A Beginner’s Guide to Networking Successfully

When it comes to finding a career, it can be a challenging process. Fresh out of college or university, you have had limited experiences in the world of work. Therefore, you may find it difficult to find a job.

Networking is a great way to get a foot in the door, and increase your professional profile.

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WHAT IS NETWORKING?

Networking is without a doubt, one of the most powerful tactics in marketing. It is a chance to connect with other people across different professions and job sectors, and therefore will improve your connections on a professional level.

Have you ever wondered how people straight out of university get hired? Have you ever heard the expression: “it’s not what you know, but who you know”? This is so true!

Making yourself visible and known to other professionals will increase your chances of gaining employment. Networking allows you to “meet” new people and thus expand your sphere of importance and influence.

WHY IS NETWORKING IMPORTANT?

Without networking, you will find it extremely difficult to walk through a mine field of competition and challenges that stand in the way of you and a job.

There are many reasons as to why networking is important:

  • Building relationships with professionals increases your professional profile;
  • Remember, people are more likely to do business or employ someone based on likeability and trust. Why not make yourself appear invaluable?
  • Networking allows you to get “plugged” into everything that is going on;
  • It allows you to find and seek new career opportunities;
  • Establish new contacts on a professional level;
  • Accelerate your professional development by engaging in the social world with other like-minded professional individuals.

Building personal relationships will increase your profile by engaging with professionals. Networking allows for you to not only seek new career opportunities, but also keep a look out for competition, or general resources and developments.

HOW CAN I START MY NETWORKING PROFILE?

If your profile is not “online”, than it really should be! Technology is an ever-growing resource in our social world, and therefore it is imperative that you are on there!

Businesses and organisations use the internet at the forefront of their marketing strategies. Whether that’s for employment purposes or advertising, they use online devices to market themselves in a professional manner.

There are numerous ways in which you can network:networking

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Networking events

These are just three ways in which you can promote yourself online. Social networking sites have become increasingly popular for both social and professional aspects. It’s not just for the younger generation! Social networking is a great way to interact with people, and get yourself “out there”.

USING SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES

As mentioned, there are several social networking sites you can use in order to create a professional profile.

One of the best social networking sites is LinkedIn. This is considered a more professional platform, compared to Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn will allow you to create an account in order to highlight your key skills, ambitions, employment and educational history, and future plans.

Things to consider:

  • People are more likely to get in touch with you if you have a picture of yourself on your profile. Ensure this picture creates the impression you want it to. Make it look professional.
  • People are also more likely to get in touch with you if you have filled in your profile with a lot of detail. Lots of blank spaces on your profile shows lack of enthusiasm and motivation. Spend sufficient time in creating a strong profile. Even if you don’t have much experience, turn this round to a positive.
  • Make yourself social. There is no point creating a social networking site if you don’t get involved with the whole “social” aspect of it. Make yourself heard: connect with people, get involved in debates and discussions; put your voice out there!

To create your LinkedIn account, please click here.

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ATTENDING A NETWORKING EVENT

Just like social networking sites, networking events are great to get interactive and build relationships. However, what social networking sites lack, and events relish in, is the fact that you can actually meet people face-to-face.

There is nothing better than chatting to someone face-to-face. This allows you to show your enthusiasm and personality – something which may lack on an online profile.

Make the most of networking events – whether they are held by universities or you find online events.

Things to consider:

  • Always attend networking events feeling fully prepared. There is nothing worse than standing there, and having nothing to say. You want to make the most out of these networking events. Therefore, I encourage you to plan in advance. What do you wish to achieve from the event? Do you wish to gain employment? How can you make someone want to hire you? Ask yourself simple questions, and ensure that you look professional on the day.
  • Print out business cards. This is a much more stylish way of creating contacts, and seems less desperate than handing out CVs and hoping someone will hire you.
  • Don’t spend the whole event talking about yourself. Yes, you want to show off and make yourself noticed, but you also want to use this networking event as a learning tool. You can ask questions and get advice and tips from other people.
  • Don’t be too shy. Whilst an event like this could be packed full of people, you don’t want to hide away in your shell. You need to assert yourself and make yourself stand out. What makes you different from everyone else?
  • Leave a lasting impression. Of course, first impressions are important. However, it is the lasting impression you want to stick! How are people going to remember you? Leave a strong, professional impression.

TIPS FOR NETWORKING

Below I have outlined some of the most basic, yet significant tips which will help you when creating networking profiles.

Read through these first before creating or editing your profiles!

  • Remember, everything that is online is on there forever! If you are trying to promote yourself on being a professional, images of you highly intoxicated or partying all the time, doesn’t give a professional picture!
  • Stay professional. You want to make sure that you use these social networking sites in order to highlight your professional prospects, ambitions, skills and knowledge. This is a great way to become recognised.
  • Interacting with other people is a great way to get your name out there. If you see something of interest, make sure you comment! Respond to people and get involved. This is bound to leave an impression on someone, and could mean the difference between securing a strong professional relationship.
  • Never dismiss anyone. No matter how insignificant or irrelevant someone seems, do not dismiss them. Someone you dismiss may just be that stepping stone you needed to secure a relationship with someone they knew.
  • Remember, it’s not about what you know, but who you know. More importantly, it’s not about who you know, but who knows YOU!

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