Whether you are actively looking for a new job, have no immediate plans to change jobs, or are simply poking your head out to see what is out there, building your network is vital to your career advancement.
The professional climate can change as quickly as an autumn day in the Northwest and the more people you have in your network, the easier it will be to “weather the storm.” Below are 10 important steps you can take to ensure you will not be left in the cold the next time you find yourself looking for a new career opportunity.
Always network – Successful Networking is a skill that should be developed over time and constantly. It is not something you should do only when you need something.
Have an elevator pitch – Develop a 30 to 60 second script that best describes you, your current situation, and what you are looking for.
Broadcast your message – If you are actively looking for a job, deliver your “elevator pitch” to everyone you meet or already know. They might not be able to help you directly, but their network of people may lead you toward the next step in your career. Try spreading your message through social networks and email as well.
Maintain your relationships – It is easy to invite people to join your network on LinkedIn but it is a lot more challenging to maintain contact with them. Make time in your schedule to stay in touch. If you only connect with your contacts when you need something, they are less likely to help you when you need it most.
Build your network – Keep building your network. Join a LinkedIn user group, contact an EdgeLink recruiter, or seek out a recommendation or introduction from one of your existing contacts.
Be generous –Giving without the expectation of receiving something in return is an excellent way to build your network—and it feels good! Find what is important to members of your network and assist them when it is at all possible.
Show your face – Sometimes you will not feel like it, but afterward, will usually be glad you did… Force yourself to get out and go to networking events. There are tons of local user groups, MeetUps and groups on LinkedIn that sponsor monthly networking events.
Meet other connectors – It is not necessarily how many people you know, but rather knowing the right people that can help you get connected. Focus on developing quality relationships, especially people who know lots of other professionals.
Manage your expectations – Networking is a lifelong skill that develops with time and effort. You may not see a direct effect from networking immediately. If you maintain your connections, over time, your chances of benefiting from those relationships will be far greater.
Stay positive – Perhaps the most important thing you can control when networking is your attitude. Looking for a job can be frustrating and can wear you out. People are naturally drawn to positive energy and enthusiasm and are less likely to respond and help if you appear frustrated and negative. Find ways to regain balance and maintain perspective so you can keep a smile on your face.
One Final Shortcut to Successful Networking
Successful networking is like a 401k plan – the earlier you start, the better off you will be. So what are you waiting for? Put yourself out there and begin building your network today!