It seems to be a fact that is reiterated over and over; networking is of utmost importance in your job search! For some job seekers trying to build their network, it may seem to be an exercise in futility. Some put a lot of effort into networking, but see no improvement in their job search. Some don’t quite understand exactly what networking is, or if they are even doing it right. Why network if you don’t see results from it? The word is thrown around a lot, and it can seem like it is just part of a simple recipe to success. The thing is, networking is an ambiguous term, and there is no clear-cut way to do it.
Networking can be highly beneficial to your career. Even though it does not often have any short-term payoff, keep at it because it grows stronger over time.
So what is networking? Staying in touch with people you already know? Getting to know people from other jobs? Meeting new people at networking events? Connecting to people on LinkedIn? It is all of this, and more. Networking is about making connections with other people. As many as you can, in any way that you can.
Is it only important to network when you are looking for a job? NO! Everyone should be networking, all the time, for the rest of their lives! An established network can help a job seeker get a job, an employer find the right employee, and help businesses make mutually beneficial relationships. It can even benefit you in your everyday life, like with recommendations for a trustworthy car mechanic or a good travel agent.
In the work environment it is especially helpful; and not just for hearing about job opportunities. Having a network of people in your industry can be very beneficial to your career. You can learn a lot from people in your field, see the trials they have gone through in their careers and use that knowledge to the benefit of your own. Turn to your professional network as a support group when you need advice, or when you just need to brainstorm with someone who knows what you are talking about. Although any connection is valuable to your network, pay special attention to building and maintaining your work network. Attend industry networking events, meet up with former colleagues to maintain your relationship with them, set up informational meetings with people at companies that interest you, join and participate in groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to you. The people in your network who are in your work industry have the most potential value to your career.
Remember that growing your network is a process; one that takes time. As you make connections with people, they will often lead to new connections. The more people you know, the greater the chance to be on someone’s radar when an opportunity comes along. Your network will keep growing and branching out. You never want to constrain your network to certain parameters, so you connect with anyone you meet because you never know how down the line that person may be able to help you. Maybe it is not even them, but through them you are connected to someone or some opportunity they know of. Because of that brief time you met, they think of you for the opportunity, and you start to see how all this networking is of benefit to you.
When it comes down to it, there is really no reason not to network. Whatever your discipline or career status, networking can yield personal and career benefits for you.