Networking has always been a significant factor in the job market, and for some professions it’s an absolute must. Twenty-first century technology has taken networking in many different directions, but the basic idea is still the same – make connections with people that can help improve your career opportunities.
The task is three-fold: find job mentors that can help you grow an effective network, be prepared to build a network by leveraging the right tools and actively expand your network on a regular basis. Even if you aren’t working in your dream industry, you can find a job mentor that will put you on the right path and begin building a network that supports your career goals.
5 Ways to Find a Job Mentor in Your Current Database
Some of the most important people in your network will be your job mentors. You may have a single mentor at any given time or several that simultaneously help you focus on different aspects of your professional life. These people can not only give you insight on moving forward in a profession, but also guidance on who to bring into your network and how.
There’s a good chance that you already know a few job mentors. They don’t have to necessarily work in your industry, but they do need to have the attributes of a mentor.
1. Look for natural teachers that enjoy sharing their knowledge.
2. Tap people who have the time to mentor.
3. Select positive yet realistic people that aren’t afraid to try new things or give you honest critiques.
4. Choose leaders that take pride in helping you find success rather than peers that could be end up feeling threatened by it.
5. Find people that have built a large network of their own by gaining respect in their profession, social groups and community.
5 Ways to Put Together a Digital Rolodex
The days of the little black book are long gone. Technology has made it much easier to build and network and stay in contact. You just have to know how to use it.
1. Social Media – Social accounts not only give you a way to store contact info for your current acquaintances, they also allow you to reach out to people you haven’t met yet. You can follow someone on Twitter, respond to their tweets, make comments on people’s posts, “Like” them and strike up a conversation. Before you do you need to have your social accounts set up.
2. LinkedIn – LinkedIn is worth singling out, because it offers much more in the way of professional networking than other social sites. From online resumes to “recommendations” LinkedIn is a powerful tech tool for growing a network.
3. QR Code Business Cards – Traditional business cards can get lost or destroyed easily. A QR code business card allows someone to scan the code and instantly store your contact info in their device. The easier it is for people to add you to their network the better.
4. Tap Apps – The world of apps is ever growing, and lately there has been key focus on options that help you build and manage your networks. A few to try include: Here On Biz, Newsle and Tinder.
5. Start a Blog – Products like WordPress make it easy to create an attractive blog for free that can help you begin building a web presence that brings people to you. Write about topics within your chosen profession and create at least one post a week.
5 Ways to Grow Your Potential Job Network
Now that you have a job mentor or two and have leveraged the tools to lay the foundation for a strong network, it’s time to start building.
1. Be a Giver – Networking is a give and take activity. If you gain a reputation for helping out the people in your network, it will be much easier to gain contacts and get favors in return.
2. Join Professional Organizations and Events – Getting out and getting involved in gatherings where you know others in your profession will be is a surefire way to make meaningful contacts. Try conventions, luncheon seminars and professional networking events.
3. Join Social Organizations – Another way to build a digital Rolodex is to join social groups that are centered around interests that go hand-in-hand with your profession. These are often much more relaxed environments where it’s all about getting to know people, so save the shop talk until after you’ve built a relationship.
4. Maintain Your Social Accounts – As alluded to above, many people today are meeting and interacting through online means. It’s important that your social accounts are kept up-to-date and a professional appearanceis maintained at all times.
5. Nurture Relationships – Once you’ve made contacts and added them to your network they’ll just be a name on a list if you don’t nurture the relationship. Keep in contact by making posts on social accounts, emailing, texting, calling and grabbing a cup of coffee from time to time. Networking is about the long-term, which gives you plenty of time to develop meaningful relationships that lead to huge opportunities.