How to Grow Your Network

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Many job seekers are reluctant to network, but the reality is that networking is the most efficient and effective job search strategy.  If you want to get a good job quickly, then you need to invest time into networking.  The more people who are in your network, the more opportunities will be available to you.  Here are some tips to help you grow your network:

Join a professional association.  Many of these associations have networking events where you can meet other people who work in your industry.  If you attend these events and nurture the relationships that you build, it won’t take long for you to create a strong network.

Volunteer.  Find an organization that you would like to support and start volunteering.  You can make strong connections when volunteering especially when you are working with a lot of different people.  Also volunteer work gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and professionalism.

Ask your contacts for help.  Although the people in your network are probably happy to assist you, the truth is that they may not even know that you need their help.  Ask a few of your contacts out for coffee and tell them what type of job you are looking for.  See if they know of anyone who might be hiring someone with your skills and experience.  You may be surprised by the doors that you can open just by asking.

Help others.  Networking works with the spirit of reciprocity, which means that if you go out of your way to assist the people in your network, they will also support you.  You may think that if you’re not working, you have no means to help somebody with their career but that’s not true.  Think about the people in your network; would any of them benefit from meeting each other?  Also, keep your eyes open and if you see an article or a job posting that may interest someone in your network, send it to them.  Once you start focusing on assisting others, you will find that opportunities just open up for you.

Use social media.  Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with people in your industry who would otherwise be inaccessible to you.  Join industry groups and participate in discussions.  You want to position yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and engaged in your industry.  Do company searches and reach out to people who work at your target companies.  If you are direct, respectful and your profile looks professional, most people will be open to talking to you.

Networking is more about quality than quantity; a few strong connections are more valuable then a bucket full of acquaintances.  However, if you strive to nurture strong relationships with each person you encounter, you can create a large network of people who are committed to your success.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of ddpavumba at Freedigitalphotos.net)

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