You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your job, so I’d like to share with you today my advice for how to approach networking for your career. It’s really important that you network throughout your career, not just when you need a new job!
This is because the relationships that you build over time will have a great influence on the opportunities made available to you. In an increasingly competitive job market, with constant changes within and across many industries, if people know you, they are more likely to recommend you for job opportunities.
When I say the word ‘networking’ what does this mean to you? If you are a business owner or in a sales or business development role, you may instantly think that networking relates to sales people or business owners exchanging business cards at speed networking events. While this may be the case when your goal for networking is to generate leads for email lists, when it comes to networking for your career, it’s a little different.
In this Business Insider Australia article Chris Pash talks about the 5 Golden Rules of Networking, which I’ve adapted for networking for the purpose of helping your professional development, because there are some subtle differences when networking for your career.
Following my steps will help you network more effectively to research, explore, learn and create opportunities in the industries you wish to pursue. These steps include:
- Be inspired and know what you want
- Be Bold and cultivate relationships
- Be curious and learn.
To help you understand these three steps and how they might apply to you, I’d like to introduce you to John. He is one of my clients and an engineer who wanted to work out the best way to speak to someone about career and job opportunities.
I suggested he join Engineers Australia, an industry organisation committed to advancing engineering and the professional development of their members. Engineers Australia is the largest and most diverse body of engineers in Australia. As Australia’s principal engineering association they serve and represent over 100,000 professionals at every level, across all fields of practice.
As I explain each of these steps I will also share John’s experience.
Be Inspired & Know What you Want
To invest time in networking you need to find the inspiration to do it. It’s so important that you believe in your dream, take action and back yourself.
By knowing what you are trying to achieve you will get value from the time you spend on networking, which could mean attending face to face forums or being part of online forums on LinkedIn or Facebook (or within specific technical or industry forums online).
Where you are in your career will influence what you may want, and examples may be:
- Research employment trends / job opportunities in your industry
- Learn more about new or emerging industries
- Research study requirements for specific role types
- Explore passion projects, hobbies or new business start up ideas.
For John he knew that he wanted to find out more about how to further develop his career in Australia as an engineer.
Be Bold & Cultivate Relationships
This step is about doing your homework about who you want to network with and meeting or reaching out and following up. It is essential that you find the key people within the industry you are researching and learn to ask questions of someone even if you feel intimidated by them.
“Can I please seek your advice?” and ‘What are your recommendations for someone . . . ?” are examples of how you might approach this.
In my experience, senior leaders of most industries enjoy being asked their opinions and making recommendations to those who are brave enough to ask. By being bold and approaching them politely and explaining clearly what it is you want to talk to them about, you will increase your success with cultivating these networks and gaining useful information from their knowledge and experience.
In John’s case, he reached out to a senior leader within the engineering fraternity, who he met at an Engineering Australia networking event. John found that this new contact was very happy to provide him with some invaluable advice.
By being more systematic and making sure you follow up a relevant contact you meet at a networking event or engage with in an online forum, you are beginning to cultivate your relationship with this person.
It may also be as simple as reaching out to industry leaders online and inviting them to connect via LinkedIn. If you attend an event they are speaking at, introduce yourself at the end of the event and thank them for sharing their knowledge. Let them know where you are at and ask them if they have any advice for you. You can then research their organisation, follow their blogs (if relevant) or even subscribe to their newsletter.
Be Curious & Learn
This step is really about adjusting your mindset, which is how I often help my clients.
If you have an open mind and have followed steps one and two, then being curious will ensure you are more open to the potential opportunities that come with reaching out to industry leaders, attending industry events and engaging in online forums.
And this is the fundamental difference between networking for business and networking for career.
If you are curious to learn about new opportunities, actively listening to and learning from the wisdom of others, then you are an open book. Which is why this step is so important. When people you meet at networking events experience your passion and interest, they will be naturally drawn to you and want to know more about your experience and plans for the future.
If you are not curious and open to learning, then you will miss these unique and invaluable opportunities to make connections which you can then cultivate (step 2) as you develop the knowledge you need to develop a plan for your next career move.
How I Help
To encourage you to take the time develop a more effective networking plan, I am available for Career Explore conversations. These are designed to get you ready for the first in these 3 important steps when networking for your career. To encourage you to take the time develop a more effective networking plan, I am available for Career Explore conversations. These are designed to get you ready for your career.
Career Coaching Sessions:
Preparing for your next career move can be daunting, but with our Career Coaching Sessions you will overcome the mindset challenges that are holding you back. I will help you create a CV and cover letter that gets you noticed and we help you identify the right role for you. Invest in your career… for only $249 you will get 3 coaching sessions with me. I have mentored and coached hundreds of job applicants in Melbourne so lets connect for a career conversation. Get in touch with Marina on 0414 443 815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a passionate Career Coach who works with individuals in the explore and search phase of their career journey, helping you realise your strengths through my career coaching and training programs. I enjoy showing people the path to greater career satisfaction and providing insight and tools to help you make your next career move.