As further studies are conducted on employment and best practices for job-hunting, one fact has become clear: Networking is an essential step in the job-search process. However, many people find the concept intimidating. Whether that’s because these individuals are introverted, lack self-confidence or don’t believe it’s worth their time, the result is that they miss out on potential opportunities.
A recent post on Idealist.org highlights some of the difficulties people cite when it comes to networking; then it goes on to address these challenges, explaining not just how to network, but how to do so with highly influential people in your industry/field of interest.
Despite the volume of networking events that take place, not all are valuable. Some provide an opportunity to hand out as many business cards as possible, but not the chance to make meaningful connections; others don’t offer the optimum platform. It’s important to make sure that when you are networking, you’re doing so in the right environment with people who can help propel your professional growth forward — and to whom you can offer something in return. For example, large networking events may not be the most beneficial for you; instead, you may need to be more strategic and creative with the manner in which you network.
Idealist suggests two methods for better networking:
Method 1: Project-based networking, in which you ask friends, colleagues and mentors to suggest appropriate individuals to reach out to for a specific reason (e.g., a particular problem you need help solving). That enables you to email that person with a clear and focused intention, as opposed to making a vague introduction.
Method 2: Meet people by volunteering, either on a committee, an event or a project. This can be a great way to show off your expertise and work ethic, while getting to know and collaborate with (potentially) more seasoned professionals.
While networking is critical, doing so with the appropriate people is equally important.
If you’re in the New York tri-state area and interested in learning practical strategies for networking effectively, join us for our National Conference on Work & Cancer, in Manhattan, on June 23rd, where we’ll be presenting a session on networking and ways to overcome some of the associated challenges.
If you’re not able to attend the Conference, be sure to consult our Job Search Toolkit, which outlines tips for networking effectively and can be ordered or downloaded from our website for free.
And of course LinkedIn is always a great resource for expanding your professional network; so be sure to check out our recorded webinar on Building an Effective LinkedIn Profile!