Networking is the process of building professional relationships or social networks where professionals share information, resources, and talents. There are many ways to network, yet many people feel overwhelmed or unsure how to network. More jobs are filled through networking than any other method, an estimated 85 percent. The majority of jobs are part of the hidden job market. In the hidden job market, jobs are not posted, but instead filled through networking or internal candidates. So, how can you succeed in a world where who you know can be as important as what you know? What are some ways to find the hidden job market and network, especially when you are at the beginning of your career, changing careers, or moving to a new place? It is not only important to know networking types, but also how to network.
Types of Networking
- Meet Face-to-Face. From formalized meetings to chance encounters, every interaction is an opportunity to network. Probably the most effective way to build your network is meeting someone in person. This often makes the most profound and lasting connection. After you have connected, ask for a business card and share yours. Make sure to follow-up with the connection you have built via a networking site, e-mail, phone, or scheduling a face-to-face follow-up meeting. Remember to thank people for their time.
- Online Introductions. Join online networking sites such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to connect with others in similar jobs and to connect further with people you have met. Headhunters, and human resource professionals, such as hiring managers, use resources such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find potential job candidates and learn about them. Keep your LinkedIn profile current and your Facebook content professionally appropriate.
- Join Professional or Student Organizations. Professional organizations and career based student organizations are an excellent way to build your network. Whether you are moving to a new city, beginning college, seeking your first job, or a seasoned professional, professional organizations help their members stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in the field and to stay connected.
- Be Genuine and Listen. Be your best professional self, and genuinely seek to learn something about the other person. People enjoy sharing what they love about life and their work. People advanced in their career care about the longevity of their occupation and legacy, they want to share their story. Remember to listen to what the person is sharing and to ask follow-up questions. Most people want to share, connect, and be listened to.
- Remember and Follow-Up. When meeting someone new, follow-up with them and indicate how much you enjoyed meeting and request a further interaction. People are honored when you remember something about them and your conversation. To help you remember, write a note on the back of their business card indicating how you met them and highlighting some important information about them you want to be sure to remember.
- Get Involved. Joining professional organizations, talking with others, and reading the latest on your profession are among the best ways to remain connected to your network and knowledge. If you have a harder time with networking, volunteer to complete tasks. For instance, offer to check people in at a professional development event. You will meet others and show them your professionalism rather than having to talk about it.
Whatever type of networking you do or how you network, networking is an essential skill in the world of work. As we enter further into the new millennium, technology and hard skills are often highlighted, yet soft skills like connecting with others, learning from others, and collaborating are as important as ever.