A common saying continues to become more real as students are ending their college careers and beginning to look for full employment. “It’s not what you know, it’s about who you know”. Networking can distinguish you from other candidates in an interview. According to The Career Key “65 to 80% of all jobs are found through networking”.
Like everything in life, you have to start somewhere. There are five simple steps to starting your network
- Make a Networking plan: having a plan will help you succeed because you will be able to see where you started and what goals you have accomplished. Before you can have a successful network plan, you should:
- Set goals for networking: Contact people who will help you succeed in your ideal field. Determine what you want to get out of the networking experience.
- Identify your networking needs and interest: Identify what motivates you and know the future career fields that may interest you.
- Learn about formal and informal networks: You need both of these networks to be successful.
- Formal Networks: Networks that you physically have to join and they meet on a regular basis. (i.e. professional associations)
- Informal Networks: Friends or acquaintances from your day-to-day life (i.e. people from your church)
- Become familiar with networking resources: One of the most popular networking resources today is LinkedIn. Familiarize yourself with this resource and create an appealing profile.
2. Organize your network: Organizing differs for every person since we all organize our events differently and know what works for us. If you don’t have a good way of organizing yet you could create groups in your email program, use the notes section for contacts in your phone, or use a calendar to add reminders to follow up with people at a certain time.
3. Take action: set a time frame for when you want to achieve your goals and go out and get them. Make specific goals that are measurable, attainable, related and time-oriented. The hardest challenge in networking is to continually remain motivated and take action of your opportunities.
4. Practice networking etiquette: Networking etiquette is similar to any other kind of professional setting etiquette. Always seek approval to use the person’s name for references. Thank everyone for their time and show that you really appreciate hearing what they are saying.
When you network you create a group of people to support each other. Through networks, you can learn more about your field you as well as get advice from others on how they proceed to complete tasks. Hearing how others do things could help you solve problems in your own workplace. Along with getting all this great information you give your ideas to others which can help them excel in their fields as well.