You’ve heard about networking, but what does it even mean? Is it a social get-together or only on a professional level? Does it count if it is in-person or if it’s through a networking site?
The answer is yes – they are all correct! Networking is when you connect with other people socially and/or professionally to share information.
You might also wonder why you should worry about networking. Simply stated, networking can be the main reason you get your next job.
If you’re networking well, you’re staying in touch with previous employers, employees, friends, family and other professionals with the same interests as you. These connections can help you learn about particular industries and positions, share and receive career advice, and meet someone who can help you land your dream position.
As a Career Development Coach at Herzing University who works with students and alumni on finding meaningful employment, I want to share the importance of networking and give you the seven mistakes to avoid.
1. Not doing it
If you are not on a professional networking site, you should be. I would recommend taking a break after reading this list and creating your profile now! Other tasks will be waiting for you when you return; your dream position may not be. You should make the best use of the resources that are available to you.
2. Waiting until you are looking for employment
Many people will begin to network when they graduate or feel dissatisfied with their careers. Instead, start right away. It takes a while to build up connections on a professional site like LinkedIn and to track down people you might want to add to your personal network. Start connecting with people before searching for a position. Ultimately you will make your career search much easier on yourself in the long term.
3. Being extremely selective
On social media, it is usually a good rule of thumb that you only connect with people that you know in real life. However, when it comes to networking, you should introduce yourself to people you don’t know at in-person networking events and possibly reach out online to potential connections who might share an interest with you.
4. Being unprofessional
Make sure that when you are networking that you keep it professional. This includes having an email address that does that isn’t directly tied to your legal name or place of business or anything inappropriate. You never know when your future boss may be looking! You should have an appropriate headshot posted to your account, and your posts should be professional in nature.
5. Sounding too arrogant
You want to sell yourself but make sure it is done eloquently and without being pompous. There is a fine line between being confident and being boastful. Companies want someone who knows how to do the work, but also has strong soft skills. They do not want to hire someone who comes across as arrogant or unwilling to learn. If you are not sure how you are portraying yourself, have your Career Coach view your work.
6. Follow through
Whether it is an email, a phone call or a DM, make sure you follow up. This means if you receive a message, make sure to respond promptly. If you reach out and haven’t heard back from a lead, follow up with a message or phone call to see if you can reach them. The amount of work you put in is the number of results you will receive.
7. Ask for help or use your connections
Asking for help sounds easy, but it is a struggle for many of us. Use the connections you have built up if you need advice, considering changing careers or want to see how they use networking in their life. If you have no idea where to start, connect with your Career Coach, who will talk through any questions you still have.
Everyone deserves to enjoy what they do for a living, so make sure you are doing everything in your power to keep up your networking for positive posts, information, blogs or being able to connect with your peers. You never know when things may shift and having that support and connections will be beneficial to you in the future. Happy networking!