One of the best tools you have for successfully finding a new job or changing careers is networking. I know, chances are just the word networking brings up feelings and thoughts that range from confusion about what it is, to aversion and dread at the thought of what you imagine—or have been told—networking involves. Proper networking is really just about building and nurturing ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships. It is not about using each other, but helping each other. Those in your network, the people you can reach out to (and be a resource for as well), are friends, colleagues, neighbors, people you know from community or volunteer activities, or the gym, fellow alumni of your school…you get the idea. Think about how much and how quickly your potential opportunities can increase by seeking suggestions from all these people!
When you are looking for a new job or considering a new career field, let your network know about your goal, some of the steps you are taking to reach it, and a brief summary of how your background, skills, interests and experiences support that goal (especially any relevant pieces they would not be aware of). Invite them to share any information, feedback, and specific suggestions they may have to help you refine or expand your search, including organizations and people they might suggest you contact for additional information or possible opportunities. Be sure to follow up on suggestions that match your goal and thank your network for all ideas offered. It is especially important to follow-up on a referral to a contact and to keep the person who referred you updated on the status of your follow-up. Keep in touch with members of your network, providing them with periodic updates on your progress. Remember to let them know when you have reached the goal so they can join you in celebrating your success! Most people are happy to help someone else, and they appreciate learning how their help has made a difference. Finally, don’t forget to give back! Be a resource to others, and actively look for opportunities to stay connected, help, and share periodic tips, ideas or interesting/useful bits of information with those in your network.
Shahrzad Arasteh, M.A., helps people create and pursue their career search plan using 10+ years of experience and a holistic approach to career counseling. She is a Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner, a Master Career Development Professional, a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, and a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator. If you are ready to create your career search plan and find your meaningful work, visit http://www.careerconsultmd.com or contact her shahrzad[at]careerconsultmd.com
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