Networking: Building Professional Relationships
They say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” With at least 70% of available jobs never listed, using your network is more important than ever. Your professional network can be anyone from your cousin to your former employer, to an acquaintance on Facebook. Nurturing professional relationships is just as important as personal ones; it’s easy to drop off someone’s radar when you’re not in regular contact with them. Make great connections now to help benefit your career in the future.
6 Degrees of Separation
If you have a specific goal in mind, determine which people are in a position to help you reach that goal. Even if none of your immediate friends or coworkers has that awesome contact, try social media site LinkedIn. Often you can find hiring managers and other people who can help you through your connections on websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Ask your contact to do a brief introduction, or make the connection yourself. Dropping an email saying you went to college with so-and-so is sometimes enough to warrant a response.
Maintain the Relationship
Once you’ve established a professional relationship with someone, foster it with attention and care. Don’t overwhelm their inbox, but reach out occasionally after reaching personal milestones (just scored a great new gig)! Often times in business relationships we think to take, take, take. Try giving; offer to help them in a way that’s unique and mutually beneficial. Favors are much easier to come by when you’ve given out some yourself. Be sure to complement and explain to them why you think they’re such a fabulous connection.
Remember: its quality over quantity when it comes to professional relationships, and once you’ve developed one you need to tell them what you want. Be specific; successful individuals are busy and don’t have time for guesswork. Whatever you can do to make the request easier for them to fulfill, do it. Want them to forward your Resume to a hot-shot exec? Include it in the email so they don’t have to ask. Trying to get some top-notch work advice over coffee? Give them a few dates and times and let them pick.
A good professional relationship is like a personal relationship, they both involve give and take. Sometimes, professional relationships can develop into a mentor-peer relationship, and that’s great too. Don’t be afraid to be assertive, but always maintain a professional attitude.
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