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Asked by David on March 29, 2015

How can I use networking to advance my career, not just get my first job opportunity?

Answered by Ellen, Hiring Expert at Hospira, on March 30, 2015

Network, network, network - even when you are not looking for your next opportunity.  Several years ago Fast Company published an article call "Me".  The concept was organizations no longer guarantee long-term employment so it is important that individuals are ready to move to a new job or at lease desire a new job should  the time arise.  This is where networking becomes so critical.  A well developed network is key and can be a source of friends, colleagues, mentors from church friends to doctors.  Your network can provide insights on a day to day basis.  Cultivating relations with alumni associates, friends of friends and business partners can help advance your career. Those that master the art of networking no matter the circumstances generally will always have the advantage.  Jobs come and go so remember a well developed network is a valuable tool kit!

Good luck! 

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on April 1, 2015

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.

As a recruiter, I can tell you with certainty that we are always looking for awesome, qualified candidates who are ready to advance in their careers with our organizations.  We work with directly with our hiring managers to find the next great talent and often they refer and recommend possible candidates directly from their networks.  These are typically situations where relationships have been built through networking in their field.  Best of luck to you as you seek out your next advancement opportunity!

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Answered by Bryan, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on April 1, 2015

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. 

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Answered by Siobhan, Hiring Expert at Accenture, on April 3, 2015

Networking is a great way to build long term relationships with employers. When connecting with employers, focus on understanding the values of the organization as well as what drives the person you’re speaking to. After a meaningful conversation with someone at a networking event, be sure to ask for their business card or their email address. Send a follow up note that relates to the conversation you had, or share additional information that the person would be interested in (an insightful article related to a topic you discussed for example). If you’ve met someone who works in a field that you are interested in learning more about, ask them if you can set up a 15-20 minute conversation outside of the networking event to learn more about their industry. Even after you’ve decided on your first job opportunity maintain contact with individuals you connected with at networking events. The most appropriate way to do this would be via email or LinkedIn about every 6-9 months or whenever there is a change in your career path.

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