Networking is defined as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Networking is an important aspect to finding or expanding your career.
Let’s breakdown the why, who, how and when of networking.
Networking doesn’t have to have an end goal like receiving a job offer; however, networking can open many doors in your career path. Some individuals network to expand their employment opportunities and land a job, but there are many other reasons why networking is important.
- Help you strengthen your existing network.
- Learn what other individuals are working on.
- Help others find job opportunities.
- Find a mentor to help guide you.
- Learn about your field or a job.
What is your “why”?
Networking has no limits. Anyone you meet could be a potential connection. When seeking out potential networking opportunities, there are a few people you should connect with.
If you are in the market to start a new career, connecting with potential employers is important, whether that be during an interview or with recruiters at a career fair.
It’s encouraged to connect with others in your industry or with similar jobs. Networking with experts in your field also allows for opportunities to grow and expand your knowledge. Connecting with those who have retired from the same industry is an additional opportunity to learn more.
There are different types of networking relationships. Two common types are sponsors and mentors.
Sponsors are defined as a person who will advocate for his or her protégé and assist in his or her professional development.
Mentors are defined as a person in a position of experience who suggests how to expand career and professional networking to his or her mentee. (Source: https://bit.ly/3uHOYDf)
After making your network connection, don’t forget to maintain that relationship.
After knowing who and why you should be networking, let’s get down to how to network.
Before meeting professionals, it’s important to choose how you’d like to collect information from others. You can choose to connect through social media, exchanging business cards, or collecting their information in a fashion that is easiest for you. No matter what method you choose, be sure to own how you network. Pick your method of networking and be confident in it!
There is always an opportunity to network. It’s important to be ready to engage at any moment. One of the most popular network settings are career fairs, virtually and in-person. Other ways include attending resource fairs, panels or connecting virtually. Networking may not a definite date and time where it takes place; always be prepared.
Following Up/Thank You:
Congratulations! You networked with your first individual. Now what?
It’s respectful to follow up with him or her to thank them for their time. This is why collecting contact information is super important. You can send a quick ‘thank you’ message through email or social media. If there is something that you feel was important that you missed, you can briefly touch on that, but make it no longer than two to three sentences. It’s important to provide your contact information, including your email address, phone number and title for him or her to have as a reference.
Remember to stay diligent with your new contact to grow your new networking relationship.
Do you have questions on networking or want to learn more? Contact our Workforce Development department at firstname.lastname@example.org.