This is a guest post by Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Career Consulting Company Position Ignition.
When done smartly, networking can be an important part of your job search strategy. Through networking, we meet new people who can give us insider advice and information on an organisation or industry, or even help set up an opportunity for us.
1. Use your existing network – it’s useful to make new contacts, but don’t neglect your existing ones. Phone up someone you haven’t connected with for a while and arrange to meet up for a coffee. Once you tell them what kind of job you’re looking for, they may surprise you with how they can help.
2. Join professional associations – professional associations are good places to meet new contacts. Become a member of the association related to your career field and keep track of any networking events it’s organizing.
3. Think quality, not quantity – there’s no point spraying out business cards to everyone you meet if most of them can’t or won’t help you in your job search. When you go to networking events, take only a few cards with you and hand them out only to the people you make a genuine connection with.
4. Have an elevator pitch prepared – when you’re going to a networking event, it’s a good idea to have 30 seconds of spiel prepared so you can easily introduce yourself to others and tell them what your job search goals are. Include in your pitch a couple of short sentences about what you’re doing at the moment, what your background in terms of experience is and what you’re looking to do next.
5. Be genuine – although it’s useful to have an elevator pitch prepared and to carry a few business cards with you, this doesn’t mean networking is all about sell, sell, sell. Tell people about yourself but be authentic in also listening to what they themselves have to say. People can tell if you switch off as soon as they start talking. Take a genuine interest in others.
6. Follow up after initial contact – it’s easy to say to someone you meet at an event that you’ll contact them soon but then to go home and forget all about it. Don’t let your new contacts slip through your fingers. Even if they say they’ll contact you, send them a short email the day after you meet them just to say you enjoyed making their acquaintance. That way, they’re unlikely to forget you.
7. Diversify your networking – balance your face-to-face networking with online social networking. It’s best if you can include both in your job search strategy, as you open yourself up to more opportunities and are more likely to find something truly suitable if you diversify your efforts.
8. Make your profiles informative – potential employers look at our Twitter bio or LinkedIn profile to learn more about us and to see if we’re suitable for any job vacancies they may have coming up. Therefore it’s crucial that you use your bio to clearly state what value you have to offer to employers and what kind of work you’re looking for.
9. Be professional online – when you’re on a social media site in the comfort of your own home, it can be tough to remember to be as professional as you are when you’re face-to-face networking. However, even though we’re hidden behind a screen it’s important we remember to be polite and respectful of others, to use correct spelling and grammar and to watch our language.
10. Help others out – we’re more likely to get help from our networks if we’re seen to be as willing to give as we are to take. The best way to reach out to someone is to offer to help them. This will get their attention and will make them more likely to return the favour by assisting you in your job search.
About the Author:
Nisa Chitakasem co-founded Position Ignition.com to provide career consulting to people looking for guidance and support through their career change, new career direction, job search and career development.