Author: Andrew Doyle
You’ve probably heard the old saying — it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters. For a successful job search, that might be truer than you think. And why not? At a time when nearly 80 percent of people land jobs through networking, it’s more important than ever to build those personal connections.
Knowing people in the business definitely has its perks — like learning from someone else’s mistakes or having someone show you the way rather than figuring it out all on your own. So if I had to name one thing that would be guaranteed to boost your career, networking would be it.
However, there’s just one caveat: networking takes time. Yes, there may be a chance meeting or two where everything clicks and you get an amazing contact on your books . But that doesn’t happen all the time. We’re talking about building human relationships — forging meaningful connections with people, both in-person and online, and it’s not always an overnight job.
Sure, networking may be time-consuming. But the payoffs are big — that one hour lunch, a night after work, or even a 2-day conference can help educate you on promotions, align you with thought leaders that give you credibility in your field, and could connect you with the right people who can introduce you to new opportunities, or open your mind about looking for a new position. In a worse case, say when you are laid off from your job, you’d have many connections that would help you to easily land on your feet in a new position that you didn’t have to settle for.
So how do you network and build relationships for the long haul?
Here are three ways to do it right:
- Don’t fall off the radar. It’s as important to stay in touch with your former boss or your colleagues at your past jobs as it is to build a new contact. Business leaders and the high performers you respect and trust can influence your career—and not necessarily in a way that converts to dollars. You’d want to be on the radar screen of those people who have influence or are the decision makers at their new companies. Make time to head out to lunches, chats over coffee, or attend the ex-employee happy hour, if you’re invited. If you are not getting the invites, you should initiate and show interest.You can often engage with ex-employees through groups on LinkedIn or Facebook or enterprise social networks. Joining and being active in these groups may be a great way to maintain positive relationships with your ex-colleagues.
- Attend well-respected conferences, user groups and meetups. These are great platforms to mingle with influencers and thought leaders in your industry. The knowledge you gain from attending such events can add to your credibility when discussing new initiatives at work, during meetings, and even at those same events some years down the line — that’s how you become the expert. Need help finding the right event? Just look at Google reviews and ask your peers/ colleagues what events they like and why.
- Meet with your valued vendors. So many times I’ve heard the statement, “Andrew, you know more about what’s going on in my own organization than I do.” And, that’s true. External vendors have the advantage of seeing your organization from the outside. They also meet with many of the leaders or various other business units within your own organization and can offer some great insight into your competitors and possibly other career opportunities that are out there.
The benefits of networking might not be immediate, but it pays dividends far into the future, not only to expedite your job search but well after you’ve landed that coveted job.
Author: Andrew Doyle