|English: Photo of two free business cards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I've talked about networking a lot on this blog. That’s because it is still a fact that networking gets more jobs than any other source for finding employment. Most people find out about jobs because someone told them about a job opening before it was advertised or someone thought of you when it came open because you have the perfect skills. Sometimes you get the job because you have built up a name for yourself in certain networks.
Networking works. It’s that simple.
But networking does take time and work, so it is important that you start building a good, strong network before you even need a job. Start while you’re in school if you can. If you’re not in school or have already finished, work on it while you’re working another job.
If you use these 7 tips you’ll be far ahead of the competition in building a network that can get you the job you really want:
1. Get organized
What is the point of collecting business cards and pamphlets and other stuff from businesses if you can’t find them and you don’t remember anything about the person that you got them from? Start some sort of filing system for all the information you collect. You don’t need to have a filing drawer but a box or folder with divisions in it can work great. As soon as you get home, make sure that everything is together from each company. You could use a paper clip or an envelope to store it securely together. Then, take some notes. Who did you talk to, what did you talk about, and any other relevant information that might help you should be included. Make sure it is secured with the rest of the information.
2. Attend events
I know you’re not getting paid to go to events. But these events are crucial to building your network. Dress appropriately, come prepared, pay attention, listen, and show people who you are. In the long run it is people that other people connect with – not resumes or cover letter – so make a good impression. And you can’t make an impression on anyone if you’re not out there being seen.
3. Help Other and Become a Resource
Let other people in your social networks learn from you. You don’t have to constantly talk about what you know but if the topic comes up and someone is interested in finding out more about the field you work in (or want to work in) or you have a chance to help someone get information, be willing to do so. They will remember how knowledgeable you are and if the opportunity comes up where they can recommend you, they will.
4. Create business cards
Of course, people can’t get in touch with you if they don’t know your phone number or email address. So, create some business cards that have your contact information on it. When you meet someone you can help, they will have your contact info handy if you have cards. They don’t have to be expensive or fancy. A simple card on quality stock paper will do the trick. Make sure you carry them with you everywhere.
5. Follow Up and Follow Through
Don’t let a meeting or an event be the last time someone hears from you. Send an email to thank people for their conversation, insight, or tips. Connect with them if they are active on LinkedIn. Participate in discussions in groups they might be in on social networks.
If you offer to help someone, provide information, or be in contact with them – make sure you are. There is nothing worse than someone that doesn’t do what they say they will do, no matter how big or small it is.