The notion of networking is often perceived as a formal process that can be intimidating and off-putting. Attending networking events, though beneficial, can feel forced and awkward. However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that networking is one of the best ways to get the job you want.
So how can we make the process less painful?
A recent article from The Muse suggests adopting a new perspective on networking. Why limit the concept of a “network” solely to individuals you meet in a business capacity? Obviously you can expect to talk with like-minded and career-oriented peers at networking events, but might it be equally useful and beneficial to connect with friends, neighbors and community members when looking for a job? The answer is yes.
While your next-door neighbor may not work in the same industry as you do, her cousin may work at a company that is hiring for exactly the kind of position you want. It’s important to stay open-minded and be creative when looking for a job. Using the relationships you have cultivated in other areas of your life can enable you to connect with a multitude of people who may be able to help advance your career — individuals whom you may otherwise never have had the chance to meet.
Here at Cancer and Careers we recognize the awkwardness that can be associated with networking, so we have a few suggestions on how to bolster your networking skills:
Shun Shyness: Networking often entails reaching out via phone or email to people you either have not spoken with in a while or may not know well. Stay upbeat and focused.
Engage Your Connections: Think beyond your usual work circle and reach out to others in your life who may be able to connect you with people in your own industry. LinkedIn is a great tool for this. (For tips on how to use LinkedIn to your advantage, watch our recorded webinar on Building an Effective LinkedIn Profile.)
Offer Help in Return: Reciprocity is key when engaging in networking. Offer to introduce those assisting you to people in your field with whom they may want to connect.
Finally, keep in mind that networking is a fluid process, one that can be shaped depending on your situation, personality and the connections you choose to utilize.
For more job-hunting tips, check out our Job Search Tools.