Networking to advance your career is more than going to events hoping to meet a recruitment specialist with available jobs. There is great benefit to initiating and maintaining contact with individuals who can facilitate your career progression.
This is a guest post from a previous client with extensive networking experience
In my experience, the most effective networking habits leading to successful career development, involve knowing what types of jobs one wants in his or her immediate and longer term future. It is much more proactive than going to events to simply meet as many people as possible and hoping one of them is a recruitment officer.
What has worked for me a number of times is to seek out people currently in jobs I would like to have one day; not necessarily individuals responsible for recruitment of those jobs. I’ve done this by networking with friends, colleagues and even family members to let them know my overall career plans. Undoubtedly, someone will know someone else in a job or at least the industry in which I plan on working.
At this point, I simply ask for an introduction with no hidden agendas, stating I would like to learn more about working in the industry. Once I get introduced to the person, usually via e-mail or sometimes in person, I ask that person if I might buy them lunch or a cup of coffee. As many times as I’ve done this, the individual has never turned me down, nor have they expected me to actually buy them lunch. Instead, I’ve met with them either over coffee or in their office to learn about job prospects in the career direction I intend to follow.
The follow-up is the most important part of this process. I don’t expect to get a phone call from a recruitment officer the next day. Instead, I make it a point to stay in touch with the people I meet. Without being too aggressive, I find valid reasons to maintain open lines of communication. In the beginning, this is as simple as asking someone to review my CV, or following up on a particular subject we’d discussed during our meeting.
After this, it gets a bit more creative, such as forwarding a link to an article about a person’s company, or even a newspaper clipping with a note of interest. It is also just as effective to simply send an e-mail to keep in touch, even reminding the person of my career goals, and what types of jobs I may have learned about since we met. It is important to keep the contact professional, and not overwhelming.
While some of these contacts may come to nothing, for me this form of networking has often worked very well. When one of the individuals with whom I’ve been maintaining contact hears of a position within his or her firm, or even a competitor’s firm, I’ve been recommended to call either a person who has a job opportunity, or a specific recruitment specialist within the organisation.
The importance of having my name recommended by an industry insider based on my proactive networking efforts, instead of my CV having been received in the mail, is overwhelming. In many cases, this has been as good as a recommendation, and several times it’s resulted in career advancement by getting jobs I specifically targeted during my efforts.