There’s no doubt about it – today’s job marketplace is more competitive than ever before. To stand out from the pack, you’ll need experience and qualifications, but there is an often under-utilized, cost-efficient tool to help you find your next career opportunity.
Cultivate and use your professional network.
Did you go to school? Ever have a job before? Do you have family and friends? Then you have a burgeoning network out there, just waiting for you to take advantage. Unsure on the specifics of building and using a professional network? Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Make the most out of your social media profiles. Ever set up a Twitter profile? If you have, start following people in your industry, or people you knew from schools or prior employers. Then, post links and insights relative to your business. When you follow someone on Twitter, the standard practice is for that person to follow you in return. Start following relevant people, and you’ll soon find yourself with a range of professional contacts. And if you’re not on LinkedIn, you had better be soon! WIth more than 100 million users, LinkedIn is the #1 online networking tool for professionals. Standard accounts are free, and you can use LinkedIn as another way to connect with previous co-workers or fellow students. But you can also show off your experience and background through your profile. LinkedIn is a must-do for any professional.
2. Join professional organizations. Check with your local chamber of commerce or alumni office for local professional networks in your area. Whether specific to your industry, or general business organizations, you can meet a range of interesting professionals, any of whom could provide you with your next career lead or opportunity. Many larger cities have young professional networks, networks for a variety of industries, or other networks like Toastmasters, a national organization with local chapters in just about every town or city, which gives you an opportunity to meet professionals while honing your presentation skills.
3. Don’t forget alumni organizations. Did you go to high school or college? Your schools’ alumni offices can provide a great start for building your professional network. Many schools have mixers or networking events for alumni, alumni newsletters that offer an opportunity to share an update on your personal and professional lives, and online communities for you to connect with other alumni. Many alumni offices will also provide you with the names and contact information for professionals who are open to mentorships or other professional consulting opportunities.
4. Make a consistent effort. Once you’ve established a strong professional network, don’t just let it sit there! Get out and attend events in your area (or even outside your area), post on social media profiles, engage others in discussion, send a quick email with an update on your situation, ask a former coworker out to lunch…you see where this is going! You’ve put a lot of effort into your professional network, so be sure to keep it active and engaged, so that you can get the most career and personal benefit from it.
Follow these steps and you’re well on your way to gaining traction in your career through your professional network. And if you’re looking for new career opportunities, contact your closest Peoplelink Staffing office. We work with top employers across the country, and we’ll help you find a job opportunity to reach your career goals.
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