Networking is cultivating relationships and investing regular time and effort in establishing and maintaining career-related contacts.
Networking is simply “talking to people”
When people say you should network, they mean you should talk to people. People are happy to help others if they can. You need to be clear about how you would like their help and be clear about what you are looking for.
- It’s talking with people to gather information, seek advice, expand awareness and generate referrals.
- Networking can be done face-to-face, over the phone, by letter, via email and using electronic bulletin boards. But personal face-to-face meetings are most effective.
- Networking can be as simple as slowing down a bit during the day to pop your head in a colleague’s office to inquire how they are doing and/or to ask them what is happening.
- Networking is a two-way street. Networking is serving as a resource for others, as well as asking others to serve as a resource for you.
- To be effective at networking, you need to know when to ask others for help and be comfortable doing so.
Why is networking important?
Networking can establish contact with people who might ultimately lead you to a job opportunity.
- Through networking, you can learn the jargon of a particular occupational field. Knowing the “words” can be invaluable.
- You can identify role models or mentors to guide your professional development.
- Gain feedback on your qualifications and resume.
- Obtain support and encouragement from others who share your interests.
Who Should be in Your Network?
The list can be almost endless depending upon you and your situations. Some groups to consider are:
- Current and former co-workers.
- Classmates and alumnus of schools/universities you attended.
- Members of social/religious/recreational groups to which you belong.
- Family, friends, and neighbours.
- Network with those you meet at career expositions.
- Start an electronic network or online networking because the internet is the biggest network in the world.
How do you network?
- Know what you need and clearly state it.
- Seek advice, information or feedback rather than answers, solutions or jobs.
- Ask only for what a person is comfortable to give you.
- Avoid asking for information you can obtain through personal research.
- Expect to give as much as you get.
What is networking etiquette?
- Meet at the convenience of your contact.
- Be clear about your objectives.
- Write a follow-up thank you note.