We have all heard about the power of networks in the job hunt, but too many people still fall back on using online applying as their central job search method. However, internal referrals and inside validation of candidates still often act as the catalyst to eliminate or minimize the competition. To reach this status, a strong network is needed, and it does not mean that we all need to be extroverts. Here are some basic tips to help expand your network.
Ask members of your current network for referrals. The "friend-of-a-friend" connection is quite strong and can be very successful. "Who else should I be talking to?" is a good question to consider using when asking for referrals.
Ramp up your activities on social and professional networking sites. Add connections / friends. Make sure that your LinkedIn Profile is up-to-date and vibrant. Endorse skills of your connections and write sincere testimonials. Virtual connections can be further strengthened with face-to-face connections, when possible locally.
Join professional groups on LinkedIn. Then become active in participating in or starting discussions. Online networking is an excellent way to grow our networks beyond our geographic limitations.
Join professional associations with local chapter meetings. Then attend the meetings, get to know others, and look for opportunities to assist others. Reciprocation is natural and cooperation bonds people. Local affiliations often hold networking events. Take full advantage of such opportunities.
Volunteer. This is especially important for those in the social services field. Providing your time and effort to a needy cause is perhaps one of the strongest venues for networking because you are working side-by-side with people who share your passion for helping others.
Conduct informational interviews. This is an especially effective method for entry-level job seekers and career changers. As the name implies, this is an interview you set up with someone in your profession or industry who can provide you with an insider perspective. Not only do you gain insider information but you create a valuable contact. Keep it short and professional. Most people are happy to talk about their careers if it does not impinge too much upon their time.
As you grow your network, you will see that it snowballs in a very positive direction as long as you stay positive and professional.