The goal of career networking is to start, develop and maintain specific relationships that will be important to you now and in the future. Networking allows you to share information, resources, opportunities and time with others.
Here are some tips and guidelines to follow:
- Don’t start networking when you need to. Look at networking as part of your job.
- Use a notebook, index card or address book to maintain and keep track of your contacts. You don’t want any of these contacts to fall through the cracks. Save all the business cards that are handed to you, write down the date when you had an interaction with someone at a meeting, on a phone call or elsewhere. Make a written record of who referred you to a job lead and how you followed up with the lead.
- Ask for information and help, but also offer same. This will show that you are in good faith and will only go toward strengthening your relationship with the other person.
- Keep your word. If you say that you are going to do something do it.
- Be appreciative of other people’s time.
- Always be professional, you never know where a job lead may come from.
- Get the word out about your job hunt. It is not only about the people that you know, but also the people that they know.
- Let people know what you want or what you are looking for. Looking for a job is not precise enough and will not allow those who want to help you to do so.
- Have your own support network of people that are familiar with your strengths and who will give you advice when needed (what career coaches often refer to as your “board of directors”).
- Smile, be positive and show confidence.
- Step outside of your comfort zone. Practice makes perfect.
- Networking doesn’t mean that you have to change who you are. It only means to open yourself up to others.