Professional Networking

By Henry Bagdasarian

Although, effective professional networking is very critical for finding a new job, employment is not the only benefit networking provides and must be performed properly in order to be effective. Many people start their networking when they are fired, about to be laid off, thinking about a new job or in need of some important information. For networking to be effective, it has to be continuous, performed in due time, the right way, and with the right people or groups.

Effective professional networking is a continuous process and takes time, considerable effort, and money. To be effective, professional networking cannot be initiated in the last possible minute after our goal has been identified, which might be to find a new job. Networking is meant to build trust and credibility both of which take time and will be ineffective for achieving desired results if not performed properly such as for a very short period of time. Therefore, there is no right time for networking because it’s impossible to predetermine required number of hours of networking per day or week to achieve a desirable goal such as finding a new job. The best strategy is to start networking as soon as possible and keep the networking flame alive for as long as possible. That means having a networking strategy that takes into consideration networking purpose, groups and people, communication channels, and frequency. In addition, proper networking also takes time and money because in some cases, we may have to travel and pay professional dues to network.

The quality of networking is also very important which can reduce the time needed to achieve the desired goals, whether it’s a new job, obtaining information or just human interaction with the right people. To ensure a quality professional networking strategy, the right people and groups must be selected for the desired goals. Depending on our desired results whether it’s to find new clients, exchange information or just keep in touch with various people and companies for the next job, the right people must be selected to help achieve your goals. For example, you cannot interact with and increase your network of dog sitters if you expect to use your network for finding excellent resume writers. Most likely, you will need a network of dog sitters if you own and operate a dog sitting business and can use your network to select and employ dog sitters.

Networking communication must also be performed with the right frequency and appropriate communication channels. You cannot continually call a person at work and expect a pleasant response unless the person is your best friend who will tolerate your every ten minutes disturbances. I do that to my good friends once in a while. There are many communication channels available these days such as phone, email, video conferencing, or social networking sites but the best networking method is still the old face-to-face interaction and although it’s not convenient and suitable for long distance networking, it must be considered whenever possible.

Professional networking can be accomplished within our own companies where we work or outside our companies for achieving various results. There are some common networking benefits that overlap in both areas but there are also some very specific results from networking inside and outside the company.

Professional networking benefits within a company and with key corporate players include learning about the business model, corporate goals, strategy and where you fit in all that, learning about internal customers and their challenges, educating others about what your group does and how it can help them, building trust through knowing each other so they can approach you, selling your credibility and expertise, learning about corporate movements and openings, and along the way achieve personal gains such as promotion or a new position.

External professional networking also provides great benefits such as learning about your industry and changes impacting your company or profession, getting to know key players in your field of business to exchange information and experience about running your business or resolving similar challenges, meeting potential employees to recruit, meeting and learning about potential companies and their values for future employment considerations, learning about other companies and their strategy that can be applied to yours, discovering new openings in other companies, selling trust, credibility and expertise for new proposals such as a new job or service offerings, exploring and discovering new ideas that you never thought of.

Therefore, depending on where you are in your professional life and networking strategy, you may want to join a professional networking group or multiple professional organizations in your filed of business or practice. You can also subscribe to related professional web sites, email groups and forums to exchange information. One of the professional sites where I’m a frequent visitor is www.linkedin.com. I like it because it facilitates the management of my contacts list, my contacts update their own information as their circumstances change, it provides an extended network because it places me in touch with the networks of my network for exchanging information, and it also allows me to keep my public resume up to date just to name a few. So get your profile started on Linkedin and see you there!

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