How good is your network? Do you check in occasionally with your peeps to see what’s happening in your world? Or, do you aggressively pursue every lead, contact or introduction like a road warrior on the hunt? Maybe you are a “hobby networker” someone who likes to check in occasionally because you do not want to intrude on anyone’s time. But if you are someone who lives and breathes every email communication, every suggestion of a meeting or introduction, then my friend, you are someone who networks to work.
Finding out how you rate as a networker means that you not afraid of rejection regardless how minor your efforts to connect to potential job contacts might be. When you network to work you are making it your primary job to stay connected to anyone and everyone who could possibly provide a lead or opportunity whether the job is available now or in the future. Some people come by this skill naturally and others have to work at it “literally.”
You may not give much thought to how your friends and acquaintances can and will assist you in your endeavors but they are out there if you look hard enough and ASK! Knowing how and when to cultivate your connections in a meaningful way is an art form. It’s not enough to have 500 + in your LinkedIn Connections or 3000 + as your “Facebook” friends. You need to know what to do with all of that “network” gold!
How to use your network to your advantage is a full time job. It takes a certain personality and enjoyment in connecting with others to bring about positive results. The numbers of contacts don’t matter as much as what you do with them. How often do you update your online professional profile? How many lunches, informational meetings or drinks do you schedule in one month? Are you a consummate sales person and networking is a thrill or do you have to force yourself to be out there and it’s painful to pass out a business card. What you do in order to gain the advantage of having and maintaining a robust professional network will make or break your chances of success when it comes to looking for and securing a job.
When it comes to networking, you need to be the social butterfly of your professional associations. Joining professional Meet Ups, attending seminars and other social networking groups needs to be a date you set with yourself as much as you schedule your Zumba or Pilate’s class. You’ve got to LOVE the chase! Network to work is a way to keep yourself not only out there but also in the know as to what is happening in and around your industry. Using your network to your professional advantage helps you stay current and sought after as the person to know when someone needs or wants information.
Remember your network is like your extended family, you may not want to have dinner with them every night, but you sure better know when to send a thank you note, birthday gift or special invite BEFORE you actually need them.
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