Posted by Robert Half on Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
Many people cringe at the idea of networking, yet it’s a must-have skill for anybody who’s serious about advancement. While the notion of talking shop may seem awkward, your contacts might hold the key to your next great job opportunity. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Whether embarking on your career, building on it once you’ve gained some experience, or even setting off in an entirely new direction, don’t be shy. Some tips are no-brainers, such as establishing an online networking presence on sites like LinkedIn. Here are some less-obvious but equally useful professional networking tips:
1. Don’t be a stranger. Any list of professional networking tips should start with friends, family members, neighbors and former classmates or colleagues. Be sure to tell them what you do and what your professional goals are. They (or someone they know) may be in a position to help advance your career.
2. Remember that it’s not all about you. Make it a point to get to know others in your profession, and listen to what they have to say. Focus on building a relationship, not “networking” solely for the purpose of getting a job. The relationships you build could help you later when you’re job hunting.
3. Make it fun. Professional meetings aren’t always gatherings for proverbial stiffs, and people who are serious about careers aren’t one-dimensional, either. This deviates a bit from the usual professional networking tips, but, quite often, the best type of networking can be done in a setting that doesn’t revolve around work. Instead, look for opportunities to connect with others with shared interests. For instance, local Meetup groups exist for nearly every interest around which two or more people might gather.
4. Network at work. Large companies often have employee networking groups and clubs. These may involve a particular discipline or demographic. Participating in activities organized by these groups can help you build your network. They can also be professionally rewarding.
5. Gain a professional edge. Join an organization that exists to advance your profession. If your manager and company are supportive, they might even foot the bill for your membership. You’ll have a lot to gain from attending workshops, seminars and conferences, and you’ll meet other professionals in your field.
6. Give back. Many large and small companies encourage their employees to volunteer in their communities. From cleaning up beaches to rehabilitating houses, there’s something for everyone — and this is a great way to get to know other people at your workplace.
7. Be gracious. No list of professional networking tips would be complete without noting the importance of proper etiquette. From sending an email thank-you note to treating a friend or colleague to lunch, displaying genuine appreciation and good manners is essential to networking success.