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How To Use Networking To Further Your Career

April 27, 2015

It's normal, expected even, to have a desire to advance in your career. Earn more responsibility and earn more money. The job you have may be great, but you always want something better. A higher pay, bigger office, more flex time, or just a better job description. Networking to get a job is a fairly common part of any job search, but it’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to further your career too.

Stephanie, an expert from AT&T, offered her thoughts, “Being an active member of a networking community can make a huge difference in your career, not just in advancing, but also in keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest happenings in your field, meeting people who have similar interests and sharing your own expertise with people equally interested in your pursuits. 

If you are already established in your career, you may have a clearer idea of areas you want to get involved to share, collaborate and learn.  Consider networking within your career circle through specialty organizations that are aligned with your occupation or objectives.  There are typically organizations and associations that encourage and facilitate this type of networking.  In addition, social media has made 24/7 access to networking opportunities a reality.  Get out there and check out LinkedIn Groups, Facebook pages and the social media content of companies you are interested in, and you are likely to find some great people to discuss your advancement goals and the work you're doing.”

In order to utilize networking to the fullest extent, it’s vital to maintain your contacts. You can do this a variety of ways and the easiest is probably through social media. And the most important aspect of maintaining your network is simply staying in touch your contacts.

Bryan at IBM said, “Networking is like eating your vegetables - it's essential to a healthy career.
I once received the sage advice, ‘talk to successful people.’ We all know of people whose jobs or work we admire. Never be afraid to reach out to those people - through social media or otherwise. Ask if you can buy them a cup of coffee or have a quick phone call at their convenience (be prepared for early morning or on a weekend).

Be honest about who you are and why you want to talk as most people will be flattered. Usually, people enjoy talking about themselves and helping someone else out. Set aside time on your calendar each month to keep up with contacts you've made and meet new ones.

Before long you will have achieved your own first success in your career. But don't stop networking there. There are always more people to learn from, no matter where you are in your career. Instead of targeting folks whose jobs you covet, start learning about other parts of the business you work for. If you work in sales, meet people who work in human resources, or research. The more well-rounded your understanding of the business, the more versatile and agile you will be as you advance your career.  Also, don't forget to pay it forward in the future.”

Bryan is right networking is most certainly like eating your vegetables. It doesn’t always seem attractive, but it is a key ingredient to a growing career. As you network, you must be strategic about the individuals you decide to pursue. Growing a big network with a large number of contacts whom aren’t necessarily beneficial to your career may look impressive, but in reality doesn’t serve the purpose you’d want.

If you’re looking to quickly advance your career, networking will open doors that hard work and intelligence simply can’t unlock. Of course you should combine great networking skills with a stout work ethic and a keen understanding of your field. Then, the sky is the limit on how fast you will advance. Sometimes a promotion is about knowing the right person or being in the right place at the right time. So make the effort to know those right people and position yourself to be in that perfect place. You never know where some paths, or conversations, will take you.

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