Try these tips to get your network started
Are you looking for a job? Most career experts say that using your career network is the best way to find a job. What is a career network? A career network is simply the web of people that you know in relation to your career field. People in your network might include co-workers, supervisors, instructors, mentors, clients, vendors, or anyone else you have gotten to know in your career field. Your network can also include friends and family members outside of your career field.
This article gives you a step-by-step approach to developing a career network that may benefit you now and in the years to come. A career network is something that you can grow and develop throughout your entire career. Try these steps to get started:
Step 1: Who do you know?
If you think you don’t have a career network, think again. Many of us have a network without even knowing it. Take a few minutes to start writing down a list of people in your network. Your network can include anyone who may take in interest in your career, from relatives and classmates to co-workers and teachers. All of these people could potentially have some relevance to your career. They might know someone who works at a company where you would like to work. They might be able to suggest other organizations to apply to. They might be able to connect you with someone for an informational interview.
Once you make your list, make it a goal to contact at least two of these people each week. Tell them you are job hunting, and ask them if they have any advice or contacts that could help you. Most people are more than willing to try to help.
Step 2: Use your school’s Career Services department
Are you in a career training program or a college degree program? Most schools have a Career Services department that offers a range of job seeking resources, such as resume assistance, mock interviews, and referrals. The representatives can also talk with you about how to build your career network. They may be able to suggest organizations for you to join or alumni events where you can meet others in your field. They might hold job fairs at the school. And best yet, they might know about current job openings in your area.
Step 3. Talk with people who are successful in your field
Once you are able to get the names of successful practitioners in your career field, it’s time to reach out to them and ask for advice. You may want to ask for an informational interview. Informational interviews are interviews where you ask the practitioner about their job, how they got started in it, and their advice for how you can get started. You can have an informational interview in a formal work setting, or even in a casual setting like a coffee shop. If the person is too busy for a full interview, maybe you can schedule a short phone call or email them a short list of questions. When you do secure an informational interview, try these sample informational interview questions.
Step 4. Get involved in your community
The more you get involved in life outside your home, the more people you will get to know. Try not to be shy. When you attend an event or join an organization, be sure to introduce yourself to others and start conversations. Possibilities for getting involved include:
- Volunteer at an organization related to your career field
- Help out with a community-sponsored event
- Go to networking events
- Attend an alumni event
- Attend community meetings, such as school board or city council meetings
- Join an adult sporting league or a gym
- Attend lectures
- Get involved in events at your local library
Step 5. Use LinkedIn strategically
LinkedIn is a popular career networking site that makes networking much simpler. First off, be sure you create an effective LinkedIn profile that highlights your professional skills. Next, you should explore all that LinkedIn has to offer. You can join groups, participate in discussions, post articles, and connect with other people in your field. When the time seems right, you can reach out to your contacts to tell them you are looking for a job and that you are looking for advice.
Step 6. Find a professional organization in your field
Depending on your career field, there may be a professional organization that helps to promote advancements in your field. If you join an organization, you may have access to news articles, conferences, seminars, webinars, networking opportunities, and job boards.
Step 7. Attend job fairs for your specific field
Job fairs have their pros and cons. Large job fairs tend to be impersonal and crowded, and it can be hard to make contact with anyone. Instead, look for job fairs that are targeted toward your specific career field. Give yourself a goal of talking with at least 5 representatives. Ask them about their companies, what kinds of employees they are looking for, and what kinds of jobs are open. Use this as an opportunity to practice talking with employers and promoting yourself.
Step 8. Be confident
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when you are looking for a job. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you are looking for and to ask for their advice. You might be surprised…If you present yourself in a friendly and confident manner, people will want to help!
Bonus tip: Career networking is a two-way street
Networking is a two-way street. In order for career networks to work, it’s important that everyone is both giving and receiving. As you gain more experience in your career field, be sure to give back to others as they are beginning their careers. The more you put into it, the more rewarding and valuable your career network will be!
This article is provided by the American College for Medical Careers, located in Orlando, Florida. Contact us online to learn about our programs in diagnostic medical sonography, cardiovascular sonography, medical assisting, and more.