Network. Network. Network. From your college professors to your mentors and parents, everyone says you should network your way to a job. But what does networking really mean? And, how do you stand out at a networking event, especially in an oversaturated job market? The thing is, many people spend so much time focused on increasing their skillset that they fail to make the time to develop strong professional relationships—which are key for career advancement.
While college may prepare you to be job-ready, building extraordinary relationships can help you land your dream job. Here are a few other things no one tells you about networking:
Networking isn’t just about your job search – In fact, networking isn’t solely about what you can get; it’s about what you can give. It’s about finding ways to add value to your relationships.
Take action – Create a professional networking plan which can include monthly goals around establishing relationships with influencers, experts, and industry insiders, in and outside of the workplace. Think, ‘How can I help this person?’ Can you do a virtual introduction for them? Can you recommend them for a speaking engagement or award? These simple yet thoughtful gestures can help you build long-lasting connections.
Networking includes learning about people beyond their job description – People love flattery, but the key here is to go beyond complimenting them about their appearance. Thanks to the Internet, most of us are aware of who will be in attendance at an event, so do your homework beforehand to learn more about their passion project, family life, and core values.
Take Action- Although LinkedIn is a great way to learn about a person’s industry, role, and responsibilities, social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can really give you some insight into what people love or the things that frustrate them. This is a great way to start a conversation and, believe it or not, it can help reduce your networking anxiety. So make yourself memorable, relatable and likable by being prepared to continue the conversation about something they’ve shared or discussed online.
Networking isn’t limited to conferences, trade shows, meetups or in-person events – Nowadays, networking can occur beyond the traditional four walls. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter Chats and Webinars, are all great virtual places to network. And don’t underestimate non-traditional places to network such as the golf course, gym or even on an airplane.
Take Action – Remember schmoozing with people online or in person isn’t a one-time thing. Each week, think, ‘How can I support my online network?’ You can like, comment, and share their articles. Engage your followers in conversation. Ask for feedback or show support by attending their webinars, Twitter chats or Periscope events. Meet someone on a plane? Follow up and share an article that might pique their interest.