A report in 2011 revealed that nearly 65% of job openings are filled through internal movement and referrals. In other words, jobs are given to individuals who have ‘connections’ within respective Organisations. This invariably leaves 35% of job openings being filled by candidates with the best résumés and interview performances. Getting few responses after submitting your CV to several Companies can be frustrating. As much as we may want to shy away from this stark reality, it stares us in the face. Your success is determined, largely, by the things you do, the things you know and the people you know; better put, by the people who know you. Rather than expend all your efforts sending in résumés to several hundreds of Organisations, leverage on the people you know to speed up your employment process.
So what is Networking and to what extent does it contribute to your Professional Development?
Networking is about building relationships- it’s an iterative give-and-take process that spins you into a web of ‘connections’. It’s a great opportunity to learn, get and share new ideas.
Basically, for a job-seeker- networking helps you meet with the hiring manager. As a prospective employee: you are able to fast-track your job hunt and employment, build your self-esteem, expand your knowledge, and gain more contacts… ultimately, networking helps develop you professionally and this sure comes with several benefits in the long run. The possibilities are endless.
How to network?
There are no lofty ways to network; it’s what you do every day, quite subtle but, your daily interaction with people is simply networking- however, what avenues to explore when networking totally depend on you. Whether you choose to attend random networking events, join a professional group, follow up on prospective employers via social network or simply be nice to every new person you meet while finding ways to introduce your elevator pitch to them… It’s totally up to you; bear in mind though that there are good and bad ways to network. A bad way to network is meeting people for selfish reasons- get a job through their referrals and run away, until a later time when you need their help again. A good way to network is to develop constant communication with people you meet, follow-up on them, get them to like you better, and probably earn their trust.
The essence of career networking is not to become a guru at it, primarily, but rather to get your foot in the door and thrive on as many opportunities as are available.
Here are a few tips to help:
– See every moment as an opportunity to network– everyone you meet can aid your job-search, start with people from your inner-circle; family, friends, and then extend deep interactions to acquaintances. Get out of your comfort zone to consciously hone your networking skill. Create time to do it irrespective of your schedule. The benefits of networking far outweigh the excuses.
– Be attractive: in other words, be resourceful. Realise that getting people interested in you won’t be easy if you have nothing interesting to offer. Let prospective employers – or people generally- know what you are good at, long before there’s a job-opening in the Organisations you’d like to work. Get to work! Hone a skill, acquire more skills, achieve more, -or at the least- improve your vocabulary. Essentially, be better at what you do, be an expert at it and word will spread about you. Ensure to be very interactive and open when you meet people. People would love to hear more from you when you share valuable information and ask incisive questions.
– Be more interested in the people you meet: if your primary reason for meeting with people is to overwhelm them with tales of your achievements, or you are only motivated to meet with people for what you anticipate from them, then you are not networking. Effective networking is not rushed, slowly enjoy the build-up process; listen to them, give good advice when asked and ensure to stay focused as distractions may set in, especially when you’ve gotten more informal with the person you are networking with.
– Develop face-to-face interactions: this is important because meeting and interacting with people face-to-face gives you the opportunity to really sell yourself and also create a lasting impression. Online interaction is not a total rule out but the influences and effects are not as deep and interesting as face-to-face interaction.
– You don’t have to network with everyone: don’t be in a hurry to exchange contacts with just anybody, there’s no point gathering them if you can’t follow up on those contacts, build-up and sustain good relationships.
– The best way to enjoy networking is to be YOU: Ideally, you should be professional at your networking experience but, it’ll be in your best interest if the true you is revealed from the outset; this covers what your passions are, the kind of Organisations or Firms you are looking to work with, etc. This allows for flexibility in your relationship with the people you meet, much more, you are able to identify yourself with the right people early on.
Lastly, It’s important that you show passion in what you do; this will spill over into how you talk about yourself and it’s easier to convince a prospective employee, client, or potential investor this way.
Also, if you are convinced networking events are a good way to build relationships; more importantly, with the right people- the 90minutes Speaker Series sponsored by Jobberman.com; is a platform to meet and interact with professionals in different fields, expand your network, build mentor-mentee relationships, and it’s free. Be on the look-out for subsequent events.
How do you network? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.