Ask any successful business leader or career savvy individual about their greatest career advancement secrets and you can be sure the subtle art of networking will sit amongst the top three on their list.
Anyone wishing to get on in business needs to put time into broadening their pool of contacts in order to gain advice, explore new job options, draw referrals, garner new leads and generally keep up to date on what's happening in their line of work.
Effective networking, whether in person or online through social networks, will remain a constant and edifying aspect of your career advancement armoury, from your first steps onto the jobs market through to your retirement and beyond.
On the most clinical level, your ability to exploit the unadvertised job market through networking can give you a real advantage over other suitable candidates while, on a more general level, networking can help you generate invaluable advice or even life-long friendships.
While networking on a person-to-person basis may come naturally to some, it's an area where others might need to brush up their skills a little. Here are some key networking tips:
- Never be afraid to call or meet with leads recommended to you - people generally love to talk and give advice
- Ask family, friends, alumni, lecturers, associates for leads
- Use your contact names well when following up with potential leads
- Send speculative letters that present you as a solution to a problem
- Secondments, shadowing and committee work increase your marketability
- Cultivate external clients to leverage at a later date
Participating in online social networks is a proven method of making new contacts and keeping in touch with the world that matters to you. With so many people using LinkedIn, Xing and Viadeo(amongst others) to advance their career, you cannot afford to ignore the power of online networking. Here are some key tips on how to enhance your online networking efforts:
- Use online CV builders to pitch your skills and experience
- Include key words relevant to your role and industry in your profile and CV
- Activate testimonials - a powerful endorsement of your abilities
- Add a professional looking photo to your profile
- Contribute articles, advice and opinion on relevant forums to raise your visibility
- Don't put anything on the net that could undermine your credibility