If you’re looking for your next job, there’s nothing more important than building your professional network. According to career experts, the best hires come from referrals or word of mouth. Employers rely on employees and trusted colleagues to recommend good candidates. This is why networking is one of the most effective ways of finding a job.
The good news is that you already have a strong foundation of colleagues, classmates, and friends, and social media make it easy to create professional relationships outside your immediate circle.
Here are five practical steps you can take now to develop a valuable professional network:
1. Reconnect. Ever wonder where past classmates have landed? Or that favorite boss from your last job? It is likely that these connections can provide insight and access to ideas and opportunities. Among the ACS Network (www.acs.org/network), LinkedIn, and Facebook, it is easy to locate them and reconnect. When reconnecting, take the time to catch up and rebuild the relationship, whether you get together online or over a cup of coffee.
2. Connect. Add a personal element to your professional relationships. When people have a personal connection, they are more willing to share and lend a hand. Get to know the people you interact with professionally. Ask about their family or their plans for the weekend. Getting to know more about them will strengthen your network and improve your working relationships.
3. Grow. Your network can grow exponentially as you build relationships through social media or events such as ACS local section and national meetings. Set a goal to meet two or three new people at an event or online every month. Ask about what they do and what they are interested in, and try to find connections. Trade contact information with those you’d like to get to know better, then make sure to follow up.
4. Respond. It’s easy to get inundated with e-mail and invitations to connect online, but if you want to build a strong network, it’s important to keep communications flowing. Don’t ignore requests for help from others, and respond to those seeking advice. If you can’t help, refer them to those who can.
5. Give. Relationships are built on reciprocity. Provide information to others. To do so, remember what’s important to them. Refer back to your notes—where you met, interests, discussion topics, etc. Share articles or papers you think would be of interest or reference a sport or hobby they follow. Keeping connected with your contacts builds valuable, lasting relationships.
Networking is one of the most successful ways to find a new job, and you never know when you might need to make a job change.
Get Involved In The Discussion
The Career Tips column will be posted on the ACS Network and the ACS Careers website (www.acs.org/careers), where you’re encouraged to get involved in the discussion. Tell us what you think about the articles and share your experiences. Also, let us know what you’d like us to address in future columns to help you and your colleagues reach your career goals.