Knowing how to network successfully can help you tap into a hidden job market and present your skills and experience to potential employers. More than half of jobs are filled through networking contacts and more employers are turning to social media tools for help with hiring. Using network referrals to get a job can lead to 6% higher annual income and most networkers stay in their jobs for two times longer than direct job searchers.
Benefits of Networking
Whatever your reason for diving into the world of networking, the benefits can be huge. 96% of employees at Adobe feel that networking strengthens their creativity. The benefits of a strong network extend beyond work, as having a strong social network may lead to fewer symptoms of dementia and other diseases.
More than half of people get word-of-mouth referrals from networking contacts. It has always been a tool for job seekers but today, it’s a skill that can help many other professionals advance their careers.
Scientists use networking to help secure research grants. Contractors and construction workers network to find new contracts. Business leaders network with their employees to build relationships, foster creativity, and get to know each other outside the office. Artists and musicians use networking strategies to build followers and get discovered.
Building Your Network
Professionals can develop casual contact networks by participating community service organizations or the Chambers of Commerce. These networks are a great place to discuss local business and legislation and meet people from other professions. Casual contact networks can improve your business’ reputation in the local community and increase the likelihood that contacts will patronize your business.
Strong contact networks are more focused on sharing referrals within a small group of professionals. This is where developing a strong, long-term relationship is key to successful networking. Contacts made through the Business Network International (BNI) have resulted in 9.8 million referrals worldwide.
Networking can also be a tool to learn and share ideas with other professionals within your industry. Professionals can attend events and meetups to get to know other professionals and make connections. Professional conferences are a great opportunity to network while learning new skills and solutions for your business.
Now that you know why networking is so important, here are some tips that can help you learn how to network successfully:
Personalize Your Profile
Whatever social media platform you’re using, personalizing your profile is key to standing out from the crowd. On LinkedIn, including at least 5 skills on your profile can create 17 times more views. Take the time to fill out everything in your profile and write summaries that show some personality and style.
Once your profile is filled out, you have to keep it up to date. Regularly updated profiles get more views and more searches. Keep updating your profile, writing posts, and changing your profile picture.
When networking on social media, always be polite and courteous. You might even want to create separate accounts to keep your personal life away from your professional life. However, don’t focus only on business. It’s important to build relationships by asking others about their lives and not just work.
Social media is driven by pictures and professional networking sites are no different. Profiles with photos get 21 times more views.
Other users form an impression of you in only 1/10th of a second. So, pick your photos carefully.
Networking is about building relationships and it’s always best to do that face-to-face. When you make a contact online, follow up in person or at least with a phone call. Always make the effort to keep in touch with contacts. Few strong relationships are better than a lot of mere acquaintances.
Tips & Tricks for Networking In Person
- Have your business cards ready to go.
- Listen to others and see what help you can offer them.
- Share promotions from other companies and ask them to share yours.
- Meet outside the office for a better opportunity to get to know co-workers and other professionals.
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Author: Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.