When you are seeking a new job or are making contacts as part of your business, networking plays a key part. Networking is the process of interacting with others to exchange information or experiences for mutual benefit. There are so many ways that you network in your personal and professional lives and for many reasons.
You network when you meet new people at a party and perhaps you talk to someone who has a similar interest to you. In a formal situation, you network at professionally run networking events, or by talking to people you know and trust.
If you are seeking a new job, you can find out more about a career, and ask for information from people who already work in that area. You can make contacts with people who may be able to offer opportunities to you, and if you are lucky, be in the right place at the right time!
For those in business, networking is a great opportunity to help you to meet other people who work in a similar business to you, or make contacts who can support you or your business.
So, how do you network?
1. Talk to people you already know - who do they know who can offer you advice or information to help you?
2. Research your profession - use trade journals or websites to find people who can help you.
3. Join a professional organisation - find a professional institution where you can meet potential contacts or organisations, or attend interesting presentations.
4. Join a local networking group. You can meet with like-minded people, promote your skills or your business, and share experiences with other people.
5. Go along to local events such as careers fairs, or other events that are linked closely to your career or business.
6. If you don't think you are confident enough to go to networking events, go along anyway and act “as if". If you believe you are self-assured, you will come across this way. And remember there will be other people who feel like you too!
7. Remember who you meet. If you take someone's business card, make a few notes on the back of their card - such as where you met them and what you talked about.
8. Preparation is key when you attend a networking event. Think about who you want to meet and what you want to say. If you are trying to find a particular type of contact, ask people to help you to meet this person.
9. Maintain your network - follow up any leads soon after the event so you don't miss great opportunities. Also, keep in touch with people - a simple email or telephone call will help you to keep in touch with your contacts, as you never know what opportunity may be around the corner.
10. Also, networking doesn't have to be face to face, there are great ways of connecting with people online, through the many networking groups such as Ecademy or social networking sites, such as Facebook.
But remember that networking isn't just about building a group of transient people, it is important to create a network of people who are supportive and can help you. Good luck!
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Copyright Karen Williams 2008. All Rights Reserved
Karen Williams is a Life and Career Development Coach and runs her own coaching practice, Self Discovery Coaching. She has over ten years experience of working in Human Resources, training, coaching and management roles and is a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
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