Networking isn’t just for those looking for a new job. It’s beneficial for anyone, whether you’re actively employed but looking to grow your skills or simply looking to make connections with people who share your same interests and goals.
This is why career networking, along with other types of networking, is important. In this post, we’ll discuss career networking and give tips on how to do it effectively.
What is career networking?
Career networking is using your relationships to help you achieve your career goals, level up in your skills, get actionable advice, or learn about and find new job opportunities.
Your career network can be made up of personal, professional, and academic connections, even neighbors that work at a company you’re interested in.
Why is career networking important?
It might seem daunting to reach out to strangers if you’re feeling vulnerable career-wise, but career networking can be a valuable rewarding experience. It can:
- Help you build a network of like-minded career professionals who share your interests.
- Help you gain valuable advice and feedback about your career journey and goals from people in your industry.
- Help you learn more about other companies you’re interested in and have conversations with current employees if you’re considering a position change.
- Help you discover job openings that match your interests that you might not find in your own search.
9 Career Networking Tips
Now that we’ve discussed why it’s important let's go over some career networking tips to help you make the most of your opportunities.
1. Figure out your career interests before you start networking.
Knowing what you’re interested in will make your career networking so much more effective. You’ll have clear areas of focus, the industries you should be looking in to build connections, and the companies that speak to your career interests that you can learn more about.
It also helps you explain your interests to your connections, giving them a clear picture of how you can support each other and the kinds of opportunities they should let you know about.
2. Review the network you already have.
Chances are, you likely already have a network to leverage even if you don’t think you do; you might just need to set aside time to track these people down, whether it’s through LinkedIn or sending a reconnection email and beginning your process from there.
For example, if you learn that a former classmate has a position related to your career goals, you can send a LinkedIn invitation to connect and include a brief note saying you’d love to learn more about how they landed their job at the company they work at. You already know this person, and you’re simply building on the relationship they have to learn more about your career interests in a beneficial way.
3. Get involved in professional organizations.
Joining a relevant professional organization is a great way to build a career network with people in your industry. These organizations can often host events where you can meet people, learn about job openings, and develop relationships with people who share similar interests so you can support each other throughout your career journeys.
Many professional organizations also offer unique membership benefits, like access to job boards and relevant career resources.
4. Attend industry events.
Industry events are a great way to meet people in your field and grow your skills.
These events are often headlined by speakers and industry experts who offer valuable insight into your career path and interests. And you can connect with people, position yourself as a valuable network connection, and build relationships that can help you develop your professional abilities to continue building your ideal career path.
5. Follow up after meeting someone new.
When you establish a connection, make sure to follow up. Whether you exchange business cards, connect on LinkedIn, or simply exchange contact information, following up is a great way to keep the conversation going and build a mutually beneficial relationship.
6. Connect with professionals online.
You can also network online, especially on LinkedIn. It’s a professional community of career-oriented individuals posting content about their industry and career, interacting with others, and sharing valuable insight and information that can benefit your career journey, whether it’s offering mentorship opportunities or posting job openings.
LinkedIn also has niche groups and pages to join specific to certain industries or career paths where you can engage with like-minded individuals who share your same interests and are also looking to develop connections.
7. Make Your Networking Valuable for the Other Person
Career networking should always be mutually beneficial, so aim to figure out how you can add value to your connections. For example, you can share resources and learning material that you’ve gathered from your research or offer to make an introduction to someone you know because you recognize the potential for a beneficial partnership between the two of them.
When relationships are valuable for both parties, they’re more likely to last longer as you help each other further your careers and achieve your goals.
8. Be proactive and take the initiative.
If you see a career networking opportunity, don’t be afraid to take the initiative and reach out. Whether it’s sending a LinkedIn message, introducing yourself at an event, or simply striking up a conversation with someone you met, being proactive will help you make valuable connections that can change the course of your career journey.
9. Focus on quality, not quantity.
As mentioned, career networking should help you create mutually beneficial relationships. It should also help you speak to the right people, who align with your interests, industry, and career goals, as this ensures you’re the most aligned with your career trajectory, focused, and having conversations relevant to your goals.
Career Networking is Beneficial to Everyone
Career networking can sometimes feel challenging and overwhelming. Still, it benefits professionals in all industries, levels of expertise, and those who are employed or seeking new opportunities.