Networks need to be built long before you actually need them, but for many people, it’s the last thing they’re thinking about in the busyness that is life! Networking in business is sometimes seen as something that’s more important for senior executives or business owners. But these days it’s often a case of ‘who you know’ so a great time to start building your network is now.
There are many approaches to networking and connecting with people who can help you achieve success in your career. Online and social media sites such as LinkedIn provide the ability to interact with experts from all walks of life. A vast majority of business people in Australia are now using LinkedIn to build and maintain their business networks, gain exposure and credibility, or connect with others who may otherwise be outside their network.
Having a LinkedIn profile makes it easy to maximise your network with just a little regular time invested. Having a strong online presence and network is becoming more and more important for success in a future job search. Making an effort to position yourself as ideal for the job you can see yourself in the future, and building your networks up will help you tap into that important resource when the time does come. It will also give you a better chance of being identified by recruiters for potential roles.
So how can you get underway with building that all important network if you’re just starting out. Here’s 5 tips to get you going:
Tip # 1: Make time to attend industry events and conferences and join relevant associations where you will meet like minded individuals. Be interested in other people and take the time to follow up on advice or information received.
Tip # 2: Create an online profile such as LinkedIn so that you can more easily keep track of people you meet. Make sure it’s full of good quality content that’s been optimised for search engines and always include a photo and as much ‘additional’ information as you can. Networking isn’t just about finding people who can help you locate a job. It’s also about learning from experts and building your own expertise and profile as well, so contribute to forums and post interesting articles of your own or links to articles that others have written.
Tip # 3: Keep track of your contacts and invite them to connect. Include contacts you meet across all areas of your life – this includes former business connections, people you work with day to day (colleagues, clients, suppliers, partners etc.); people you meet at conferences, seminars, industry events, and training courses; and even those you come across in social situations if it’s relevant.
Tip # 4: Be polite – take people’s suggestions and follow up on them. If a contact gives you a lead – whether it’s for a business development purpose or a potential job – follow it up and then feed back to that person on how you went. Likewise, if someone asks you for help, respond. Even if you don’t have something for them, be proactive in thinking about someone else who might be able to help or politely letting them know that in this instance you don’t have anything for them.
Tip # 5 Ask for recommendations – in the old days we asked for written references but these days LinkedIn makes it so easy to ask people for recommendations. Be selective about who you ask though and don’t use a scatter gun approach. You can even highlight parts of the recommendations in your summary to highlight positive feedback.
The important thing to remember is to just get started – the bigger your network, the further your reach. Don’t wait until you are desperate to madly scramble and start networking. You have to build and nurture your network as you go because in today’s constantly changing job market you never know when you might need it.
Do you have trouble networking? Are you lacking a good quality online profile to help you find and connect with like minded industry experts? If you would like assistance from a LinkedIn Profile Writer to build a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service.