Effective networking requires more than just attending industry-specific events and exchanging contact information with power players in your industry. It's also essential to be strategic when it comes to networking if you want to achieve the best results. Here are five tips for effective networking that can enhance the quality of your contacts and boost your chances of achieving long-term career success.
1. Make the Right Connections
On major key to effective networking is making the right connections. It's common for individuals to forget all about interns and entry-level workers when contemplating entry into a new field, but these workers likely have information that can help you get your foot in the door. Don't focus solely on senior-level managers, CEOs and top executives when networking. It's also beneficial to connect with skilled, ambitious and knowledgeable workers who are new to the industry and determined to succeed.
2. Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to let your contacts know what you need. Tell them that you're seeking full-time employment with a company that offers opportunities for advancement. Then, ask if they can suggest a company that might be a good match for your skills and abilities. Also, ask members of your network to review resume, cover letter and work portfolio, and request their honest feedback. Most individuals expect members of their networks to ask for help, so don't miss out on the opportunity to get assistance from professionals when you need it.
3. Thank Contacts Who Provide Help
Express your appreciation to individuals who take time out of their busy schedules to assist you. A verbal expression of gratitude is often sufficient, but don't hesitate to take it a step further. Consider offering a small gift, such as a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks or a free pastry or sandwich from a local diner. These small gifts would be greatly appreciated and can help form a stronger bond between you and your contacts.
4. Continuously Help Others
Another key to effective networking is making sure you're an asset to the individuals within your network. Continuously offer to help others in any way possible by providing information about career opportunities or volunteering for trade shows or networking events. Networking is a two-way street, so be genuine in your efforts to help others if you want others to readily support your career goals.
5. Keep in Touch
The effective networking strategies you learn aren't useful unless you keep in touch with your contacts. Don't wait until you lose your job or need a job reference to make contact with individuals within your network. Reach out to them via social media, and attend as many industry events as possible. Invite your contacts out for lunch or coffee for casual conversations. Attempt to build real relationships and even friendships with members of your network.
In any industry, effective networking is essential for achieving career success. If your current networking strategies aren't leading to great results, use these five tips to help you build meaningful, mutually beneficial relations with your contacts that pay off in the long term.
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