Importance of networking: The Why, When, Where, Benefits & Mistakes

 

Networking is defined as the use of personal contacts to aid in a job search or even career advancement.

Contacts can ranger from personal to professionals you’ve only met once.  Starting with those whom you know the best is typically results in somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.  Networking is simply using humans to create bridges to places you want to go or positions you want to hold. Studies reveal that about 70% of hires result from the human connection, or networking.

Employers also report that they prefer to interview a candidate who has been referred by a friend, employee, or co-worker.   Networking saves companies thousands of dollars in headhunting fees, agency fees, and ads.  Many jobs never make it to the newspaper ad sections, the online job banks or even to a search agency; they are filled by the results of networking.

The old adage of “It’s who you know, not what you know” proves true in many cases.

When and where do I network?  All the time and everywhere!  Even if you are happy in your current job position, it is always beneficial to widen your professional circle of contacts.  Experts state that the fastest method of garnering knowledge and real-life experience is from other people. Networking puts people together, fostering a mutually beneficial environment.

Beyond the water cooler, joining professional associations, local alumni clubs, church groups, and even parent teacher organizations are great places to start the networking process. And, networking needs to be an active verb, a life-long journey – definitely not a destination.

An individual who excels at the art of networking possesses the following characteristics:  Attention to appearance/ well-dressed/ neat/ clean; ALWAYS has clean business cards, polite, grateful, positive and upbeat, eager to praise and pass along praise heard from others.  Moreover, an excellent networker keeps in touch at all times– not just during downturns or bad times.  Finally, the networker is always quick to write a thank you note, or return a phone call.  Written notes and business cards are considered tangible rewards and have a lasting effect.

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Is networking always done in person?  No.  While face-to-face connection is always the best, time constraints and geographical limitations at time preclude this type of interaction.  Realistically, a combination of both real life and online connection is the best.

 

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