Networking With Purpose

Eight ways to build stronger relationships

8 August 2014

The following is a version of an article that originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer.

If you’re unemployed and looking to get back into the workforce, or just want to take the next step in your career, networking is important. But even if you have a job, and are happy with it, that doesn’t diminish the value of building a strong professional network. Your contacts can prove to be a priceless source of unadvertised job leads. Cultivating, generously supporting, and managing your relationships can open doors to new opportunities.

Here are eight ways to connect with and leave a lasting impression on people who could help you attain your career goals.

  1. Determine which industry or type of employer would be the best fit for you, and where you most want to work.
  2. Take stock of what makes you valuable, including your skills, knowledge, talent, professional relationships, and work experience.
  3. Position yourself as the go-to expert in your job. Share your success stories with those you are networking with to confirm your ability to meet challenges, reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve processes.
  4. Make sure to practice your elevator pitch in which you succinctly state your work experience, demonstrate your value, and express what you are looking for in a job.
  5. Make sure your contacts have easy access to your résumé, LinkedIn profile, white papers you’ve written, and other resources.
  6. Participate in virtual and in-person events such as job fairs so that you can meet—and promote yourself to—new contacts.
  7. Be patient. Don’t expect instant results; relationships take time. Not all networking interactions will be immediately rewarding, but they may lead to a great opportunity down the line.  
  8. Don’t ignore or abandon relationships. The next time you find yourself in the job market or one of your contacts needs help, you should be able to rely on each other, and not first have to reestablish a connection. Once you are part of an inner circle, nurture your relationships to create a loyal, mutually beneficial network. If you don’t, you will find yourself playing catch-up while other job seekers are privy to the inside information that could have been yours. Networking is forever.

Debra Feldman is a career consultant and founder of Job Whiz.

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