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Diverse group of people networking

How to Network Like a Pro

by Lisa Cohn, PHR

Networking is an essential tool for career success in today’s competitive job market. It’s more than just collecting business cards or connecting on social media; it’s about building genuine relationships with professionals in your field. Many job opportunities are filled through word-of-mouth referrals or within existing networks. Having a strong network increases your chances of hearing about opportunities directly, giving you a competitive edge.

Use these networking tips to help advance your career:

Start with your existing network.

Your network may be larger than you think. Begin by reaching out to friends, family members, former colleagues, and classmates. Attend alumni events, reunions, or gatherings to reconnect with people who share a common background. These connections can offer valuable insights, support, and even direct job leads.

Utilize LinkedIn as your networking hub.

LinkedIn is an essential platform for professional networking and job searching. You can connect with professionals in your industry, join relevant groups, and engage in discussions to expand your network further. You can also personalize your job search to see who in your network is connected to the employer or hiring manager of the company, for which you want to work.

Attend networking events and job fairs.

Industry-specific networking events, and job fairs, provide an excellent opportunity to meet potential employers. Prepare your elevator pitch, bring plenty of updated resumes, and engage in meaningful conversations. Be genuinely interested in learning about the companies and the roles they offer.

Seek informational interviews.

Informational interviews are valuable opportunities to learn more about a particular company or job from an insider’s perspective. Reach out to professionals in your field and request a brief informational interview. Approach these meetings with curiosity and respect for the other person’s time, and you may gain valuable advice and insights. Remember that you are the one leading the interview, so make sure to research the company and/or job in advance and come prepared with questions!

Volunteer and join professional organizations.

Volunteering and joining professional organizations are a great way to network while contributing to a cause you care about. Engaging in these activities allows you to meet like-minded individuals and potentially connect with industry influencers and decision-makers.

Attend workshops and webinars.

Stay updated with the latest trends and developments in your field by attending workshops and webinars. These open opportunities for interaction and networking (during and after the events) with presenters, fellow attendees, and sponsors.

Follow up and maintain relationships.

After networking events or informational interviews, always follow up with a thank-you note or email. Express your appreciation for their time and insights. Develop and nurture these connections by staying in touch periodically and offering help when you can.

Networking is a powerful and essential aspect of the job search. By creating and developing these relationships, you open doors to new opportunities and career growth. Keep in mind that networking is a two-way street. The key is to build authentic connections that can lead to new opportunities, while supporting your network as well. Keep networking consistently and remember that each connection you make brings you one step closer to your desired job!

  Lisa Cohn, PHR, is Supervisor of Employer Services at the Ignite Career Center of JCS.

Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, the Ignite Career Center, a program of Jewish Community Services, can help you go further and get there faster. Our highly experienced Career Coaches provide individuals of all backgrounds and abilities with the customized services and tools they need to stand out from the competition. To learn more, visit ignitecareercenter.com or call 410-466-9200.

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