While many job seekers acknowledge the importance of professional networking for getting in touch with suitable employers more quickly and obtaining valuable information for optimizing their application strategies and documents, a significant number of them remain uncertain about the right way to do it. Not seldom does that lack of confidence make them refrain from networking at all, thus losing out on all the benefits they could have profited from.
In turn, a wrong approach to networking, usually caused by carelessness rather than wrong conscious decisions, can badly backfire on the job seeker and significantly reduce the chances of getting introduced to the right people and invited for job interviews.
So, there are a lot of good reasons why developing good networking skills is important and well worth the effort.
Tips for making networking fun and effective
> The basics
- Networking should be fun but it’s not a game! Treat this activity with professional respect. LinkedIn & Co. are social networks, yes, but presenting yourself on them like on Facebook, Instagram, etc. will easily give strangers an unfortunate impression of your person. This is not the right context to appear “funny” or “cool” in.
- Keep in mind that people may still want to check out your other social network profiles as well. So, if you cannot refrain from letting yourself go on the internet, make sure that this content is not publicly accessible. Go egosurfing from time to time to check for problems.
- The best approach to professional networking in general is to act as if you were in charge of presenting a renowned global enterprise.
- Start today and make networking a habit! Do not wait until you are in need of a helpful network because you have a problem.
- Regardless of how bad your current personal situation may be, NEVER present yourself as needy! Presenting yourself as someone in trouble immediately lowers your social status and professional attractiveness, decreases the chance of getting help from the right people, and increases the risks of being taken advantage of by the wrong ones.
> Practical tips
- Before you make your first move, set up your own descriptive LinkedIn profile in a professional way that presents meaningful and convincing information about you and shows attention to detail. Don’t forget to update it as needed from time to time.
- Make sure that your email addresses as well as user and profile names feature professional wording.
- While the use of a headshot in a CV / résumé is not equally common in every country, I strongly recommend featuring one on your LinkedIn profile page as most users across the world choose to do so. Only use a photo that depicts you as a true professional. Get more tips on the topic here.
- Be particularly careful when using your smartphone to post content publicly or communicate with new contacts. Typing on the smartphone is prone to selecting wrong words and all kinds of spelling and formatting mistakes.
- While the size of your network does matter, focus your activities on connecting with the right people and building quality relations with them.
- Watch your social status in relation to the other side. The lower it is, the more careful and slower your approach needs to be. However, that should not stop you from reaching out to them altogether.
- When approaching someone who has never heard of you before, see if you can present at least a small convincing reason for it that will help the other side lower their guard and accept your request to connect. Try to come up with something like:»I just discovered that you are the new Head of Marketing of the company I started my career as a copywriter with twenty years ago.«»I just saw that you belong to the alumni of the college I am currently studying at.«»Chris Clark, my previous boss, mentioned your latest article to me yesterday, which is why …«
- Join suitable LinkedIn groups and become active in them.
- Keep your actions small and short in the beginning and let them slowly grow. Start with likes under the right people’s posts, later continue with interesting comments, handle mentions tactfully, increase professional attention with your own posts and articles on relevant topics, and connect with others when the time is right.
- Avoid small talk and commonplaces and keep your posts and communication always relevant and meaningful.
- Respond to the actions and messages from others in a timely fashion.
- Whenever you meet new relevant people in person, don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn & Co. too right away.
If you follow these tips, successful networking shouldn’t look like rocket science to you any longer. And if you want to deepen your networking skills further, here is a must-read for it.