There is no doubt about the importance and effectiveness of networking in your career search. Networking, both online and in person, provides you the opportunity to present yourself and your career objective in a much more personal way.
Networking is essentially active personal branding, which can be defined as the process of:
- Identifying the unique and differentiating value that you can bring to an organization, team and/or project.
- Communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.
Many experts have said that when it comes to job search networking, “It’s not what you
know, it’s who you know.” However, I couldn’t disagree more.
First of all, what you know is part of the value that you bring to the table (a.k.a. your personal brand) and therefore, it is of the utmost importance in your networking efforts.
Second and more importantly, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you, or better yet, who knows your personal brand enough to reach out to you with an opportunity where they know you and your brand would contribute the most value.
You may know a lot of influential people, but do they think of you when an opportunity arises? No matter how outstanding a candidate you may be, networking really comes down to getting your personal brand out there in front of your career stakeholders and communicating what you have to offer in a memorable and consistent manner.
So, what are some easy ways to network your personal brand out in front of others?
- Make sure your personal brand aligns with the personal strengths that your family and closest friends associate with you and when appropriate, tell them about your personal brand and your career objectives. They may be your greatest champions, so help them help you.
- Leverage Facebook, LinkedIn and your email rolodex to keep in contact with classmates, colleagues and other contacts from your past. They have obviously seen you “in action” at various points in your life and career and may identify you for opportunities if you stay on their radar.
- Search for professionals in your target companies, industries or functional areas using LinkedIn and other networks and reach out to schedule informational interviews. These are great ways to make more personal connections with potential career stakeholders and provide you relevant contacts with whom to keep in touch.
- Participate in relevant online forums, as well as in LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers. This will not only help you establish your expertise and personal brand in front of other target professionals, but also allows you to network and develop rewarding relationships.
- Attend various events hosted by your professional organizations, your school, your alumni association, your church, etc. in order to physically interact with potential career contacts. Make sure to get your contacts’ business cards or information so you can follow up with them in the future.
There are many more ways you can get your personal brand out there in front of others, from introducing yourself to your neighbors to talking to someone sitting next to you on the subway or on a plane.
In the end, networking really falls on how well you have branded yourself to those whom you have identified as potential stakeholders in your career. Therefore, remember that in your career search efforts, and happy networking!
About Chris Perry:
Chris Perry is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.