Boost your career prospects with these Networking tips

Networking is absolutely essential in business, especially so if you’re trying to take your first steps up your chosen career ladder. Business is a people-centric operation and the ability to promote yourself as a useful addition to a company is paramount in getting yourself noticed and hired.

Here are our best tips for using networking for career success.

1.      Start local – your college or university’s career fair is a great starting point if you’re seeking a graduate job. The stands will be manned by a variety of people including those from HR, or from a specific department looking for new talent. Exhibitions are an ideal opportunity to ask questions of the right people, and to make your face known to those in a position to hire. Be prepared with some personalised business cards to hand out if you’re asked, or even if you’re not! If you’re not in education, then keep an eye on local newspapers for news of upcoming jobs fairs.
2.      Get virtual – LinkedIn and other social networks are an easy way of networking without leaving your desk – essential if you’ve got a day job to hang on to while you’re looking for your next move. You don’t have to advertise that you’re looking for a new job, but by getting your name out there and your expertise known, you’ll be familiar when vacancies do become available. Get registered with LinkedIn and start building up your profile and connections.
3.      Join a networking club – local networking clubs are springing up all over the place. Networking clubs are full of local business people, including those looking to sell, buy, or find new talent. Even if they’re not looking for more staff, they might know someone who is, or be so bowled over by your skills and sparkling personality that they find an opportunity for you.
4.      Style matters – your personal presentation is very important when you’re networking face to face. Always turn up smarter than usual at careers and jobs fairs. The saying is that you should dress for the job you want, not the one you have. If you’re looking for your first move, then this is especially true. If you’re not sure, take some advice from a stylish friend, or even a professional. Invest in professional photos you can use on your social media profiles and website. Make it look like you’ve made some effort to present yourself in a professional manner. Scruffy appearances and holiday snaps do not give confidence to potential employers.
5.      Practice! Meeting people face to face for the first time and making a sparkling first impression can be nerve-wracking, and lead to a lot of lost opportunities. Practice what you want to say first in private and have an ‘elevator pitch’ ready. Be confident in yourself and it will show when you speak to others. You don’t have to be brash, but being able to put yourself across confidently is an excellent asset. If you can sell yourself well, then employers will be happy that you can do the same for their company.

So, put yourself out there. No-one’s going to hire or work with someone that they’ve never heard of or don’t know what they can do. Knowledge of you and your skills is the first essential step in getting yourself on the path to career success.

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