Gone are the days when an employee would join an office and then stay in the same organization for years. Today, everyone wants to move up the professional ladder fast. After gaining work experience in an organization for a couple of years, a professional would want to join a better paying one. And sometimes, after working in the industry for a few years, a professional might want to turn into an entrepreneur! Whether it is to find a good job for oneself or the initial clients for business, an individual, besides his passion for work, skills and qualifications, has to rely on his "contacts".
Having a network of people in place, who would help you at various points in your career, is very essential. Through the contacts that you build, your awareness of the new developments in the industry that you are working in, increases. This further helps in your professional growth. As career networking is an art, a professional should know some of its basics, in order to be successful at it. Scroll down for some effective career networking tips...
Before you set out on your "contact hunt", prepare and practice how you will approach people. Stand in front of the mirror and rehearse the whole thing. Do this a couple of times, till you have it by heart. At the same time, make sure that you do not introduce yourself mechanically. Add a few emotions and pauses in your introductory speech as well!
Now, no one in his right mind would like to speak with a person he finds detestable. So if you want to make some good contacts, be likable. Dress professionally, be well-groomed, smile a lot and be confident. Display a positive body language and automatically, you will find people comfortable talking to you and exchanging their business cards/phone numbers with you.
Be a Good Listener
This is extremely important, in all kinds of relationships, whether personal or professional. When you meet someone, listen more and talk less. This will give you an opportunity to know more about that person, plus, as mostly people talk when they meet someone, when you do the opposite, you will come across as someone different. This will help you in making new contacts.
Join Trade Associations
Joining trade associations is a great way of social networking for career opportunities. At these associations, you will come in contact with professionals working at all levels in your field of work. So you can make some really good contacts in there. However, make it a point to attend the meetings, seminars and other events of the association. This will ensure that you do not come across as someone who is simply there to make contacts, but someone who is genuinely interested in the happenings of your sector.
Be Internet Savvy
Nowadays, Internet has become a major tool for career networking. Social networking sites such as Facebook, provide a platform for alumni of the same college or employees of an organization, both past as well as present, to form groups and connect. Then, there are websites like LinkedIn, where you can upload your resume and make contacts with professionals in your field and possible employers. So along with offline networking, be creative and make full use of online networking opportunities too.
Stay in Touch
Staying in touch with your contacts, not just when you need them, but on a regular basis, is very important. So call up your contacts sometimes and ask how they are doing. Wishing them on birthdays, anniversaries or on festivals is a good way to stay in touch with friends and widen the network.
Offer to Help
Remember, the reason why you make business contacts is the same reason why others do too. So if any of your contacts has a problem, offer your assistance in solving it. This way, your contact will feel obliged to do the same for you!
Career networking is a never ending process. You have to be at it, till you retire from your professional life. It is like an added qualification that you must possess in order to be a successful professional at your career. So the sooner you learn and start applying these tips, the better it will be for your career development!