In-person networking might be more effective than applying for a job through an online job board, especially in a highly competitive job market, since most people find out about new job opportunities through word-of-mouth. Consider these five tips for effective networking when looking for your next opportunity.
1. Join a Networking Group
Your local chamber of commerce probably has monthly events where business people from many local organizations get together. These types of events are perfect for sharpening your in-person networking skills and meeting people who can put you in touch with hiring managers. Even if the people you meet are not in your industry, they might have connections throughout the community. Some attendees might also know of job opportunities before they are posted, and that gives you an advantage over other potential candidates.
2. Become a Part of a Professional Organization
Most industries have professional organizations that give like-minded people opportunities to meet, mingle and share ideas. A professional organization is a ready-made in-person networking group, because you already have something in common with everyone at the association. A common industry makes it easier to strike up conversations with complete strangers.
3. Build Your Network Sooner Rather Than Later
Recognize that you will always need your network. Don't wait until you are looking for a job to start networking. Creating lasting relationships through in-person networking takes time and effort. Continuously grow your network by finding people who can help you meet your professional goals. Keep in touch with members of your network so they don't forget you. Attend industry events and reach out through social media. Your stable connections can be ready at a moment's notice when you need a job or decide to look for a new opportunity.
4. Schedule Regular Meetings
Consider having a weekly lunch meeting or coffee date with at least one member of your network. This is a great way to build genuine, lasting connections with people. During these meetings, the individual might share valuable information about open positions without you having to ask directly. Make sure the meeting isn't just about you and your career. Always have valuable information and ideas to share as well.
5. Keep Things Professional
First impressions are vital to a job search, and the same is true with in-person networking. Act professionally when first meeting members of your network by dressing appropriately for meetings, keeping the conversation on work-related or industry-related topics and offering valuable input. Eventually, you might become friends with individuals in your network, but this can take some time.
Try these five tips for in-person networking to improve your professional life. With proper networking, you can develop viable relationships that have the potential to last for decades.
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