Networking is a crucial career advancement technique because you can discover opportunities through other people that you wouldn't locate online or in classified ads. In fact, the New York State Department of Labor states that 80 percent of available jobs are not advertised, and half of all employees find jobs through their personal networks. It can be difficult to develop a network that will provide the greatest benefit to your career trajectory, but with these tips you can rest easy knowing you have people to fall back on when you need to.
Try to extend your network beyond people who have a similar background or work at the same company.
• Professionals who are on the same level as you can help you brainstorm ideas and solve problems that you are all facing. As they grow in their careers, they may be able to offer you advancement opportunities in the future.
• Don't be hesitant to network with people who may become your competition. These contacts can extend your reach in the industry, as it is beneficial to know professionals from different organizations.
• Network with people with a wide variety of ethnicities, ages, and job titles.
Look For Quality
Rather than accruing more contacts than you can keep track of, make several solid connections with a handful of people.
• Don't hand out your business card to everyone you see at meetings or conferences. They'll notice that you're not being selective. Remember--just because you introduce yourself doesn't mean they'll remember you. Be sincerely interested in learning about their skill set, and subtly boast your own personal strengths and professional experience.
• Follow a contact that you remember to demonstrate that you value their relationship - even if it's just recalling that they play golf.
Find Helpful Contacts
Don't build a network filled with unreliable people or those who only want to take and never reciprocate.
• If you find professionals who have other solid contacts, you could unite your social circles to receive maximum benefits. If one of your contacts knows someone who could give you insight into a field you're interested in, they may organize an opportunity for you to meet.
• If you notice that one of your contacts never returns your calls or doesn't offer you anything in return for your help, consider finding another person who does.
• Look to develop relationships with people who work at the companies you want to work for or people who know others who do. You'll have a better chance of meeting professionals who can get you in.