During these tough economic times, networking has become even more important. With the limited amount of jobs available and an over abundance of job seekers, you must do all you can to make sure you find opportunities that meet your education and skills.
Traditionally, the networking process has involved putting on a suit, going to a meeting and handing out business cards. These offline techniques are still vital to help you network for a job. However, these days more and more people are also making connections online, by joining social or professional networks, by keeping in touch with contacts by email, and by taking part in conversations on blogs or discussion forms. During these tough times, it's important to use both online and offline methods. Let's take a look at each.
Online Networking Benefits:
- You can connect with many more people than you would otherwise meet in everyday life.
- You can network from home when it's convenient for you.
- You can demonstrate some strengths (writing or graphic-design) that you might not be able to display at a business meeting.
- Just by using online methods, you are showing you are adapting to new ways of connecting and staying up to date with technology.
- If you are shy, you may have more confidence when you don't have to actually speak to people face-to-face.
Ideas to make the most of online networking:
- Look into a variety of online networks. Don't limit yourself to the big, LinkedIn or Plaxo sites. Many good smaller or narrowly focused communities are available for people in a specific industry, geographical or for minorities.
- Post a neat, clear and accurate profile if it is allowed. Have someone proofread your writing. Be brief, clear and concise. Do not boast and never, ever lie. Please choose the appropriate picture that shows you neat and well-groomed.
- Participate in online discussions minimally at least once per week so you get to know other members.
- Remember your "netiquette" Good online manners can help you stand out on the Internet. Don't be rude- always be polite. Follow the rules and make relevant comments. Learn some email writing pointers so your email can be viewed in a positive light.
- You don't have to worry about online privacy or safety of your personal information. You will feel more comfortable revealing some personal information.
- There's a good possibility that you will build a stronger connection with eye contact and body language in view.
- You can show your people skills in person.
- Get more involved with organizations in which you already belong. Attend their meetings and become more active.
- Join new relevant groups that will expand your range of contacts.
- Look beyond the people you already know. Find out who they know, especially if they are successful. A former classmate may be in different field but have contacts that can hep you.