networking tips

Networking 101: Connecting for Job Seekers

Spring is in the air! As the snow melts and the sun makes its glowing comeback, so does the itch to get up, get out and get active. After a season of hibernation, it just feels good to shake off the rust and get energized again.

Your professional network is no different! If you feel like your web of connections has been sitting stagnant and gathering dust the last few months, it might be time to revisit your networking techniques.

In fact, while job sites and company listings are great ways to find new job opportunities, a job seeker’s best friend could very well end up being, well, a friend (or former colleague, mentor or other trusted connection!) If you have an established network to draw from, or are just starting to build one, it’s always a good idea to assess how you are engaging with and maintaining your connections. After all, networking is the thoughtful activity of building relationships of trust with other people to further your goals; it requires consistent action and mindfulness.

If you’re interested in refreshing your network as you search for your next job opportunity, keep these tips in mind:

Get Offline, Get Personal
LinkedIn and other online networking services have changed the game when it comes to networking. A vast world of connections is now just a few clicks away. However, if your networking efforts only live online, you might be missing out on opportunities to meet new people and deepen existing connections.
If you’ve only been connecting via links lately, consider attending networking events that bring together individuals in your particular industry of interest. Otherwise, reach out to a longtime contact, friendly or professional, and simply ask them out to an in-person meeting; you’d be surprised at the impact a personal touch can make in your interactions!

Connect Beyond, “Do you know of any openings?”
No one likes to feel used! If you’re new to the job search, it might be a good idea to reach out to people in your network about things other than available job opportunities; a message from someone you haven’t talked to in a long time that immediately requests a favor can come off as inconsiderate and calculated.
Rather, embrace your network as a resource for your long term development. Meeting with individuals to discuss overall career goals, tips for learning new skills and suggestions for professional organizations to join will not only be accepted less cynically, but can help you become a better candidate in the long run.

Be Prepared for Opportunities
The most important thing to remember when tapping into your network is to be prepared. If you’re in touch with your connections and foster a strong relationship, you’re halfway there. But if you’re not ready to provide your relevant applicant documents at a moment’s notice, you might just see the next available opportunity pass you by. Fostering trust and connection is most important when focusing on networking; the ability to act quickly might just be the difference between landing a new job and hibernating for another season.

As the flowers bloom and the temperatures rise, there’s never been a better time to reenergize your networking efforts. Honest connections with impactful individuals can lead to a wealth of professional development opportunities; will you be ready to spring forward?

Have any networking tips for the job search? Let’s hear them below!

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