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What is networking

Networking is about individuals forming mutual relationships of support. Networks are formed for a varied degree of purposes, not least of which is career advancement. Networking can assist you in numerous ways at the beginning and advancement of your career.

How Networking Can Help You with Career Advancement

Common belief that networking is just about getting jobs could hardly be more untrue. True, networking can eventually create you job opportunities, but there are various ways your career can advance from it.

  • You may find out more about an occupation through members of your network with prior experience or knowledge in it.
  • You may get recommended looking for new employees for hire.
  • You could research an area or subject to which you are unaccustomed for a work project.
  • You could get information about a potential employer before going on an interview.
  • You could get information on a client’s needs and demands.

Who Should Be In Your Network?

Your network can have a make-up of practically anyone you meet. Not everyone is active within your network, but each one can be welcomed into the network at some point in time. Then, everyone in your network has a potential to lead other contacts your way, and have them become part of your active network. Relations within your network are not unidirectional i.e. one hand washes the other. Offer support where needed, and ask for it to be reciprocated as would be due.

Members of Your Network

  • Anyone you have worked with, past and present can be part of your network.
  • Professional Associations: Join them and become an active member by serving on committees. Thus, your co-workers can see you in action.
  • Friends and Family: A distant relation may be a recruiter in your field, thus keeping family and friends apprised of your career goals is crucial to your success.
  • Former Professors and Instructors: professionals in your field may have been your former professors and instructors. In fact, some of them probably still are.
  • Former Classmates: The directory of your college alumni (and where applicable, your fraternity or sorority) can give you contacts to include in your network.

How to Keep Your Network Alive

Once you’ve established your network, you need to keep it alive. Otherwise, you may find yourself disappointed if it’s not there when in need. This is fairly straightforward, requiring only a bit of your time. Do not lose touch with your contacts, and apprise them of your job changes, promotions or any other career-relevant news. Help any of your contacts when they ask it of you. When given a job lead or reference, always send a thank you note. The same goes for congratulatory and reference notes. Do not hold back attending professional meetings and conferences.

Online Networking

Web Sites may provide online networking prospective, but some should be used with caution. For example, LinkedIn is a good preference because it is designed solely for business networking. Facebook, MySpace as well as other social networks may not be as good since many their primary use is diverse. In networking for career purposes, take care to put forth a decent professional image.

What to do if you’re Shy

By nature, we may find difficulty in approaching people. If simply saying hello to a stranger is a difficult task, how can you network? Experts say that you should