You know that networking is an effective job search strategy but how is it working for you? Many people believe in networking in theory but have trouble executing it to get results. If your networking efforts have been disappointing, here are some tips that will help you get it right:
Focus more on others. If you are thinking about networking primarily as a means of furthering your career goals, that is precisely the impression you will make on everyone you meet. Of course you are using networking as a job search strategy, but you can't make that your main focus. Instead try to find ways to help the people in your network and you will find that they are much more eager to connect with you.
Be more consistent. Networking is a slow game. You have to work at it each day to meet new people, maintain relationships, find opportunities to help your contacts, and see if there are ways that your connections can assist you. If you only invest time into networking once every few weeks, you won't be able to build up enough momentum to get the results that you want.
Be more strategic. What is your networking strategy? If you are just getting out there and trying to make connections, it might take a while for you to get results. Your networking efforts will be more effective if you are clear about what you are trying to accomplish. For example, if you are trying to break into public relations, you may set the goal of connecting with people who work in boutique public relations firms for the purpose of finding out about internship opportunities or entry-level jobs.
Make genuine connections. The people with the strongest networks are those who genuinely engage with their contacts. Try to get to know your contacts as people and see if you have anything in common. Ask about their family, where they grew up, where they went to school, and what hobbies they enjoy. It is hard not to like somebody who shows an interest in getting to know you.
Follow up. Maintaining the relationship is just as important as making the initial connection. When you meet somebody at a networking event, you will quickly become strangers again if you don't send them an email or add them on LinkedIn. The same is true for closer relationships; you will drift apart from previous coworkers and friends if you don't make an effort to keep in touch.
If you are expecting a quick result from your networking efforts, you will probably be disappointed. It's a marathon not a sprint. Keep at it and it will open doors for you.
(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)