TSP • @myTSPnet
Did you know companies do not publicly post about 70% of their vacancies? Not surprisingly, recruiters fill 85% of positions through candidates they met personally or through professional connections. If you're extroverted, professional networking might come easily to you, but introverts often need more of a push to get started. The benefits are a great starting point for developing that motivation.
WHAT IS PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING?
Networking is the process of expanding your circle of contacts to reach new prospects. You can network to gain access to business opportunities and career advice, build relationships with key decision-makers, and receive referrals. It's also a pillar of the job search process. Whether you want to grow your career or break into a new industry, networking can help.
HOW CAN PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING BOOST YOUR CAREER?
Networking is a valuable business practice for people at all levels. Executives and entry-level employees alike rely on networking to increase their exposure to opportunities. There are several excellent reasons to add this practice to your career-building strategy:
- Increase visibility. Networking can increase your exposure and provide opportunities to rub shoulders with hiring professionals. Form connections that could lead to job opportunities, promotions, or career advice.
- Get experience. Networking is a great way to gain new experiences and knowledge. You can learn from other professionals in your industry and use those experiences to build up your resume.
- Grow connections. Professional networking introduces you to new people in your industry so you can build new business relationships. This can open the door to opportunities that would have otherwise passed you by.
- Gain valuable insights. You can tap into the collective knowledge of your network to gain insights on trends and news in your industry. Your colleagues may also provide valuable information on how to improve your job search and career-building efforts.
- Improve communication and social skills. These skills are like muscles. Work them regularly to keep them in the best shape. Networking events allow you to improve business communication in preparation for more formal interviews.
- Find a mentor. Landing a better job isn't the only reason for networking. Mentors can help you get to where they are and beyond by providing priceless advice and guidance as you build your career. In the future they could recommend you for a job or hire you themselves.
WHAT ARE BEST PRACTICES FOR PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING?
Making an effort to attend networking events is just the first step. You must make connections effectively to get the results you seek. Whether you're a social butterfly or prefer a quiet evening at home, there are critical steps to take to ensure networking success.
DEFINE YOUR NETWORKING GOALS
Know what you hope to achieve at the end of the event and over time. Answering these questions can start you off on the right path:
- What are the characteristics of a good job for you?
- What are the core values your employer should share?
- How many job interview invitations would you like to receive within the next month?
- How many events can you reasonably attend per month or quarter?
- Are there "evergreen" events you can continue to attend, such as meetings for professional associations?
WORK ON YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH
This short statement summarizes who you are, your career objectives, and why someone should hire or refer you for a position. Focus less on what you do and more on the value you will bring to a company. Here's an example:
I loved math in school, so working as a business analyst has been amazing! The best part is finding creative solutions for complex problems. My work saved the company about $5 million in the past five years, but now I'm open to applying my skill sets in a new environment. Let me know if you have a vacancy that fits my skill set. I'd love to connect.
CONSIDER YOUR SOCIALIZING PREFERENCES
Venturing outside your comfort zone can be an excellent catalyst for growth, but you might only thrive in settings where you feel comfortable. Think carefully about how you usually socialize and start there before attending larger events for professional networking:
- Do you prefer socializing online? Create a LinkedIn profile and build an online presence. Some people have also had exceptional luck with Quora, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Do you shy away from strangers? Start networking with the people you know, but reconsider skipping that work event the top managers will attend next month.
- Do you prefer one-on-one meetings or small groups? Look for opportunities that meet this preference. For example, you could participate in small Meetup events related to your profession.
- Do you enjoy larger groups? Networking conferences, trade shows, and conventions may be just the ticket. You might even get your boss to sponsor your attendance.
- Do you want more long-term connections? Skip one-off events and find professional organizations that align with your profession or the people who hire workers in your field.
FOLLOW UP AFTER ESTABLISHING CONNECTIONS
Continue to nurture the relationships established during networking events to make them beneficial. Follow up with an email that mentions something specific you discussed and how you can help each other. You can also invite contacts to coffee or lunch and share updates with them over time. Be clear about your long-term professional networking goals so you can attract the help you need.
DRESS FOR THE JOB YOU WANT
First impressions matter, and your attire is usually the first thing people notice. Invest in professional clothing that looks great without being too showy. Practice good hygiene so that nothing stands in the way of your success. Pay attention to your digital presence by ensuring your online profiles reflect a professional image. Set to private any pages that you prefer to keep as they are but that may not necessarily reflect well on you in a professional light.
HOW CAN YOUR BOOST YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING EFFORTS?
Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Professional networking is a great way to expand your opportunities, but other options are on the table. Working with a staffing company is another excellent solution. TSP serves as the middleman between people seeking jobs and the companies that want to hire them. Check out our current vacancies to get started.