As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love it when people ask if they can contribute a guest post to this career advice blog. Last week, I received an offer to do a guest post from Scott Sholtes, a Social Media Specialist for AlumniAgent.com. AlumniAgent.com is a cool site. They are a networking and professional job search community focused on building relationships with your college and alumni communities giving you the tools to outshine your competition in the job search. Here is what Scott has to say about professional networking…
The Value of Professional Networking
Professional networking is a skill that will help you to advance your career by building professional relationships. It is more than just passing out your business cards, it is a carefully formulated series actions that establishes strong professional relationships. When professional networking, it is important to remember that networking is a two-way street and it is not always about what the other person can do for you. Helping your professional contacts now can pay huge dividends down the road. Networking is valuable for exchanging information with other industry professionals and can often help you to advance your career.
Over 80% of open positions in companies are unadvertised, and are filled through employee referrals and recommendations. Without professional networking you will never even hear about these positions. Oftentimes, these are the more desirable positions that jobseekers are searching for. Professional networking helps you to break into this hidden job market and find these unadvertised positions. This hidden job market is particularly hard for recent graduates to break into, and this makes professional networking even more critical for them.
When applying for a job, having a recommendation from a current employee can have a significant positive impact on your chances of being hired. Having a contact within a prospective employers business provides you with a very strong and reliable reference. This reference helps to remove doubt in a hiring managers mind, and can be the difference between being hired and turned down.
Professional networking also helps you to hone your interviewing skills. Every time you meet a new contact it is like a mini interview, and the more of these you do, the more comfortable you will become. You encounter many of the same questions when you are professional networking, as you would during an interview. This repetition will lead to more confidence in an interview and a much smoother delivery.
While some professionals may feel like they do not need networking, they may be underestimating its value. You never know what kind of competitive advantage a contact could give your business, and sometimes these contacts can serve as third-party references when submitting proposals or handling conflicts. Professional networking is also a great platform for beginning a mentoring relationship. There is nothing more valuable than having someone pass down his or her knowledge and expertise into the younger generations. Valuable contacts can also be shared through a mentoring relationship, greatly expanding both parties’ networks.
Professional networking is something you should constantly be looking to do. Always have a few of your business cards on hand, and you should never let a good opportunity pass you by. Once you do make a new contact, be sure to stay in touch with them and try to think of ways you may be able to help them. Remembering that the value of networking goes both ways will help you to have a much more successful networking experience. Building a strong professional network now can help to provide you with a long and successful career.
Scott has provided some great career advice on networking here. He is right on when he says, “it is important to remember that networking is a two-way street and it is not always about what the other person can do for you.”
Tweet 128 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “When meeting someone new ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help this person?’ You’ll build stronger relationships by thinking this way.” The next time you meet someone new ask yourself, “What can I do to help this person?” This is especially true in networking situations. Most people ask the opposite question, “How can this person help me?” By thinking “how can I help” first, you’ll be better able to build strong relationships that will pay off and help you create life and career success. Way back on January 20, 1961, in his inauguration speech as President of the United States, John Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” These words – with a slight twist — are true today and will help you become a life and career success. Ask not what others can do for you. Ask what you can do for others.
The career success coach point in this post is simple common sense. Networking can help you create the life and career success you want and deserve. Your college or university alumni association is a great place to start. Check out AlumniAgent.com to begin making connections with other alums from your college or university. You can network any time and all the time. Always have a few of your business cards on hand. You never want to let a good opportunity pass you by. Once you make a new contact, be sure to stay in touch with them and try to think of ways you may be able to help him or her.
I think Scott Sholte’s guest post has some great career advice on networking. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. Better yet, please share your best networking tip or story. As always, I am very appreciative of you taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success. I value you. Thanks.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.
PPS: I opened a membership site last September. It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations. You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.