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The Benefits of Networking

Apr 28, 2016, 08:51 AM by Kathleen Kontos

Wisely utilizing your present network and going out of your way to make new connections with people is just one approach to job hunting. While it is common to feel uncomfortable with networking, by following through with the right mindset and manner you gain many advantages. Your networking experience can be more than just meeting people. Read more to find out why you should add networking to the list of things you do as a job seeker and learn a few tips on how to make the most of it.

Networking Benefits:

Going above and beyond the page.

Meeting people and expanding your social circle is a lot more productive and meaningful over time than sifting through print and media advertisements. Likewise, you can pace yourself while proactively job seeking. Through the people you meet and connect with you have access to job leads and opportunities. You may learn information that are yet to be announced or about openings that are primarily passed through word of mouth. In fact, your desired job may not even be advertised. It reduces your competition as there will be a smaller pool of candidates in comparison to job listings which will draw a number of applicants. Opportunities may also pop up without prior warning through referrals, association or requests.

From person to person.

Remember, efficient networking isn't about how many business cards you pass out or the number of hands you shake at an event. Networking is about developing and cultivating a connection beyond surface level exchanges. With sincere intent to professionally or personally relate to another, you gain an ally who will keep you in mind and speak up when an opportune circumstance arises. People primarily will do business with people they know or like. Your likeliness of an introduction, being referred or recommended increases. Resumes and cover letters are impersonal and initiating a cold call can be nerve-wracking. Having the support of someone you know will always make the job search easier.

Develop your growth and outward impression.

Regularly attending events and effective networking can also help you to work on the image you show to others over time, give you visibility and allow you exposure. You can expand your contacts and increase your likelihood of being noticed through the many opportunities to make a good impression. Aside from raising your own profile at events, you put yourself in a position to utilize and hone your interpersonal skills. You can work on increasing your confidence and your output.

Tap into a source of inspiration and encouragement.

Connecting with friends, family or associates on business and individual time allow you to strengthen your relationships. Your network are your contemporaries. Surrounding yourself with people of similar drive and ambition can boost your own energy and determination. Networking is a two way process. You can assist others and perhaps receive assistance in return. However, be genuine in your offer for help and not only because you believe you will receive a favor in return. As previously noted, you can find support and reassurance with the company of your contacts.

Inexpensive access to invaluable information.

Your contacts can also be great mentors to you. You have the opportunity to delve into a well of collective knowledge where advice, insight and fresh ideas are exchanged. With your friends, family and associates you are able to discuss challenges from different perspectives. Also, you can receive feedback and guidance to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes. Networking allows you to have access to a wide variety of intelligent people who have countless experiences of their own to share and learn from.

Networking Tips:

Set clear goals.

With a goal, whether long-term or short-term, it is easier to track your trajectory and success. They can be simple goals like meeting a specific person, regularly attending events, exchanging cards with a certain amount of people or connecting with someone related to your intended field. Your networking experience will be more effective when you have a target or career goal. Contrary to belief, you won't have better luck in your job search if you open yourself to all possibilities. A generic request weakens your impression and makes you forgettable. Asking for specific information or leads can help your contact understand your own goals and make you an easier focus. Figure out what you want before you start while being flexible and opportunistic in the right circumstances.

Networking includes everyone you meet and know.

Your network is bigger than you might initially believe. Along with professional contacts, your personal connections are also a part of your network including friends, immediate family, long distance relatives, colleagues and acquaintances. Your associates and relations are connected to their own network. Although the links weaken down the chain, you have the option of taking advantage of both strong and weak ties even if you're just asking for career advice or perspective. Not everyone will have a job opening for you, but don't let that stop you from reaching out and being genuine in getting to know them. Introduce yourself to people. Meet a friend of a friend. Catch up with a former coworker. Initiate a conversation with your neighbor. You may never know where it will lead you. However, wait on contacting more distant people if you have not yet set clear goals.

A place to start is with your references. They are people who especially like you enough to attest to your personality and endorse your abilities. If you are a job seeker, then you should already have professional and personal references on hand. Contact them to ask about possibilities or people they may know.

Take a step back to evaluate every once in a while.

Assess your current network for its weaknesses and strengths. Are your contacts honest about marketing the real you? Do they challenge you and give you the support you need? Most importantly, how well do they represent your goals, background and skills? It is important to know where you stand to understand whether or not your network are hurting your chances and impression. Be conscious of your needs and manage your contacts wisely.

Focus on building relationships.

Although you have the ability to reach out to anyone within your network and beyond, be aware that networking isn't about piling on the numbers. Be authentic in pursuing what you want but simultaneously make an effort to refresh or establish a connection. Networking is about making a link through a common thread and developing it. Find a way to relate to others, not just to get a favor. Share information as well as ask questions. Most importantly, if you mean well and do not want to be viewed as using them, ask for advice not a job. A random, straightforward request will pressure both yourself and your contact. Be specific, considerate and respectful of other people. You can make maintaining and nurturing your existent relationships a lifestyle. Schedule time aside to allow that to happen.

Use effective communication skills.

Going in hand with sharing information and fostering your connections, make it work by being a desirable conversation partner and an attentive listener. When you ask a question, pay attention and follow up with questions and nonverbal cues. Offer relevant details about yourself, but listen more than you talk. Show genuine interest in your profession and the advice of professionals. After a networking event or reconnecting with someone, contact them through email or perhaps social media if it is someone you personally know to schedule another meeting date. Make connecting with your contacts consistent, about every six months, without being too pushy.

Preparation can help.

With enough preparation, even if you feel uncomfortable and know you are bad at socializing with others you have something to fall back on. Prepare everything that you can. If you are attending an event, research which companies will be there and learn more about the ones that interests you. Look up the people who will be giving presentations. You can prepare conversation starters, take notes and practice. With the right effort you can help yourself to look more confident than what you may feel.

Connect with a recruiter.

Recruiters have access to a wide networking base including the hiring managers and representatives of the Human Resources department at several different companies. They know what's available and are there to recommend you if they see that you are a fit for an opening. Along with the resources you will have access to are resume and interview tips that they can give you. You can work with as many recruiters as you can at no cost to you. While you're at it, learn how to make the most of working with a recruiter here.

Have patience.

Building your network, your relationships, your image and your social skills take time. Don't rush it. Everything won't happen overnight so relieve your anxiety by not putting that expectation on yourself and your contacts. In the meantime, make yourself visible and present. Enjoy the process as much as you can.

Surprisingly, or not, a majority of people land their jobs through networking. Efficient networking, even if on a small scale, is worth the effort. If you are afraid to be viewed as annoying, assertive or self-serving, remember that networking at its core should be predominantly about getting to know other people. Participate in an activity that will open doors and is vital to your growth and career advancement. Work on building your network today.

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