Every time I look at new job postings on Indeed, I can’t help but think of that age-old adage. Even the lowest paying positions have applicants and those dream jobs with great benefits and high pay? They receive hundreds of applications every day. Most people applying have similar degrees and experience, so how do companies decide who to hire? Often, it becomes a game of who you know.
A large professional network is a great way for potential job seekers to get their foot in the door when applying for a job. Employers prefer to hire the candidate they know, so applicants with a larger professional network have an advantage over those who don’t.
A strong network is helpful beyond just getting a new job though. Creating professional relationships can help bring new clients to your firm, connect you with industry leaders, and help you grow in your field.
Here are six strategies for making connections and growing a professional network.
Connect with other alumni and former professors.
Having the shared bond of a college or university can be a helpful icebreaker when connecting with new people. Find ways to connect online or by attending events. This can be a great place to start when trying to build up your network.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
One of the easiest ways to meet new people is to use the contacts that you already have. Ask your co-workers about people in their network and who has been a beneficial connection. Reaching out as a friend of a friend will have much better results than blindly contacting someone.
Not only is volunteering a great way to give back in your community, it’s also a great chance to network with people in the area. Bonding with other professionals over shared interests is a great way to start a professional relationship. The relaxed atmosphere will also take the pressure off you and keep the situation from feeling forced.
Use online resources.
LinkedIn is a great tool for anyone who wants to quickly grow their professional network. Just creating the account isn’t enough though; make sure to actively update your profile and connect with others. Share industry news and relevant information about what you are currently working on or topics you are interested in.
Asking to pick someone’s brain regarding the work they do or their organization is a great way to build up your network. The opportunity to have an in-depth interview with someone will open the door for future contact. This is an easy way to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet.
Attend events and workshops.
The easiest way to meet new people is to just get out there and do it. Going to local events will enable you to meet a lot of people and will allow you the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations. You can pick and choose what kind of events you go to based on what best fits your needs.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that networking is about more than just handing your business card to as many people as possible. Don’t make it all about you and remember that you are trying to build a lasting professional relationship.