How many times do you say to yourself that you need to meet more people? That your circle of influence and visibility within professional community needs to be strengthened? Your career requires you to network and in today’s marketplace you must be more active than ever. Whether you are looking to connect with the leaders from different industries to exchange the ideas to grow professionally at your current organization or changing your career path, networking is a valuable and powerful resource to achieve your targets. But networking requires time investment and planning. An approach that is strategic and measurable; that you can learn from each time you introduce yourself to a new contact or get back in touch with an old one.
This is about building relationships and connections in a purposeful, organized way and not about quickly acquiring names of people just to get a job. Think about professional brand you would like to project while networking. Where to look for professional contacts? Visiting specific industry Events (conferences, round tables and other meetings), being a member of professional associations, reading specialized magazines, getting in touch with professional alumni associations, etc. Once you have met interesting contact, this is important to maintain the relations – this can be done both off-line and online. To get started, send a follow-up email with a link to an article, event or presentation that tells about something they were interested in. Reconnect at lunch, invite them to another networking event, or get connected online via LinkedIn or Twitter.
In parallel you can build your network connecting with new people on-line. When you invite a connection to LinkedIn, always customize your connection requests with a personalized note. It can be a reminder of where you met or what organization you have in common or you can refer to a mutual friend. When it comes to how many LinkedIn connections you should have, the starting number to see if it is really working is 50. Reaching 50 helps you take better advantage of extended relationships, which are second- or third-degree connections.
Networking is not just about who you know; it’s about who knows you. Stay on other people’s radar screens by updating your LinkedIn status. You can attach a link to your blog or presentation so that it keeps your profile dynamic. LinkedIn proposes a big number of professional, where you can share your point of view or ask for advice.
Use Twitter to start a conversation with people in your targeted industries. Start following industry leaders (both companies and individuals) or other users in your line of work. Comment on their tweets or ask a question through one of your own tweets. You’ll learn more and keep up with the latest news. Think to create specific professional Twitter account as a part of your professional brand. Joining online conversations helps you keep up-to-date on the industry, meet helpful contacts, and showcase your expertise in your field.
What is the importance of a network in a job search? Statistics say that 65 to 85 % of jobs are found through networking. Therefore it should be the focus of about 80 % of your search time.
Leverage social media for job-hunting whether on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Let your friends and followers know that you’re looking for a job. Even better, tell them what type of job you’re looking for. They may not know of any openings right now, but if they know you’re available, they’ll think of you when a position opens up. That will helps you hear about openings before they’re listed on job boards. Use Status Update, getting LinkedIn recommendations from your colleagues and recommendations from your direct ex-manager highlighting your strengths would be a great asset.
Before you submit your resume, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds’ are gold mines of information on individuals. Knowing more about the person who’s hiring can help you tailor your cover letter to their needs.
And think about building your network before you need it. Don’t wait when the times are tough to develop your connections!