Career networking is a relationship-building tool for job seekers to uncover job leads. Here are the top five rules of effective professional networking.
According to a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs in the United States aren’t listed but found through networking. However, do you really know how to execute effective professional networking to your advantage?
It is a no-brainer that most people associate networking with calling everyone you know and asking them for a job. This often comes out as being overbearing and too pushy. Moreover, some other people would shy away from networking as they wouldn’t want to be labeled as that type of a person.
Since networking remains one of the most effective methods to land a gig or find work, it is critical to learn how to execute the skill properly.
Whether you wish to make contact through social media, cold calling, or interacting with professionals during events, here are the top five guidelines to enable you to ensure that your networking efforts yield positive results.
But before that, let’s first highlight a few reasons why networking is essential for every job seeker:
- Networking increases the visibility of your brand
- It opens you up to opportunities that you may have otherwise not heard of.
- It helps you think out of the box and to be in the know of the latest trends
- Effective networking boosts your empathy and communication skills
Let’s now dive into the five rules of effective professional networking:
1. Be interested in who you’re talking with
Effective professional networking means that you don’t make the meeting all about you, but show some interest in the person you’re talking to. One of the best ways to build a relationship with them is by finding common ground and asking them open-ended questions.
Asking people questions gets them talking ‒ and it is clear many like to talk about themselves. Furthermore, being inquisitive is actually helpful to those who find it challenging to open up in social circles. You simply ask questions, then pause. This takes the attention away from you as you listen intently and hopefully pick up pieces of helpful information.
2. Make a powerful impression
Always know what you’re going to say before you initiate a conversation while networking. What would you like to ask them? What do you want them to know about you after the conversation? What is your end goal?
Depending on how you’re interacting with the network ‒ whether through online media or physical meetings, you should have a game plan in motion.
If using virtual media, such as social media or cold calling, you should strive to let the other party know you and why you are reaching out to them in as few words as possible. Your contact will appreciate your brevity, focus, and preparation as you reach out to them, making it easier for them to connect you with key referrals.
3. Exchange contacts
Another key factor to consider when networking is that you should not leave without exchanging contacts with the other parties. This generally involves swapping business cards, exchanging phone numbers, or following each other on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.
One important thing to not forget during physical networking is a pen and a pocket for cards. Soon after the meeting, you can write something memorable about the person on their card, such as where you met. This will help jog your memory in case you forget who that individual was.
4. Follow up
It would be pointless to get someone’s contacts while networking and fail to make up follow-up communication. When you meet them, you’ll exchange contact details and agree on the next step to undertake.
A general rule of thumb is that one should wait at least 24 hours before making a follow-up call to their new network. Remember that as you reach out to them, ensure to state clearly who you are and remind them of where you met, just in case they already forgot.
5. Get out of your league.
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and start hanging out with people that are ‘out of your leagues.’ Regardless of your current status, you’ll always find it easy to connect with others as long as you are confident, carry yourself well, and are not being someone that’s trying to sell themselves.
Challenge yourself and strive to get acquainted with people a few steps ahead of you in their careers, as they will push you to become better. As you interact with them, ensure to get a few pieces of advice on how they managed to become successful and try to apply those teachings to your own life.
If you are an active job seeker, it would be prudent to know the methods that would help you get more job leads. Besides having an irresistible resume, you should also note that most jobs are found through active networking.
These five tips are a good start for you as they will boost your skills in effective professional networking. What other networking tips have worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below.