Networking is an Ongoing Endeavor

communicationNetworking is an essential part of a job hunt. It gives you exposure to many more potential employers and is a much better targeted approach than just sending resumes in bulk to every company in your field of expertise. But networking is not just a job-hunting tactic, it’s also part of successful career development.

Networking, whether through social gatherings organized specifically for that purpose or through online social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, can help you advance your career, get you within reach of new business opportunities or, why not, lead to a desired career change. It’s not always about direct business opportunities, either, and it doesn’t need to be. Networking can bring professional insight; it can help you find a mentor to advise you in your professional development or, at the least; it will help you stay in touch with the latest developments in your area of work while also expanding your network of personal contacts, something that could come in handy when you decide on a radical career move such as, for instance, starting your own business.

One thing to bear in mind is that networking is not a single isolated event. You need to maintain the new contacts you make, develop the new relationships that could prove to be mutually beneficial over time. This is true for both face-to-face events and social networking. In both cases, you need to bear in mind that though everyone participating is marketing something, a business or themselves, this should not be done in a direct, pushy way. Be patient, no matter how eager you are to tell everyone what a great company you’re working for or what a great professional you are. Networking is about socializing, after all, it can provide a nice break from your usual work, an interesting conversation with like-minded people, even if there are no direct material benefits evident straight away.

When it comes to networking on a digital channel, make sure your profile creates a consistent, favorable impression. What this means is, avoid posting improper statuses or links or, there are now privacy options that allow this; filter them and take good care of your public profile. If you’re in marketing, for example, posting a status which says that marketing is the worst business there is would be unwise, even if you’ve meant it as a joke. Share it with your personal friends, not professional acquaintances. It’s common sense, really, but it bears reminding in a digital world where everyone is connected.

Just like politicians are always preparing for elections, regardless of whether they’ve just won or lost them, a successful professional should always be ready for a change that would take them further along the path they have planned for themselves. In this, networking is an invaluable tool — you never know when you’ll need a contact that you made at a social event or on Facebook. You also never know when someone who’s needed your help will be able to help you, so be ready to offer help and assistance. After all, all relationships are about giving as well as taking.