What is networking?
Many people think of networking as socializing with people in your field or the field you want to enter. However, it is more about creating and cultivating relationships with these people. First, you need to come in contact with individuals who can help propel your career or expand your professional knowledge. Attending conferences and meetings is a great way to do this. However, don’t forget those individuals in your own backyard- coworkers and friends can provide great networking opportunities.
Networking is more than just meeting people.
Once the relationships are formed, you must develop them. You can’t expect people to fall all over themselves to help you. You must create a “give and get” relationship. If you help them they will be more willing to help you.
Make your network work for you.
Building your network of contacts expands your ability to find the job you’re looking for immensely. The more eyes and ears you have looking for you, the better your chances get. However, you must tell your network what you want. Don’t be shy. If you want a particular kind of position in a specific setting, tell them. If your network doesn’t know what you want, it can’t work for you.
I can’t meet the people I need to network with!
Feel like you don’t run in the right circles? Then take a more formal approach to networking.
Do your research to identify a few individuals who you believe can help you get where you want to be.
Write each person an introductory letter about who you are, what your career goals are and how the person might help you. Be concise and up front about what you want.
Follow up with a telephone call to confirm that your letter was received and to convey your determination.
Try to set up a quick meeting or lunch. If they refuse, suggest a telephone conversation at their convenience.
When you meet with the individual make sure to keep to the predetermined time limit. Ask them questions and tell them about yourself. Also learn about them and how they achieved their goals.
If they don’t know of any jobs available, ask if they know of anyone else who could help you. Expand your network as you go.
Send a thank you card just as you would for a job interview.