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Networking 101 To Grow Your Career

We’ve all heard that networking is an important part of the career building process, especially when you are ready to make your next career move.  But we often ask ourselves, what is the best way to go about this? How do I network? Where do I start?

 

Define your why.

 

Why are you networking? A lot of us know that we “should” network. However, we don’t necessarily see networking as something we “need to do” until we start our job search. This approach is reactive instead of proactive. Being reactive usually isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to use networking to grow in your career and find new job opportunities. If you remember that you are proactively building connections to achieve a specific goal, you are giving yourself a reason to prioritize networking (instead of putting it off).

 

Have a plan. Set goals.

 

Networking for the sake of networking probably isn’t going to force you to make time to grow your connections. It’s important to know why you want to network so you can have a good strategy in place. Is your goal in networking to switch industries? Are you planning on switching careers in the future? Do you want a failsafe in case unpredictable changes occur?

 

You can create a plan that allows you to target the right individuals once you know why you want to network. If you are trying to network outside of your industry, set goals to connect stakeholders in the new industry once a month or twice a quarter. If you plan on switching careers, schedule recurring lunches or meetings with individuals who might refer you to the positions you are seeking. If you are wanting to develop a plan in case you need to unexpectedly start your job search again, find ways to share content or LinkedIn articles on a daily or weekly basis with people you might want to work with in the future. Comment on their posts or tag them in content they would find useful.

 

Do your research. Where are the people you want to network with?

 

Once you have made the decision that networking is the priority, and you set goals for how often you are going to network, you’ll now need to decide which networking path will be most helpful. With meetings, deadlines, and working late, it’s important to determine where to spend your time, and to spend it wisely. This is why researching will help you focus your time, energy, and resources in the right direction.

 

During the research process, ask yourself these questions: Who do I want to target? Where can I find the individuals I want to target? What would be the most productive way to target them? 

 

Do you want to network with individuals in the technology field? Try contributing to discussion and providing advice on Reddit or on online networking groups. Want to build relationships with leaders? Try meeting them at seminars, conferences, and leadership forums. How about switching careers? Start to build relationships on LinkedIn by following companies, engaging with hiring professionals, and connecting with leaders in that space. 

 

Go where your target network is and build from there.

 

Schedule time in your calendar.

 

Now that you’ve done your research and created a plan for who to target and how to grow your network, you have to take the next step, which is making time for this important task.  Scheduling time on your calendar is often the best way to go about this. If you just note it on your to-do list or talk about doing it, you might end up letting other things interfere with your networking initiative. There will always be meetings, projects, and struggles that arise at work and in life. When you schedule time on your personal calendar to network, stick to that time. Build online networking into your weekly routine, set aside time for that important lunch meeting on a monthly or quarterly basis, invest in a conference or seminar, or attend networking events in your targeted profession or industry. Building these plans into your calendar is crucial to making sure your networking plan doesn’t fail you by repeatedly getting pushed back.

 

Evaluate.

 

Lastly, once you have started networking, evaluate if you are seeing the growth and success you want. Do you see potential in these relationships? Is it helping you in business? Is this leading you to the opportunities you are needing? Make sure you are seeing results. Don’t be afraid to revise your career networking plan, if needed.


If you want help creating a customized action plan to help you reach your networking goals, reach out to us to learn more. www.dscareermanagement.com

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