Searching for a job is hard, and one of the more ominous obstacles between you and your dream job is networking. Many of us believe networking is tricky, time-consuming, and painful. Where do you start?
Start small. Tell your best friends you’re looking for a new job. Now, other people know and will either keep you in mind for job opportunities or hold you accountable (wasn’t that was easy?). Networking is like a garden, tend it a little at a time and everything will bloom.
Here are six simple ways to take the pain out of career networking.
1. Be active on LinkedIn. Showing up is half the battle. Participating in LinkedIn, by having a good profile and contributing to the online conversation, can accelerate the job search, and help build and maintain professional relationships over the long term. If you post content that builds your brand, you are more visible and more likely to make more – and potentially helpful – connections; great content will drive people to your profile. Not to mention, if you are searching for an “in” at a particular company, you can leverage your network, and your network’s network, to connect with someone at that company.
2. Maintain contact with people you know. You don’t have to manage a hundred email chains on a daily basis. Little things like a birthday message, or a heartfelt congratulations on a promotion or work anniversary, can keep a professional relationship open. If you are active on LinkedIn, like or comment on business-oriented posts. Share. Once a month, go to lunch with an important contact you wouldn’t otherwise see. If you’re in a position to so, be generous with professional referrals. Nobody has ever complained that someone sent business his or her way.
3. Be active in professional associations. If you’re a project manager, PMI is the go-to-group. For human resources professionals, it’s SHRM. Depending upon your industry, there is likely a professional organization in your local area you can join whose whole mission is to provide a space for people working in the same field to network. You can take on leadership roles, make new connections, and foster new opportunities.
4. Attend professional conferences. I know, I know. It’s a great way to meet professionals in your field, but you’re scared of the cost. It’s true that attending a conference often equals a substantial financial outlay. However, think of it as an investment in your future. A professional conference can have a stellar return. Since it’s like speed dating for job seekers. You meet a lot of people at once, hear about a lot of job opportunities at once, and may learn about career paths you had never considered. It’s not unheard of for job seekers to leave conferences with new jobs, or to establish connections that lead to new opportunities down the road.
5. Call on old friends. You may be surprised how a reunion with old friends can pay off in the present. Next to family, old friends may rise up to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to offer it.
6. Manage your social networks with care. The best way to mitigate any unforeseen fallout from your social networks (not just LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) is to always maintain a professional image, which is a tall order when it’s a social network. Short of that nuclear option, exercise caution when making posts and consider adding people with care.
These are some simple tips to get you going. The rest is up to your magnetic personality!
Philip Roufail contributed to this article.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.