Incorporate networking into your regular routine to boost your career.
Experts agree that networking is an important aspect of every professional’s career advancement, whether they’re looking for that next promotion or wanting to make a transition. In fact, studies show that you are 10 times more likely to land a role when your application is accompanied by an employee referral. But referrals don’t just fall in your lap; you have to get out there and build your network.
Between juggling your responsibilities in the office and at home, and trying to fit in a little “me” time, you may feel like there isn’t any room left to focus on networking. Nothing could be farther from the truth! From your next kickboxing class to your child’s soccer game, there are a number of networking opportunities already penciled into your calendar. Here are four ways to incorporate networking into your already-busy life.
Pitch Your Brand While You Play There’s no better way to form a real connection with someone than over a shared interest. When you’re not working, what do you like to do? Do you volunteer at a local animal shelter on the weekends or are you a regular at fitness boot camp? Use your hobbies as a way to casually approach networking and meet new people. This is a great alternative to a more structured networking event.
Make it a Family Affair
Whether you’re coaching your daughter’s softball team or organizing a bake sale for your church, family activities are networking goldmines. Use these opportunities to get to get to know your family’s friends and colleagues. You’d be amazed at who you could meet at your nephew’s tennis match or your spouse’s work reception.
Network at Work
Who says you can’t grow your network while on the job? Unless you work for a small organization, chances are you aren’t buddies with all of your colleagues. Grab a cup of coffee with a coworker from a different department to learn more about their side of the business. Approach a more senior colleague to be your mentor and schedule a monthly lunch. If you’re sent to a conference for work, make it your goal to meet at least five new people.
Socialize with Your Smartphone
Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have the ability to network on the go. Whether you’re standing in line at the grocery store, taking a quick lunch break, or commuting to the office, you can easily whip out your smartphone or tablet and start making connections. Join relevant professional groups on LinkedIn and connect with fellow members. Shoot off a quick email to the woman you met at your photography class last night and schedule a lunch meeting. This will keep your networking efforts going, no matter where you find yourself.
Whether you love it or loathe it, approach networking with an open mind. There’s no one right way to network, so find the method that works best for your schedule. Don’t discount those you meet through your social activities. While your new connections may not be appropriate for your targeted line of work, who's to say they don't have friends or family members who are? Give these options a try and you’ll be sure to steer your network in the right direction.
Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.