01/13/2015 09:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Networking Is a Key Strategy in Your Job Search


Gone are the days where the only way of finding a new job was through an advert, or even a recruiter. With the increase in social media, companies have endless means of sourcing talent. However, one rule of thumb still applies today "it's not what you know, but who you know."

In today's highly competitive job market, networking should be one of your key strategies in your job search.

Many people get jobs through friends' connections or ex-colleagues, so, how can you use networking to your advantage to maximize potential job opportunities?

1. Confidence speaks volumes
Always stand tall with a smile on your face, even though you might be shaking inside, networking does become easier and most people feel the same way when they first start! Introduce yourself simply with "Hi, I'm..." and let the conversation flow naturally from there. You can always take a friend, but make sure you don't waste the opportunity to network by sitting in the corner chatting together.

2. What do you do?
This question will always come up so practice your response so it flows naturally. The aim to maintain conversation at this point not shut it down. For example, I could answer "I'm a career coach" but a better response is "I help women move from frustration and overwhelm to fulfillment and balance in their career and life." This is more likely to engage the person and open up a more detailed conversation.

3. Ask questions
If you don't like talking about yourself then having some interesting and open questions rehearsed to help build an engaging conversation, and all you need to do is practice active listening! Try, "What projects are you working on at the moment?" or, "Our Company is looking to implement weekly meditation, have you had any experience of this before?"

4. It's a numbers game
It is far easier to build relationships face-to-face. The more events you attend the more familiar your face will become, the more known you will be and thus increase the number of opportunities that come your way. It is an unwritten expectation that by attending networking events you are supporting people and as a result you will find people willing to help you or give you advice by just being present at these events.

5. Research attendees
Research who is attending and identify the key people you want to connect with. If you are going to invest your time in attending networking events then make sure you know what you want out of it. Is it to meet as many people as you can to build your contacts list, or is it to meet one person in particular? Make sure you achieve this outcome before leaving.

6. Follow up
If you had a great conversation or agreed to follow up, then make sure you do so in a timely manner. Invite them to coffee, send a LinkedIn invite with a message or send an email noting how nice it was to meet them and that you are looking to connect again at the next event. If you do this after every event you will soon have a solid network of people to talk to and who will introduce you to others at future events. Saying you will follow up and failing to do so, is not good for your professional brand.

For those of us where networking doesn't come easily, be brave and step out of your comfort zone, the rewards will be worth it.

What is your experience of networking? Has it helped you progress your career? Please comment below. And if you think this article will help others in their job search, please share.

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