Want to know the best way to be proactive in your job search? Check out my latest VentureFizz post here to learn more.
Last year, my fiancé decided to go back to school to pursue his passion and obtain a degree in Software Development Engineering. Although he is learning a great deal from classes and independent learning, unfortunately he doesn’t know many people in this field and sometimes lacks the network he needs to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with. Last month, I discovered that there was a CODEshow occurring in our local area of Charleston, SC. After days of convincing him that it was important for him to attend, he finally agreed that it would be in his best interest to learn from the individuals in this industry. To make the most of this learning and networking event, I utilized my inner HR skills and prepped him the best way I knew how.
The things I taught him this past week can be relevant in almost all networking events. Here were some useful tips I shared with him:
- Make sure your professional social media is up to date: a couple nights before the event, I took the time to update his Linkedin and Twitter profiles. I ensured that: his pictures matched across social media channels; that his pictures were professionalish; his work title/experience was up to date; that his skills were accurate; and that there were links to connect his social media channels together so individuals knew they had the right person.
- Do a little research: The night before, he and I researched things involving the Codeshow. We read articles, researched what people were saying on social media, and so on. He was able to locate a few people who stated they were attending and sent them a quick message about connecting at the show.
- Live-streaming at the event: sometimes it’s a little hard to multi-task. I get it- trust me- but you’d be surprised by how much easier it makes it for you to have warm networking leads. A trend I’ve noticed was live tweeting from events in which participants would quote presenters, take pictures, and provide feedback. This would be a live stream and would include a hashtag specific to the event/conference. Live streaming allows you to see who is at the event and creates an easy opening for virtual conversation that can lead to in-person conversation during breaks.
- Connecting after the event: make sure you get business cards or contact information from the individuals who presented or who you spoke to. Be sure to reach out to them through professional sites like Linkedin and include a personal note in the invite to remind them of how you two know each other. This is a great way to stay connected and build relationships post-event.
My fiancé was beaming when he came home that night, completely buzzing from all the amazing things he learned from the presenters. He had some great conversations with people in the industry that not only sparked his passion more, but confirmed that his decision to change career paths was the right one. He seemed to have a natural talent for understanding the art of software engineering. What’s more, he was able to build relationships with other engineers in the local area so he could totally geek out with people that understand and love the languages. He had great success with the steps that I taught him and appreciated the fact that I helped him make the most out of this situation. And yes, I did gloat about it for a bit.
Make the most of your networking events/conferences and try the steps above. Even introverts can find this to be an easy way to break the ice and build relationships.
During typical Twitter banter this week, a message from Susan Avello really stuck with me: build your network before you need it. It was simple but an effective statement that inspired today’s blog. Whether you are a job seeker, employed, generating leads, or building partnerships- it’s important to proactively build your network. Life and business change fast, you need to always be one step ahead.
Why should you spend time and effort building your network? Simple:
- It puts you on the map: it allows people to get to know you and consider you for job openings or as an option to do business with you. Warm leads made easy.
- It’s a quick resource: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get some insight quickly because of the fact that I networked with people beforehand. And this resource was even more useful than simply researching online, because I was able to get answers to specific questions I had.
- You’ll be prepared for instability in your career: lay-offs, downsizing, termination, or glass ceilings are all situations that we’ll potentially run into in our lives. Networking can help you keep a pulse on what companies are hiring, who to contact about specific jobs, and allow recruiters to locate you for their pipeline.
- Build relationships and credibility: building relationships with people can allow them to see that your experience and skills are credible. Impressing them in this way and staying in the front of their mind can allow them to recommend and refer you with confidence rather than someone else.
There are so many great uses to networking. Yes, it takes time and effort and at times it can be a little overwhelming. But the truth of the matter is, the benefits will help you and help save time in the long run. It’s best to build this up ASAP rather than scrambling later when you need it.
In past blog postings, I have written about topics involving social media communities and talent communities. Of course, I am very passionate about both of these types of communities but the main reason behind my feelings towards it is what these communities offer. If individuals get involved in these types of situations, many will be happy to find that the communities offer some incredible networking opportunities. Not only do they offer networking opportunities but they can also be a great resource for learning, development, and thought leadership. So, what can networking communities do for you?
Here are some potential networking communities you can explore:
- Networking groups: Recently I discovered the website www.meetup.com. It’s a great way for people to discover specific groups who are meeting up in your area. There are plenty of groups meeting up for specific reasons, whether it is for business, certain interests, or generally just to meet people.
- Professional clubs: professional groups that meet regularly are also a good way to network with people in different industries. For example, in Charleston, SC there is a professional club called the Charleston Young Professionals. They typically set up monthly events to allow people to have fun and also mingle for business contacts.
- Social media: websites like Linkedin and Twitter are fantastic ways to connect with individuals. Discussion groups and chats that are based on specific professions, topics, or industries can also make it easy to casually connect with individuals.
- Work events: surprisingly, work events can also be a great place to network. Sometimes in office settings people don’t have the time or ability to talk to people outside of their department or to individuals they don’t directly work with. This can be a great way to get to know about others in your company.
- Conventions: conventions are a way to meet people who are in a specific industry or specific role. This will allow you to connect with people that could potentially be in the same industry/role as you. Therefore, it may be a quick way to form a bond.
Some of the benefits of networking:
- Business connections: networking with individuals can help you find business connections that can assist you with specific business needs or business development.
- Learning and development: networks can help open up opportunities to learn and develop. For example, social communities can present online learning, training, and development opportunities for those who want to extend their learning outside of what their company can offer.
- Resources: networking can help you discover some really interesting resources. For example, when I was starting my blog I came across some useful reference material that helped me add something extra to my posts. It’s also a great way for people to discover job opportunities or companies that they may never have heard of.
- Thought Leadership: networking groups can promote discussion, which can ultimately promote thought leadership. I’ve witnessed occurrences where a simple group discussion resulted in a solution that helped better a business and situation.
Since I’ve been networking in some of the ways mentioned above, I feel like I’ve developed greatly as a person. I could almost kick myself for not partaking in this sooner. The individuals I’ve met have been unbelievably inspiring and have helped pave the way to build my knowledge to grow personally and professionally. Being involved in networking communities has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made. How about you?