by Allison Lewis
If you are anything like me, when you think about networking, you want to possibly run and hide. At first, it sounds like so much work—and what if you say something awkward or someone doesn’t want to talk to you or help you? But I’ve learned that networking is definitely not a dirty word. In fact, it’s an essential part of any job search.
In addition to having the skills that an employer is looking for, most people get their job because they know someone who works at a particular company. Why would an employer want to take a gamble on someone s/he doesn’t know if another candidate is well-known and comes recommended? Whether or not we like it, networking can be critically important to getting the job you want.
Here are my top five tips for effective networking:
- Don’t ask for a job when you network. Instead, ask someone if you can buy them coffee for an informational interview.
- Stay in touch with your contacts on a regular basis so you aren’t just reaching out to them only when you need their help.
- Create a LinkedIn profile and start engaging with your professional contacts.
- Join an industry-specific organization where you can meet people in your desired field.
- Thank people who help you along the way. And pay it forward by helping others.
Allison Lewis is the Outreach Coordinator for Hennepin Technical College.