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Networking to Get Results!
Whether it’s social networking or simply hunting for a new gig, you will find career networking to be an invaluable exercise to propel you toward your future. From my experience I have found the concept of “networking” to be underutilized and misunderstood, so here are some strategies for successful career networking. Feel free to discuss where else, among your favorite social network.
Networking is not “I win and everybody else loses.” Networking is a win-win, push-pull, give-take, mutually beneficial existence and exchange between people. When you network, always take a genuine interest in the other person. Do NOT feign interest but try to understand the other individual, not just for your needs, but for how you can also help and assist them to realize their goals. Don’t oversell yourself or attempt to work someone over until you get the goodies and then take off. People will NOT be as inclined to help you in the future if they feel they’re being taken advantage of.
Do NOT ask anyone directly for a job or for their direct contacts! Instead ask them for their ideas, suggestions and referrals to resources that may be of assistance to you in your job search or other goals. The wording makes a huge difference. The former infers you’re waiting to feast upon someone else’s position, established relationships and industry reputation. The latter infers that you’re appreciative of any assistance and that you’re proactively working to manifest your own opportunity. Avoid putting people on the defensive or stalk them with relentless phone calls or emails. You will surely shrink your network quickly.
Financially invest in your career. Spend your own money to join career development, trade and professional associations. Don’t wait for your company to pay for your memberships, take the initiative and join on your own. Make sure you attend professional mixers, presentations and annual conventions. These organizations are often the breeding ground to hearing about job openings.
Circulate don’t consume people’s time at networking events. Many people are nervous when it comes to networking events especially when they don’t know anyone else. So what usually happens is that certain people will find a friendly face, corner them and attempt to spend the entire evening talking with that one person versus meeting others across the room. In extreme cases these “hanger-ons” will follow as you take the initiative to work the room. You are a grown-up, be proactive and mingle already.
Sanitize your social media. Whether its Facebook, Twitter , Linkedin or YouTube your social media image needs to be closely guarded and reflect that of a professional. Everyone from college admissions, corporate recruiters, co-workers to company executives are online and all it takes is for a quick search to find potentially damaging information on your favorite social website. Be smart. Either start a brand new social media profile or cleanse your friends list, pictures and posts on your existing profiles. Keep stern privacy settings and “friend” people you trust and avoid coworkers and bosses.
The old adage is true, “it’s who you know” that counts but it’s what you know that takes you far! For that reason alone, connecting positively with others will serve you if you do it right. So do it right! Networking can be an amazing and effective tool for career advancement, but remember to network responsibly and make it a win-win situation!
Herndon Davis, MBA, is author of the New Thought Career Management Book, “Repackaged Common Sense” and can be reached for speaking engagements and workshops at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also Contributes to healthyblackmen.org.
Feature photo courtesy of Andy Newson, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net