How to Network Like a Professional: Easy Tips To Get You Ahead of the Competition
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Remember the saying ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’? Connecting with new people who could improve your career prospects is incredibly worthwhile. But networking can be a challenge, whether it involves entering a room full of strangers or perfecting your LinkedIn profile.
Feeling nervous? Follow these tips and you’ll soon be networking like a pro.
Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is…everyone can and should be a networker.
If the thought of attending a networking event gives you sweaty palms, a dry mouth and a churning stomach, you’ll be glad to know that a little forward planning could transform the experience. You might even find that you enjoy it!
The Benefits of Face-to-Face Networking
How to Prepare For Your Networking Event
Before attending a face-to-face networking event, we suggest asking for a list of attendees so that you can take a look at their social media profiles. Once you’ve identified some potential new connections, why not engage with them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter before your event takes place? Using social media in this way will boost your confidence and help you to recognise a few people.
If you’re a networking newbie, it’s also worth connecting with event organisers via social media, as they may offer to greet you and introduce you to a few attendees. Many events have their own Twitter hashtag, so find out whether yours has one and use it to your advantage.
At some point during your networking event, you’ll have the chance to talk about yourself. To make the most of this opportunity it’s a good idea to prepare ahead. Start by jotting down some notes about your work experience, your skills, your achievements and your career goals, then shape these into a couple of informal paragraphs. Don’t forget to practice saying your summary out loud plenty of times before the big day arrives.
Finally, we recommend planning a handful of light conversation starters such as “how was your journey?” “what do you think of the venue?” and “why are you interested in this event?” Thinking about your own responses to these questions could also prove helpful.
Of new jobs are filled either internally or by netowkring
On the Day
If you don’t know any of the other people who are attending your event it’s always wise to arrive early, before too many groups have formed. This will enable you to join a table of just one or two people and form your own group. Alternatively, you could sit at the bar while you order a drink or have a look at the leaflets on the promotions table.
When people approach you, simply smile, introduce yourself and offer a warm handshake. Try to make eye contact and be a good listener, as this will help you to decide whether you could solve any of their issues. If you think you can help, mention what you do and suggest swapping business cards. It’s also worth doing this if you think they could be a valuable connection.
Don’t be too disappointed if you only make a handful of new contacts, as it takes time to build new working relationships. However, if you’ve exchanged business cards with someone, do follow up by sending them a polite reminder email a few days after the event.
of employers use social media to screen candidates before they hire them
Social media platforms provide plenty of opportunities to build your network, search for jobs and engage directly with recruiters. To impress potential employers, it’s best to keep your profiles consistent, so always use the same profile picture and email address.
When it comes to networking online, LinkedIn is the place to be. Once you’ve chosen a friendly but professional profile image, you’ll need to come up with the headline that appears underneath your name. This will automatically feature your job and your employer, but to stand out from the crowd you should try to include at least one benefit to the reader. For example, if you create content for websites you could write: “Powering digital marketing strategies with top class has written content.”
Your LinkedIn summary is next, and this enables you to provide extra detail about the projects and achievements you’re proud of. Try to choose projects that demonstrate the skills employers are looking for and sprinkle your sentences with keywords that appear in relevant job descriptions or adverts, as this will make it easier for employers to find you. It’s also worth stating how you’d like your career to develop.
Job Description Section
When you’re completing the job description section, describe each role, your responsibilities and your main achievements. Use keywords where you can. There’s also a section where you can enter your skills, which can be endorsed by previous employers. Finally, if you have a portfolio to share, LinkedIn allows you to showcase some of your work.
Perfected your profile? Then you’re ready to start making new connections. Begin with people you already know, including current or previous employers, colleagues, clients, friends and family members. You can then use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find people who work for the companies and organisations you admire. But avoid simply sending a request without any note, as you’ll always make a better impression if you explain why you’d like to connect. Once you’ve connected with someone you’ll be able to see their previous employers, so find out whether it’s worth adding any of them to your growing network. Follow the companies and organisations you’re interested in so that you can look out for job vacancies, company updates and relevant articles. It’s also worth joining industry-specific groups to improve your industry knowledge.
Now that you’ve made some connections, try to keep them informed by adding regular posts and articles. Limited to 1300 characters, LinkedIn posts are ideal for sharing experiences and anecdotes, whereas articles are more in-depth, allowing you to showcase your expertise. The more comments or shares your posts and articles receive, the more people see your profile.
With its tweets, retweets and hashtags, Twitter provide the perfect platform for engaging directly with employers. While your 160 character biography should mention key facts such as your job and where you work, you can also use it to add a little personality to your profile. For example, freelance copywriter Megan Rose’s bio begins with the words: “Worker, writer, tweeter. Thinker, maker, chocolate- eater.”
How to Network on Twitter
To network on Twitter, you need to follow the companies and organisations you’d like to work for, as many of these will use the platform to post new opportunities. Use hashtags like #jobsearch and #NowHiring to find job opportunities quickly.
Join the Discussion
You can also use Twitter to keep up with industry developments and trends. The best way to become more visible is to join in with discussions by using mentions, likes, retweets and comments. Alternatively, get your own dialogue going by tweeting about topical issues and retweeting relevant content. Always aim to make your tweets interesting and include images or other media if you can, as these will help you to stand out on Twitter feeds.
If you create content that you’re proud of, make sure that you tweet about it. To attract the attention of employers or influencers you admire, simply include their Twitter handle in your tweet and you might find that you get a direct response. This happened to copywriter Anna Whitehouse after she wrote an article about the Big Issue Magazine’s library campaign. When Anna tweeted about her article she included the magazine founder’s Twitter handle and within five minutes, he had commented on her article and retweeted her original tweet.
There are 250 million active Facebook users. When Facebook first became popular it was seen as an informal platform for sharing photos and keeping in touch with friends. However, many people now use it to expand their professional network, while most companies and organisations have their own page.
Employers admit that they scour the social media accounts of potential employees and job applicants, so you’ll need to bear this in mind if you use Facebook for networking. Do you really want your images, photo albums and personal details to be viewed by every employer? If not, you have two choices. You can either set up a completely separate professional account or you can adjust your privacy settings.
If you decide to stick with one Facebook account you’ll need to give it a professional makeover, even if you restrict what potential employers can see. Keep your profile picture consistent and include plenty of detailed information about your education, work experience and skills, incorporating appropriate keywords wherever possible. Make any public posts interesting and relevant and share links to content that’s related to your industry.
Once you’re happy with your profile, you can use your account to follow the companies, organisations and people you aspire to work for. Read their updates, share their articles and engage with them by participating in discussions. You can also make industry connections by joining relevant groups. To find these, either type your keywords into the search box or click on ‘groups’ and select ‘discover’.
LinkedIn influencer Lou Adler believes that networking should about meeting “a few well-connected people who can vouch for your ability and who are willing to refer you to a few other well-connected people.” Take our networking tips on board and you’ll be bringing those high-quality connections one step closer.