According to LinkedIn, in 2016, 70 percent of new hires established a connection with someone in the company first. How can you find and establish relationships with influential people? This article will share seven pieces of networking advice from experts.
Question: Where should I network?
Answer: Focus within your field: Katharine Hansen, author of A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way Into the Hidden Market says, “I conducted a survey asking professionals and career experts which venues or groups were best for networking. The top answer by far was professional organizations—which ideally would be in one’s field. The next most popular response was volunteer organizations.”
Which professional or volunteer organizations exist in your profession?
Question: What if I don’t have time to attend professional events?
Answer: Don’t use time limitations as an excuse to do nothing. Do what you have time to do: Ariella Coombs, Content Strategist and Career Coach for Work It Daily reveals: “The key to networking when you don’t have any time is to realize that you do in fact have time—you do. It might not be obvious at first, but it’s there. For example, you can connect with people on LinkedIn during your bus ride to work, or network with people at your next family BBQ. Make it a habit.”
Is it difficult to find the time to network? How can you network effectively in smaller blocks of time?
Question: What should I say when I meet a potential influencer?
Answer: Focus on learning what his needs are from a career or hiring perspective: Busi Shibodze, a recruiter with more than ten years of experience, suggests finding out how his business is going, what challenges he faces from a human resource perspective, and if he is looking for a change. “Networking is not about filling your Rolodex with names. It’s about delivering value to people and helping them make valuable connections.”
Answer: Don’t be intimidated. Change the way you perceive networking, and you will feel more comfortable. Career Expert and co-founder of The Muse, Kathryn Minshew gives an effective tip to minimize your nerves.
“Reframe [your perception.] It’s much easier to approach if you look at it as meeting interesting people and developing connections.”
Question: After I have met some good contacts, what should I do next?
Answer: Follow up with your contacts immediately: According to Brennan Scanlon, co-author of Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, you should write or email within a day of your first encounter with someone, Within a week, connect with them on social media. Within thirty days, try to set up a meeting. “ If you live near each other, meet in person. That is almost always best.. If you are far from one another, set up a meeting via Skype or by phone. At this meeting find out more about what they do and look for ways to help them in some way. Don’t make it a “sales call;” make it a relationship building opportunity.”
Question: What exactly does it take to be a successful networker?
Answer: Make an effort: Scott Ginsberg, professional speaker and author of The Power of Approachability, gives some intriguing advice, “The most important four letters in the word NETWORKING are W-O-R-K because that’s exactly what it takes. Publish a newsletter or ezine. Interview people from your network and feature them as experts. They will take ownership of their inclusion and spread that publication to everyone they know.”
What work do you put into your networking? Can you start a newsletter or some other means to communicate more regularly with your contacts?
Question: How can I network online?
Answer: Make the most of your online presence: Amanda Zantal-Wiener, tech news writer for HubSpot, suggests taking advantage of web marketing strategies. “Search engine optimize your LinkedIn profile. SEO isn’t limited to blogging—it turns out, you can also optimize your profile to get discovered by people searching LinkedIn for key terms you want to get found for. You can add these keywords to various sections of your profile, such as your headline, your summary, or your work experience.”
What key terms could you add to your LinkedIn profile? Do your other social networking sites have a similar feature?
The LinkedIn survey mentioned at the onset had another sobering finding: ”Despite the majority (79 percent) globally agreeing that professional networking is valuable for career progression, less than half (48 percent) globally say they keep in touch with their network when things are going well in their career.” Don’t be a statistic. Take the advice above to find and develop good contacts. And once you have them, stay in touch.
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