Q: I keep reading that most jobs are found through networking, but I’m currently working full time while looking for a new opportunity, so I don’t have time to attend events. What other options are available for me?
A: It’s true that networking events can be great places to meet new people, but there are other worthwhile opportunities out there if you broaden your definition of networking.
If you aren’t already using LinkedIn, get started now. Your profile is your professional introduction to the world, so be sure it is as complete as possible and includes a business-like photo. Get as many professional recommendations as you can, and link up with as many people as possible.
You should be able to build your network quickly by spending just a few minutes each day sending invitations to connect with people you know, have worked with, or attended college or graduate school with. These connections will become part of your network too.
Next, join LinkedIn groups that fit your interests and background, and actively participate in them. Most colleges have LinkedIn groups, so joining your alma mater’s group might help you reconnect with people you went to school with. Another great way to grow your network with LinkedIn is to post articles—you may be surprised at how many people read your post, which will expand your network further.
If you aren’t already using LinkedIn, get started now. Your profile is your professional introduction to the world, so be sure it is as complete as possible and includes a business-like photo.
When building your network, don’t overlook family and friends whom you see regularly. Each of them knows people you don’t know. Next time you’re at a gathering of family or friends, remind them of what you do and explain that you’re looking for a new opportunity. You may get some promising ideas and help from people who know you well.
Another easy way to network from the comfort of your own home or office is to share useful information with your professional contacts. For example, periodically go through your email contacts, look for people you have lost touch with, and send them an article you’ve come across that’s relevant to their field with a note saying you’d like to reconnect. People often respond well to these kinds of personalized messages.
So expand your definition of networking! All of these forms of outreach can produce good leads without requiring you to spend an evening at a networking event.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR,The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].