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Via Madison.com : Is Networking Really That Important?

Every person you meet in both your professional and personal life might be the one who makes a key introduction for you later. That makes doing the groundwork of networking one of the most important things any person can do when it comes to advancing their career.

If you’re outgoing and unafraid of introducing yourself to strangers, making connections and networking may come naturally for you.

But if you’re shy or a bit introverted, it can be a painful process. Even so, it’s still important: You have to find ways to put yourself out there and create the network that may someday help you get where you want to go.

Whether it’s a cocktail party or a formal industry event, it’s important to meet people and build a network. Image source: Getty Images.

What is networking
Networking goes beyond just meeting people. It’s the process of creating a far-flung group of contacts that will theoretically help you advance your career. Creating that network involves connecting with people, and forging a bond that’s a bit deeper than just having them know your name.

In my early career when I traveled to trade shows, I took pictures of every person I spent time with (with an actual camera). Each night I made notes on the person, writing down some highlights of our conversation. If he or she had kids, liked the Red Sox, or was traveling to France, I made note of it in order to build the connection by having that personal knowledge at hand for the next time we met.

What can networking do for you?
Would you rather walk into a room where nobody knows you or walk into one where an acquaintance introduces you to a few people? Even if you still have to meet a lot of strangers, having a few warm contacts makes everything easier.

Some people may not genuinely love helping others, but most like being a hero. If someone in your network knows you are looking for a job and can recommend you to someone who needs to hire someone, that person becomes a hero to two people. Of course, some people do just want to help, and having them in your network can give you an advocate when you most need one.

Networking can be the difference
When many jobs come open, the person doing the hiring gets inundated with resumes. In many cases, more than a few people applying have the requisite qualifications, at least on paper.

If someone in your network knows the person doing the hiring, or even someone at the company, he or she can put a word in for you. That won’t get you the job, but it could get you an interview and at least a chance to sell yourself. In addition, if you and another candidate grade out similarly, the hiring person may go with you because of the indirect personal connection.

Networking isn’t easy
My biggest professional regret is that for the first 15 or so years of my now 24-year working life I did a bad job of keeping up with my connections. I networked plenty and met a lot of people, but in the days before social media, I let many of those connections slip away.

Now people have fewer excuses because technology makes it easier to keep in touch with people. Once you meet someone you can keep up the networking by engaging in an appropriate digital conversation. That has to be more than just sending a birthday greeting because Facebook tells you to. In general, it means sending a thoughtful message or even picking up a phone a few times a year to maintain the actual connection.

This is where the value of networking can increase exponentially. There’s a difference between someone having vague, fond feelings for you and him or her knowing you well enough to pick up the phone or send an email for you.

You must network
The broader your network, the easier your career will be. As you get more experienced networking become a two-way street as you will be able to help both younger people and those who once helped you.

If you choose to not network or let your relationships wither, you make your career harder and will likely lose out on opportunities. Building and nurturing your network may be the single most important thing (aside from being good at your job) in your working life.

Do it well and everything gets easier, more doors open for you, and more opportunities come your way. Fail to network well and you will see things you want go to other people as you say “if only I knew someone who could make an introduction.”

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via PR NewsThree Tips to Make Networking Successful and a Lifelong Activity

Look around your office. More than half the people you see may be looking for a new job. A Harris Poll in Indeed’s Talent Attraction Study found 71% of those in the labor force say they are looking or open to a new opportunity.

This is indicative of an empowered workforce. With a breadth of job boards, research tools, headhunters, recruitment agencies and career coaches ready, willing and available, the options seem endless.

The reality is that most people land jobs when resorting to good, old-fashioned networking. “At least 60%—some report even higher statistics—of all jobs are found by networking,” career consultant Alison Doyle writes at The Balance.

It’s imperative to make networking a lifelong commitment. At a certain point in our lives and careers we can easily become complacent in our roles and surroundings. We need to be sure to make an effort to invest personally, professionally, intellectually and socially in those individuals strategically placed in our path.

After college, I entered the workforce with a personal commitment to invest as much in the people I encountered as in the job itself. Whether your career has brought you to a brand, a PR agency or perhaps you work as an independent practitioner, the collegial relationships you proactively build as a result of networking can prove invaluable.

As communicators, we effortlessly excel at building rapport, engaging our connections and clients and leveraging established relationships. We carefully nurture these relationships as a natural course of business. Networking to gather intelligence may provide a competitive advantage, especially as silos between PR and marketing continue to dissipate and the PR industry evolves.

Below is a triad of innovative ways to approach networking from a practitioner whose communications and PR career began with a bird’s-eye view of a newsroom, moved to managing media, took her upstairs inside a boardroom and a few stops in between before arriving at PRSA:

Get Personal

You’ve established and amassed a plethora of contacts and added them to your smartphone and LinkedIn profile. These are virtual connections, courtesy of communications technology; however, what is your level of engagement with them? Have you reached out to contact them or do they receive an occasional automated notification when you’ve refreshed your profile? Why not be creative and differentiate yourself with a personalized, quarterly digital newsletter?

There’s a good chance you’ll be more effective in soliciting thoughtful feedback and fostering deeper, real-life dialogue. Try to avoid sending a standard, generic distribution to your entire contact list. Instead, make time to tailor your list. Address contacts by referencing the capacity in which you worked together, scenario in which you partnered or insight they’ve helped provide you.

Be a Joiner

By mid-career, you are (or should be) a member of a professional industry or trade association that provides access to enhanced skills development, seminars, conferences or local chapter meetings and events. If not, it’s time to join.

Use these forums as your next opportunity to be in the moment, unplugged from your laptop and smartphone and be truly present—especially in a room full of strangers. Networking is merely a continuum of the lifelong collection of conversations and interactions that stem from a lunch, dinner, social invitations, backyard barbeques, volunteer activities, religious and community organizations and continuing education seminars. Such settings organically lend themselves to the potential for connection and interaction. They are just another forum or venue that can present an opportunity to practice and enhance your communication skills.

Experiential, in-person communication evokes emotion and enthusiasm. It can set the tone for more authentic conversation where you share your sphere of influence.

Develop Your Message

Networking becomes most successful when you empower your connections and contacts and portray and articulate a clear image of your brand. You become an expert self-marketer by blending available digital talent solutions and resources with innate abilities and soft skills.

When discussing career aspirations, be prepared to communicate specifics such as the types of opportunities you would consider, concrete objectives and tangible ways in which the person may be of assistance. You also may be looking for professional introductions that lead to alternative employment, part-time, consulting or perhaps contract opportunities. Whatever the goal, your demeanor, persona and candor make you a walking business card. Be certain to practice and perfect your 30-second commercial. This is your advertisement, that perfectly succinct summation of your professional achievement, translatable skill set, strengths and objectives. You exemplify your brand, so exude talent, confidence and credibility.

You’ll find throughout the years that your coalition of contacts, peers and industry leaders are equally as engaged and invested in your success. When you make a conscious effort, lifelong networking breeds mentors, advocates, references and, sometimes, future employers. These individuals will most likely prove themselves to be your strongest proponents, greatest supporters and closest allies, offering an unwavering show of support.

via Business InsiderUsing These 4 Platforms Could Help You Network Your Way Into a Job

No matter what new technology or trends take over your industry, you can always count on one thing to help you succeed: your relationships with people.

You don’t need to force yourself to smile and be cool in stuffy, uncomfortable networking events to do that. Relationship-building is so much more than surface-level schmoozing over cheese cubes and cheap champagne in plastic flutes. Effective networking can open the door to opportunities you may never have considered before; you just need to do what you can to be helpful, earn trust, and focus on building better relationships.

Now, this isn’t to say you have to remove all modern tech to accomplish that. Whether you’re looking to grow your business, hire new employees, or get your foot in the door to a new career opportunity of your own, you can use technology to kickstart those relationships. To help, here are four tools and platforms to help you network your way into new opportunity in your career:


1. LinkedIn

What networking list would be complete without LinkedIn? This social network for professionals is a natural, valuable place to start when you’re looking to build your contacts, hire employees, or find out who’s hiring.

To make the most of the platform, it’s a mix of leveraging who you already know and who you want to know. Kindly ask your closest, warmest contacts to drop a recommendation or endorsement on your profile. Join LinkedIn Groups. Reach out to influential people in your space who you’d like to know and offer them a coffee in exchange for some time and insights. As long as you approach it with a helpful mindset and are authentic, I’ve found that most people are willing to return that sentiment and help you, too.

And remember, your professional brand and online presence have made their way into interviews right alongside your traditional résumé, so use this platform to build your brand. Engage with industry influencers, contribute content to LinkedIn, and stay in touch with current and former colleagues.

2. Purple Squirrel

In the same way LinkedIn gives you the chance to connect with people you want to know, Purple Squirrel gives job seekers access to people inside their dream company.

What’s unique about this platform is that a connection is practically guaranteed, as these internal advocates are on Purple Squirrel because they want to openly offer up their time to potential new hires for advice on interviews, résumés, and, if all goes well, an intro to the company through that employee’s referral. Of the messages sent on Purple Squirrel from job seekers to advocates, 85 percent are answered, compared to lower response rates on LinkedIn InMail or through direct email outreach.

This gives everyone equal opportunities to network, whether you already have a lot of people in your professional circle or not; you just pay a nominal fee set by the advocate. By leveraging a platform like this, you get the opportunity to break through the noise of the hundreds of people applying through job boards by connecting directly with a potential co-worker.


3. Meetup

Meetup’s goal is simple: Bring people together to do and discuss the things they love. Meetup empowers likeminded people to get together to learn, explore, play, and more, so if you’re looking to expand your network or learn more about an industry, don’t overlook the benefits of connecting with people while engaging in a shared interest. These interactions are low-pressure, genuine, and a sure way to establish a meaningful connection.

Continued learning and being a good culture fit are increasingly important, both to leaders and employees. Engaging with people in these authentic, out-of-work situations and doing things you love can help you learn and demonstrate your fit within a culture. Put yourself out there, commit to a few Meetups, and attend similar ones consistently to become top of mid with other members in your groups who could help you connect to your next big opportunity.

4. Public Groups on Slack and Facebook

Similar to Meetups, Facebook and Slack make it pretty easy to find and connect with future employers, employees, and partnerships. The benefit here is that you’re not restricted by your geographic location, so this is great for people looking to tap into a new market for their next opportunity.

Plus, there’s always value in connecting with people where they already are, and chances are that Facebook and Slack are two of those places. Unlike more formal networking sites like LinkedIn that you may only check a few times a week, most of us check Facebook more frequently to stay connected more personally. Search these platforms for groups that interest you both personally and professionally, and dive in.

People tend to think of networking with a narrow, traditional view of some business leaders standing around a room with name tags, asking others what they thought of that last speaker at their event. Networking can happen in these settings; I’ve personally seen some success in just being personable and helpful with people at in-person events. But there are plenty of tools out there to give you a boost and make those connections faster, and these four are a good place to start.

via psnews : Reverse Networking: Why Giving Rather Than Getting Helps Your Career

From the moment you’re plunged into the working world, the importance of networking is pounded into your head.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and while you can’t be completely devoid of skill, having valuable connections can certainly make a difference in your career.

Networking, of course, is a leading way to make those important professional connections that can influence your career trajectory.

Create Network

In fact, a 2016 LinkedIn survey found that up to 85 per cent of jobs are found by networking. Clearly it’s an important tool, but could we be doing it better?

I say it’s time we turn the traditional concept of networking on its head. The heart of networking is really quite selfish. You’re connecting with others in hopes that it provides you with personal gains in some way.

It could be so you can get the inside scoop on job openings. It may be for a good reference. It might open speaking engagement opportunities or invitations to industry events.

Bottom line: It’s all about you. Networking should be more than that.

Sure there are benefits for you, but what about the other person?

Sometimes the most satisfying and rewarding networking conversations are when you forgo your aspirations and goals to help someone else.

Helping out

This is why reverse networking makes so much sense.

Reverse networking is where you create networks where other people benefit from you. You’re helping them out by being a sponsor, mentor or career confidant. Beside the warm fuzzies that come from helping others, why would you take the time out of your busy schedule to do this? There are many reasons that make reverse networking a valuable tool in your career-building arsenal.

Create Network

Boosts reputation:

Want to be known as the smart, insightful, helpful professional who is the go-to in your respective field?

Reverse networking can do wonders for your personal brand. It helps demonstrate you’re the whole package, with a generous heart to boot.

Proves leadership ability:

Stepping in to help a colleague conveys leadership aptitude. What’s more, you show you can be trusted to assist when it’s needed most. Those are the characteristics that make a great boss and an effective executive.

Word of mouth:

Reverse networking is guerrilla marketing on a personal level. When you assist others, people may spread the good news. This positive word-of-mouth gets around, and all of a sudden your name is elevated in social and professional circles.

What goes around comes around:

Reverse networking should never be done with any expectation of receiving something in return; however, when you scratch someone’s back, don’t be surprised when they willingly scratch yours. Karma is a good thing.

Lasting relationships:

Being a trusted contact builds incredibly strong relationships.

These aren’t the one-off meetings where you chat and part ways. You’ll enjoy deep, meaningful connections with people who will positively impact your professional life for decades.

See the value?

I challenge you to try reverse networking. Seek out a new relationship or start a conversation with the primary goal being to help someone else.

Take a chance on them. When you stop focusing on yourself and start focusing more on others, I think you’ll find the rewards you get from the experience to be outstanding.

via Forbes : Networking Or Job Boards? Nine Strategies To Find Your Next Role

As you take advantage of the changing job market to find a new or better position, there are a lot of options to consider. Should you spend time on sites like LinkedIn or Craigslist, or should you send out a call for aid to your personal network to see who can offer referrals?

Experts say to do both, with a focus on networking: Personal interaction can generate stronger results than responding to posted ads. However, online sites have their own advantages: Candidates can gain a broader sense of what type of help companies need and how much they’re willing to pay. Job seekers can also establish their own blogs or sites, in order to help establish a personal brand.

Below, nine Forbes Coaches Council members talk about job search strategies and how you should prioritize spending time between online resources and networking.

1. Share Your Branding Via BeBee

Hunting and applying for jobs online is frequently frustrating and fruitless. The best way to search for jobs online is to become “the hunted” by developing a strong online personal brand. LinkedIn is currently the go-to place to build your online presence where you can showcase your talents. BeBee is a fast-growing network for building your holistic brand of personal and professional interests. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC

2. Get Off The Job Boards To Find Your Next Job

If you have spent the last eight hours posting for jobs online, you’ve wasted seven hours and 50 minutes. Job boards are the least effective method of search: less than 5% of people find their jobs that way. Even the LinkedIn jobs section is only as good as the strength of the relationships you have with decision makers on LinkedIn. Get off the job boards and start talking to people. – Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

3. Optimize Your Network To Get First In Line

The best way to land a new job is networking, which offers a success rate much higher than any job board, including LinkedIn’s (which is run by Simply Hired). Build out your networks in your target industries, and leverage connections and thought leadership to boost your visibility in the market. Gain access to key decision makers before they advertise open jobs. Get first in line! – Cheryl Lynch Simpson, Executive Resume Rescue

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

4. Interact With People, Not Machines

What percentage of people get hired online? There are many statistics on this, and they are universally abysmal. But by all means, search online to research what kinds of jobs you might like. Then network, network, network. Tell everybody you comfortably can about the type of work you are seeking. Interact with people, not machines. Seek and you will find. – James Lopata, InnerOvation

5. Attend Meetup.com Events

By the time a job is posted anywhere, you’re already at a disadvantage against the candidate who has a relationship with the hiring manager. Attending Meetup.com events in your industry is a good way to make new connections, while Shapr helps you connect with relevant professionals who are actively networking. – Taylor Jacobson, Focusmate

6. Tap Into Aggregator Sites

For executives, I suggest focusing primarily on building your brand on LinkedIn. Aggregator sites like Indeed.com should not be ignored, and a gem or two can be found on Craigslist. But LinkedIn carries the brand promise and power for most people. Recruiters can see your bio, find out about you as a professional and volunteer. They can see your professional behavior and interactions in groups. – John O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

7. Automate The Search

The strength of a job board lies in the number and validity of posts, searchability and relevance to your career goals. Identify three sites that are relevant for you and set-up weekly search agents to deliver new results to your inbox. Automating this step will keep you informed about new openings, but will free up time and energy for more lucrative job-seeking activities, like networking. – Lindsey Day, Magnetic Career Consulting

8. Job Hunting Is A Numbers Game

I always relate job hunting to dating: It’s a numbers game. If we knew what worked, we would all do it. What’s most important is a consistent, dedicated and diverse effort of online and offline activity. Set goals for time spent online searching, as well as in-person referrals and meetings. Remember: Just like dating, it only takes one to be the right one. – Julie Colbrese, Hot Coffee Coaching

9. Attract Your Next Opportunity, Do Not Apply!

When only 10 to 15% of job seekers’ results come from advertised openings, there is no best place to look. Creating a niche that speaks to your target audience’s pain points, and building relationships with their needs in mind, is best. This replaces scanners with a human, and also gives you the competitive advantage as you sidestep the vortex of other job seekers who may look like you on paper. – Grace Totoro, TransitionsByGrace. LLC