Networking for professional connections is a little like Dorothy trying to find her way home in the Wizard of Oz – all you have to do is look down and realize that the solution was right there with you all along.
The best way to network and get your foot in the door of a company is to deepen and strengthen the connections you already have. These might be former co-workers, college roommates or members of your Wednesday-night softball team, bowling group or card game.
Strengthening Existing Connections
The best thing about making an effort to strengthen an existing bond is that it should be fun. Meeting up with a colleague for coffee shouldn’t feel like work, and the professional dividends could pay off down the road.
One really efficient way to strengthen existing connections is to host a backyard barbecue, Super Bowl party or other event. Make sure to invite a few work colleagues and acquaintances that you already have a good rapport with.
You can also reconnect with former co-workers over social media. They’ll appreciate you reaching out to them on LinkedIn and hopefully realize that the benefits of networking go both ways.
Staying in touch with colleagues isn’t hard, but it does take some effort. With the modern prevalence of social media, there’s no real excuse why you shouldn’t be maintaining these relationships.
Making New Connections
In addition to reconnecting with people from your past, you will also want to make some new connections, and this also shouldn’t feel like work. It’s easy to expand your network by simply doing activities that are natural extensions of your own personality or profession.
The best way to make new connections is to get involved with a community or professional organization. These groups could be anything from those that do charity work to groups who meet up over a shared interest, like a cooking class or book club. Ideally, the organization could be one that allows you to utilize your professional skills and knowledge.
Another way to network is to expand your skill set by signing up for a class that teaches computer programming, public speaking or some other professional skill. Not only are these classes a great way to build your resume, they are also filled with people who could become part of your network.
Finally, you should consider going to events that will be attended by people in your industry. For example, computer programmers and others looking to land a job at a startup company will find that hackathons are a great venue for networking and picking up a few tips on the side.
At CAREERXCHANGE®, we know professional networking can feel like a job you don’t get paid for. To make networking a little easier, we host weekly job seminars complete with question-and-answer sessions that could be a chance to network. As one of the top talent acquisition firms in South Florida, we can also guide you toward events or organizations that you might be interested in. Just give us a call or stop in and we can get to work on growing your professional network.