When people think of networking, they envision a formal event with important and wealthy businesspeople. However, networking is more than simply attending events. Its purpose is to make contacts. As the saying goes, “It is not what you know, but who you know.”
According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Furthermore, 70% of jobs are not even listed on any job search websites. This clearly implies there is a “hidden” job market. Therefore, a job seeker has better odds of landing a job through a networking event rather than spending hours on online job boards applying for hundreds of jobs.
The goal of networking is to make contacts with people who will do business with you; or introduce or refer you to people who will do business with you. This can also relate to those who are seeking employment. If you have a particular organisation you want to work for, or perhaps you have a particular person who you want to work for, it is important to try and reach out to them, or those they are affiliated with, in networking events. Particularly for mums looking to get back into work, networking events can be an invaluable tool to get you back into the line of work which you were accustomed to before your career break.
A common setback for introverts is that they see networking events only for those who are outgoing and have bubbly personalities. However, this is not necessarily true. The key is to be prepared and ask the right questions so you can guide the conversation where you want it to go.
Always follow up with those who you made contact with, especially within a day or two, while you are still fresh in the other person’s mind. Remind them of who you are and what your skills and qualifications are and of anything specific that you discussed.
To resonate a professional image, always remember to carry your business cards with you everywhere. Even if you are not at a networking event, you can always network informally by pitching your business or ideas to anyone you meet, whether at church, the grocery store, parents at the school run, or even the person working out next to you at the gym. It is also important be proactive. Don’t socialize with the same people. Keep trying to meet new people as you never know who can help you get to where you want. Get involved with community organisations, join the board or committees, and volunteer in different projects to have access to different skills for your personal growth, but also to have maximum opportunities to network.
Another key to successful networking is to be reciprocal. Networking is not just for a person’s personal gain. Perhaps you can also help other people and refer them to your contacts which you made in previous events. In the future, there can be benefits for you also in whatever leads or referrals you provide for others.
You can search for upcoming networking events in your area on Social Media sites. There are also many networking groups for women that you can also join.