5 Ways to Network That Will Actually Stick
Job hunting has always been a game of who you know over what you know. A full 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking, making it a necessary tool in any professional’s arsenal.
Here are some tips to help you build connections and keep them.
1. It’s not really about you
It’s tempting to view networking as a “what can they do for me?” endeavor, but have a touch of humanity! People are more than just networking tools, and you’ll go a lot farther by focusing on what value you can bring to them.
When interacting, market yourself a little and make it clear why they should network with you in the first place. If you’re able to learn something about their concerns, desires, and professional goals, you might find that you have something to offer them. If so, your connection is in the bag.
2. Be choosy with your contacts
Networking is, in essence, just another type of marketing. You’re both the salesperson and the product— and your goal is to get them to buy. And just like in regular marketing, you need to be cautious about who you reach out to.
Do some research on professionals in your area and be selective in your communication. Reach out to people you find genuinely interesting, or who seem to have that “X factor” for success in everything they do. Even if they don’t end up being influential, you’ll definitely learn a thing or two from them.
But remember, you’re not a marketer! You’re not sending out email blasts, and more is not always better. Evaluate each contact on his/her own merits and focus on the quality of interactions over quantity.
3. A personal approach is best
It’s easy to network in our social media world (more on that in a minute,) but social media isn’t your best option. The most personal connections come from face-to-face interactions.
Look for opportunities to get out and engage with others on a personal level. Your best chances will be at professional events with diverse participants:
- Charity drives
- Knowledge networks for professionals
- Professional expos
Do you believe you don’t have enough time to network? You’re not alone—41 percent of professionals feel the same way. But don’t feel limited by time; you can network anywhere, even in laid-back settings:
- Volunteer organizations
- Adult education classes
- Local community groups
- Happy hour at the hotel bar
And so on. Networking isn’t just about business; any type of connection you can make with another person is a plus. Branching out will help you diversify your contact list and connect with others on new levels.
4. Don’t neglect social media
Yes, personal connections are best, but at its core, networking is a game of exposure. And nothing provides better exposure than social media. You all know this already, so we won’t harp on it. Get active on LinkedIn, Facebook, or even industry forums. There are likely plenty of industry groups for you to join, and social media interaction is a great primer for face-to-face meetings down the line.
5. Keep your leads fresh
Everything comes back to marketing, doesn’t it? Just as marketers have to keep their leads fresh after an acquisition, you have to maintain connections with your contacts over time. Connect with them on social media, visit their website, and post comments on their blogs. In short, take any opportunity you can to make contact. Every touchpoint you make reinforces your connection.
And above all, remember: One solid contact who knows you well is better than a hundred strangers you’ve strong-armed into giving up their details. Quality of interaction is your goal. When you get these processes down, your network will expand faster than you think. And as always, if you’re struggling in this process, reach out to Urgenci and we’ll set you straight.