Everyone knows that the majority of people don’t land jobs by responding to postings and help wanted ads. Instead, successful job seekers get jobs via their contacts and word of mouth; this means jobseekers — often reluctantly — start reaching out to former colleagues, classmates, and others in their quest to find a new gig.
However, most people push networking to the back of their minds once they’ve gotten a job. Sure, they might check in to say hello occasionally, or connect on LinkedIn, but networking as a career advancement tool usually is put on the backburner.
This is a mistake. Even if you have a job that you love and have no plans to leave, networking is still important. Not only can connecting with influential people within your company and your industry help build your reputation, it can also give your paycheck a major boost.
Be Involved With Others
Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” Career experts note that the most successful professionals are those who know and are liked by others.
How does this work when you have a job? Quite simply, it means making yourself known within your company, and being friendly with everyone from the front desk receptionist to the CEO. Learn everyone’s name, and be prepared to start a conversation. You never know when you’ll find yourself in the company of the company president or a board member — if you were to step on the elevator today, would you be prepared with a compliment or question?
Showing that you are in touch with what’s happening in your company and your industry will make you stand out, and when it comes time to make promotion decisions, you’re more likely to make the cut. Even if you just make small talk, it’s better than staying silent and unnoticed.
In contrast, if you keep to yourself and just do your work each day and go home, without reaching out to others or getting involved in company events, it shouldn’t be surprising if you’re overlooked when better paying jobs open up, even if you’re qualified. But don’t worry, even playing on the company softball team counts as networking!
Invest in Yourself
Not only can effective networking help you impress your current employer, but it may help you meet other goals as well — or even find new opportunities that will boost your bottom line. When the focus of your networking is crafting strong, authentic relationships built on a foundation of helping each other succeed, you’ll begin to hear more about opportunities. This could mean the inside track on your dream job, the chance to invest in a business, or even introductions to other influential people who may be able to provide support, encouragement, and advice.
According to Forbes, investing in yourself is one of the best ways to become a millionaire. For some people, this means taking the time to earn an advanced degree and gain more skills. For others, this might mean joining a networking group to gain insights from other professionals and build those all- important relationships. Viewing networking as an investment in yourself and your future, and not just something to check off the to-do list, changes your mindset and allows you to get more out of your interactions.
Learn to Network Correctly
Networking experts note that many people dread networking because they value quantity over quality. Instead of spending time getting to know others and building a good relationship, they think that networking means “working the room” and collecting as many business cards as possible. This mentality prevents many people from realizing the income-building potential of networking. Investing in yourself means going beyond superficial relationships and putting in the time and effort required to get to know someone on a deeper level.
One technique to improve your network and invest in yourself is to identify the people you would like to get to know better — they may be people in your own company, in another industry, or even someone who already has your “dream job” — and reach out to invite them to coffee. Explain that you would like to get to know them and pick their brain a bit. Not everyone will respond, but when you meet in a casual environment, you have a better chance of having the deeper conversations that can lead to better opportunities.
The most important thing about networking for success is to focus on building relationships, and giving as much as you take. When you do, you may find that others are seeking you out, and wanting your guidance, insight, and advice on how to make more money and reach their career goals.