Your Career: Networking

As with so many things, when it comes to your job, it can often be who you know, not only what you know. And that means if you want to get ahead, it’s time to start networking.

To start, tell everyone you know about your intentions. You never know who can help you in your search, or who knows someone who can help you. While discussing my publishing aspirations with a coworker, for example, I found out he knew someone in publishing. It didn’t end up getting me anywhere, but I never would have known about that connection if we hadn’t talked about what I was hoping to accomplish.

Once that’s done, get out there and meet new people. Your local chamber of commerce can be a great resource to meet others in your area and connect with people in your chosen field. Even if the people you meet can’t get you a job, they can be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to getting experience, learning what to do next, and meeting even more people who can help you. While you’re at it, look for professional organizations in your area or online that relate to your area of interest. Affiliating with them shows you’re serious and can introduce you to plenty of potential resources.

You can also tap into online forums and communities: in your chosen field, on job sites, in your local area. The more people you connect with, the greater the possibility of a job lead, educational resource, or just support and feedback along the way.

When you meet new people, don’t be afraid to express your interest in a particular area. I wouldn’t recommend introducing yourself as “Hi, I’m Joe. I’m looking for a job in marketing” unless you’re at a career expo, but bringing up the industry or topic in conversation can lead to some interesting responses. You never know who you might meet or what that person might be able to do for you!

While you’re at it, keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities that may help others. Networking is a two-way street, and just as someone you meet may be able to give your career a boost, you or someone you know can offer the same benefits to someone else.

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