Most people put off networking until they need a new job, but by then it’s usually too late. Whether you’re actively searching, passively looking or content with your current job, networking is essential for your professional career. While there are various forms of networking –networking events, industry mixers, professional associations, etc. – perhaps the easiest way to build or re-vamp your network is through social media, especially if you’re already employed and lack the extra time to network face-to-face.
1. Leverage your existing social networks
There’s so much you can do to make strong connections within your current social networks. If you haven’t done so already, start, join and lead conversations on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook before you start the job hunt. These channels are a great opportunity to be relevant, show strong interest within your industry and let your personality shine virtually. Not a big fan of social networks? These websites are also good resources to check out.
2. Focus on real connections
You need to cultivate substantial relationships with your contacts before you can ask them for anything. How do you accomplish this online? By being visible in your field and credible in your actions. Using your LinkedIn account, utilize your second and third-degree connections to your advantage to request personal introductions and make some real connections. But don’t ruin your credibility by asking someone who you don’t have an established relationship with for a favor, especially if you just met them.
3. Use good judgment
Employers and connections want to know that they are connecting with a trustworthy person, and vice-versa. Verify that those you connect with are appropriate and professional individuals; you don’t want to be associated with anyone or anything that may lower a potential job employer’s trust in you.
4. Rev up your networking game — now
By maintaining and growing your online networks you can attain opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to you. Being active in the short term can save you time in the long term, get you exposure to new companies and give you a leg up for when you actually begin the next phase of your career.
Photo Credit: PK Hamre via Flickr