How To Network for a Job (Why It's Important and 7 Tips)

Updated February 16, 2023

Building relationships is crucial to succeeding in the workplace and searching for your next job. Effective networking can help cultivate quality relationships, which may lead to promotions and interview opportunities. Learning about networking strategies and techniques can help you make professional contacts that allow you to advance your career.

In this article, we discuss why networking is worth your time and effort investment and explore how you can network for your next job.

Why is networking important?

Networking enables you to take advantage of personal and business connections rather than relying solely on your resume. These connections aren't only beneficial for you but also for employers who hire many new employees through networking. Hiring managers may prefer to hire candidates with contacts within their shared network because they can gain insight into their qualities through their connections. Developing your professional network may improve your chances of landing a job.

Networking to find a new job can also give you access to opportunities that you may not find in an online job search. Many businesses don't list openings on company websites. Instead, they may rely on internal networking to inform candidates of open positions. This means that having a solid professional network may help you access jobs that aren't available to the general public.

Related: The Benefits of Networking: 14 Reasons To Start Your Network

Methods for how to network for a job

Networking for a job requires strategic thinking and developing skills that help you connect with others. By networking efficiently, you may develop stronger professional contacts that will help you advance your career. Here are seven methods to consider when networking for your next job:

1. Get face-to-face

While it can be tempting to network only from behind the safety of a computer screen, networking in person can provide more personal interaction. Rather than only emailing the friend who works at the company you want to work for, schedule a time to have lunch with them. During that face-to-face time, discuss the position you're hoping for and your relationship. In addition to meeting in person, consider attending events where you can make new connections, such as at industry-specific conventions, job fairs and business-hosted social events.

If you want to move beyond your current field, consider asking to attend an event with someone in that field. Once at the event, meet as many new people as possible and exchange business cards. You can also personally network with friends and family in much more informal settings. Accept invitations to family gatherings and friendly parties, and mention that you're searching for a new job to those you speak with. You never know when you may find the right person with the right connections.

Related: How To Get the Most Out of Jobs Fairs

2. Offer help

You can improve your relationships with your contacts and chances of finding work by offering to help your contacts. Volunteering to assist them with projects or performing minor tasks can show your initiative and genuine interest in their company. Additionally, offering help lets your contacts see how you apply your skills. This can help them gain insight into your work habits and abilities, which allows them to vouch for your skills to others.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

3. Fight your fear

If you're an introvert, you may need to challenge yourself to be more outgoing to network effectively. Encourage yourself to do a little more than you usually would by speaking to someone a little longer or setting a goal to interact with a specific number of people at your next work event. If you feel anxiety about interacting with others, try preparing questions and discussion topics before talking with them.

You may also be hesitant to network for fear of rejection. Try to be proud of your efforts regardless of the outcome, and remember that you're likely to have more opportunities to create connections that may lead to the job you want at another time. Remind yourself that rejection may be part of the process of expanding your network, and remember your motivations for why you're pursuing networking.

Related: 18 Powerful Networking Strategies for Shy Professionals

4. Be patient and make time

Cultivating strong relationships can take time, as can networking to find the right position. Be patient as you meet with connections and make new ones. It can also be helpful to call a company you're interested in working for and ask for an informational interview. Go with the intent of getting to know the company and potential hiring managers instead of planning to ask for a job. Taking that time can help build new relationships and familiarize yourself with your potential employers.

Related: 10 Tips To Help You Network Like a Pro

5. Emphasize relationship-building

Even though it is tempting to focus on selling yourself and sharing your resume with everyone in your industry, focusing on relationships may make a more powerful impression than your previous work experience. Present yourself as a likable person before showing your professional worth. Show a genuine interest in forming meaningful connections with others. You can develop lasting relationships by taking an interest in others beyond the scope of their connections. For example, practice active listening when meeting someone new. Limit distractions and show your interest and engagement when they speak.

Related: 11 Active Listening Skills To Practice (With Examples)

6. Use social networks and online resources

Networking through face-to-face interaction is invaluable, but if you want to maximize your reach, use social networks and other online resources to reinforce relationships and search for new connections. Making online contacts is a great way to meet others in your industry, regardless of where they live and work. Online connections allow you to network with others in the same field living in different regions you may never meet in person. Additionally, having an online professional profile can help others find and learn about you.

Related: 12 Ways To Identify Compelling Networking Opportunities

7. Follow up

Follow up with new connections after making initial contact. This follow-up can involve thanking them for meeting with you, asking further questions or sending along an article relevant to your conversation. These continued interactions strengthen the relationship, remind the contact of your meeting and can even cause them to think of you for an open position.

A friend may also recommend contacting one of their connections. After reaching out to that contact, email your friend and do so again after you've received a response. This shows gratitude and strengthens your relationship by continuing to involve them in your journey.

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