By Ohniece Miller, WSM Career Specialist
The ability to network is quickly becoming one of the most important skills in advancing your career. A recommendation from a connection you know can be your doorway into the company of your dreams!
Networking consists of first reaching out to people you know (or don’t know) and building a professional community. It’s easier than you may think to get started. Here are a few simple tips:
- Learn about professional affiliations and/or organizations hosting events in your career field. (Here is a hint: Eventbrite is a great networking tool to find professionals in your field, https://www.eventbrite.com )
- Collect business cards at a conference or event and send an email reminder that you met to all your new contacts within 24 hours.
- Once you find a community of your peers, focus on creating and maintaining the connections you gain before you worry about what they can offer you. Take time to get to know people and build real working relationships.
- Connect with people who can offer career advice and guidance to boost your professional development and growth, but also remember to lend any knowledge or connections you have as well. Learn to bring what you offer to the table, and become an asset to someone else.
- Don’t be afraid to initiate going for coffee or grabbing lunch with people in your professional circle. Discuss your career goals, any open opportunities, and make plans to meet again.
Remember: Networking is focusing on your professional and personal connections. Nourish the relationships you have with people and allow them to grow. Your professional circle can be your references and endorsers. They will vouch for your talents and skillsets. When you least expect it, someone in your circle can be the connection between you and your next BIG career opportunity.