Tips to Build Your Job Network

Tips to Build Your Job Network

LinkedIn stops publicly displaying your exact number of connections past 500 and instead shows “500+.” For many users of the career-oriented social network, surpassing 500 connections thus delivers a measure of professional validation. However, understanding how to network requires much more than sending connection requests on LinkedIn. It starts with realizing that your network’s quality is far more important than its size to achieving your career goals.

A strong network is full of connections with professional interests relevant to your own and contains plenty of experienced and influential people. Follow these tips to build your network in a way that serves your career objectives.

Attend In-Person Events

In-person networking events are among the most effective ways to build your network with deep and lasting professional connections.

First, the networking atmosphere of these events facilitates relationships. Everyone attends for the same reason: to meet other professionals in their industry. This shared goal encourages attendees to interact with one another. The active and engaging environment of in-person events also stimulates conversation in ways online networking cannot. There’s greater spontaneity, as attendees move from one discussion to the next and groups vary both their topics and composition. Additionally, elements of the event itself, like presentations and the venue, often spark conversation.

Second, in-person events build trust. Attendees get to know each other on a deeper level by socializing outside the conference at coffee breaks, dinners, and other social events organized as part of the event. These events also offer a chance for you to project a professional image, which is an important element of trust. You can establish credibility and authority among your new peers or make a positive impression through your behavior and demeanor.

Lastly, in-person events build your network by delivering real-time feedback on your networking aptitude and making you a better networker. Based on your interactions, you can adjust your approach and message to enhance both the quantity and quality of connections you make.

Request Informational Interviews

Although setting up informational interviews requires legwork—first, you must find suitable subjects, and then formulate engaging questions—this highly targeted method is a great way to build your network with experienced professionals in industries and companies that interest you. One reason they’re effective is that the format is conducive to forming deep connections. The experienced professional learns about you because your interview questions showcase your curiosity and ability to think deeply and open the conversation to areas that reveal your interests, experience, and skills.

Informational interviews also make your network more relevant to your preferred industries, career paths, and companies. A small network filled with connections working in your areas of interest is more likely to help your career than a large network of people whose work does not apply to your own. When you conduct informational interviews, you connect with professionals who can provide meaningful advice and introduce you to other professionals who share your interests.

Lastly, informational interviews help you build your network by enhancing your knowledge about industries and specific roles. As you go from one informational interview to the next—and network through other means—you will ask more insightful questions that make a stronger impression on the people you’re networking with. In turn, these people will be willing to open more doors for you, further strengthening your network.

Utilize Alumni Networks

Connecting with alumni is one of the most efficient ways to build your network. You don’t need professional experience to use this method because alumni are often willing to help recent graduates based on their shared educational background.

Alumni networks also offer diversity. Members work in many different companies and roles, which make them a great resource for exploring different career paths. If you already have a role, company, or industry in mind, an alumni network is a fast way to establish connections in those areas. Furthermore, alumni networks offer mentorship opportunities because alumni established in their careers are usually willing to advise other alumni seeking guidance.

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