You can never underestimate the power of networking. Often success is directly proportional to the size of the social circle.
Whether you are looking for an entry level job or wanting to climb the career ladder you will need some kind of networking savvy in order to survive in the business world.
If you are looking for an entry level job your networking skills might be more important than the quality of your CV. Research shows that most jobs are obtained through contacts before the jobs even become open to the general public. In the established business world strong networking skills are shown to be one of the most powerful predictors in success. If you struggle with people skills and need some help expanding your network read on.
You will need to collect up all the business cards and contact numbers of the people you already know. Make one central place where you keep all your contacts' information.
The Internet opens up a myriad of opportunities for those nervous about networking and interpersonal skills. With email and web sites you can reach a wider network than you ever could the 'old fashioned way'. Even building a simple website could open up many new (international) contacts and opportunities. If you are able to effectively network online can be one of the most effective tools for those seeking jobs. Discussion forums, newsgroups, discussion groups and exchange ideas - and most importantly contact details.
There is no substitute for good old fashioned networking. You cannot replace the value of a first impression or underestimate the importance of really meeting people vs meeting online (although online meetings can reduce the stress and pressure associated with the first meeting).
If you are hesitant about networking because you lack confidence, then perhaps consider joining an organization such as Toastmasters. This is a public speaking organization which will help you build confidence and you can join from anywhere in the world. An added bonus - you will meet many new contacts and expand your circles.
Get creative with your networking. Look for opportunities to meet people and widen your social and business circles. If you are new to the job market, here are some networking strategies for first time job seekers. If you are looking for a job you need to keep expanding your network continually.
1. Make sure you understand how to use the internet to search effectively. Use all ways you can think of to come across new opportunities as they arrive
2. Create a spreadsheet or table, of all your contacts. Add as much information as you can: things like company names, titles, names of key contacts, phone numbers, and emails - any information you can. Leave space for notes and keep your table as organized and up to date as possible.
3. Regular contact: this is vital to the success of your network. Use any opportunity to connect. Ask advice, offer information you think will be useful to them - find reasons to communicate. When they respond make sure to thank them. It's important not to take your network for granted.
4. Initiate face to face contact whenever possible.
5. Never pass up an opportunity to get out there and network. If you are in an industry that requires more networking and socializing then limit the amount of times you may say 'no'. For example for every 2 invitations you turn down you must attend one.
6. Collect your contacts and feel free to call on them should the need arise.
7. Thank your contacts whenever they do something for you. Always be polite and courteous and do your best to respond to them timorously too. You want to come across as professional.