You’ve heard it before—networking is crucial for your career. I’m here to tell you that you heard correctly: networking is one of the most important strategies to help get your foot in the door and advance in your professional path.
But why? You may think that hard work and an impressive resume would be enough. But in-person interactions leave the biggest impressions. By networking, you have a chance to give people a better idea of your personality. Your mannerisms, attitude, and conversation will stick in someone’s mind.
Instead of just being words on a page, you’ll be visualized as the real person that you are. Personality is a large factor in the hiring process, although it often isn’t openly acknowledged.
Think of networking like you’re building a web of connections. If your cousin has a friend that owns a marketing agency and you’re interested in the field, you’re presented with the fortunate opportunity to talk to them. You don’t need to ask them for a job, but even just having the chance to talk to them and get their advice is a major advantage. If you leave your best impression with them, chances are they’ll remember you when either a position opens up at their agency, or if they hear of another opening in the field.
The key is to focus on building a relationship, rather than treating networking as a transactional interaction. Show interest in the people you connect with, ask engaging questions, and keep in touch.
Even if an opportunity doesn’t arise right away from a connection you establish, you will still have gained advice, and hopefully friendship! If you keep in touch, that friendship can extend years, and who knows when an opportunity may pop up.
Networking can also provide unexpected opportunities, like business or creative project collaborations, and mutual support like promotions or shout-outs on social media. If you connect with one person, then you’re connected to their network as well.
Networking can be exhausting and intimidating, but if you focus on it as an opportunity to meet new, interesting people, it can be extremely rewarding. Avoid treating it as you would a job interview. Just relax and be yourself while making your career goals known.
Did networking help you get to where you are now? Do you still network at your current job? Do you find networking a challenge? Share your career story on UltiCareer to help students and others seeking a career change get to know what a day in the life of your type of job is really like.
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