand feelings and reactions, and share your feelings. Build a foundation for a long-term relationship and become a trusted networker through empathy and understanding.
Take Advantage of Volunteer Opportunities
Help in your community when you can. Donate your time and energy and meet people who aren’t part of your industry. Expand your social network and meet others who share your values or passions.
Networking can be a beneficial process for all parties involved when it’s done right. You’ll reap the rewards if you focus on the relationship rather than the possible benefits.