The value of networking to give your career a kick-start

Never underestimate the power of networking, particularly when it comes to securing that dream job, or getting your foot in your preferred industry’s door. Connecting with just one person within your chosen line of work has the potential to open a number of industry doors that would otherwise have remained closed. You see, taking the time to familiarise yourself with the workplace, and having the foresight to connect with those already in the industry, can vastly increase your chances of scoring an interview. Building trust with potential employers is a vital aspect of the hiring process; can you afford to ignore such simple advice? These days academic prowess is no longer enough, as more and more young people are graduating university with impressive degrees and commendable CVs. How can employers be expected to differentiate between candidates by glancing at a piece of paper that lists grades and work experience? In short, they can’t, so it is absolutely essential to get your name, and face, out there – even if that means stepping outside of your comfort zone. This means deciding just how much you want that job!

The How-To of networking

There are numerous ways to create networking opportunities, and, as you may have guessed, many of them exist online. LinkedIn, for example, is a fantastic resource that allows students and professionals to list their credentials, work experience, skills, and that all-important headshot. In fact, many employers will now scope out your LinkedIn profile before deciding how far to take your application, so it is important to keep your details up to date, take the time to create links with those who could recommend you, and publish vital information that could secure you that job. Outside of LinkedIn, networking relies upon a little research; who should you be in contact with, what impression should you be making, and what is the competition like? Potential employers regularly vet Facebook too, so be careful what information you put out there, as well as who you choose to accept as a friend; some friends should remain in the workplace for a reason.

Of course, there is a world of opportunity in the offline realm too, and this should never be ignored if you’re hoping to secure that dream position. Networking at trade shows, conventions, and conferences can be hugely beneficial for anybody who’s looking for a new job, and all are fantastic opportunities for you to meet the right people and demonstrate what you know. Lord Laidlaw, a Scottish baron and entrepreneur, realised just how important such occasions are and founded the Institute for International Research in 1973, enabling businesses to present seminars, attract clients and employees, and conduct workshops. While Lord Laidlaw’s yacht, the Lady Christine, is now more used for traversing international waters in search of the sun than being used to attend conferences, his business legacy lives on. We are blessed with numerous expos in South Africa, each highlighting different industries, and offering chances to mingle. Never before has networking been so heavily encouraged or available. So, what is so special about trade shows and conferences? Well, for starters, you’re always in good company. Nowhere else will you meet so many professionals from your chosen line of work, or witness quite so many talks or demonstrations. These types of events are also a great way for you to get yourself out there. Take business cards and CVs, and be prepared to start a few conversations.

 

Networking is today’s buzzword, and is absolutely unavoidable if you’re hoping to make your mark in business. While approaching companies and individuals can be daunting, cementing relationships early on in your career is absolutely vital, and we assure you that you’ll be all the more respected for making that first move. Conduct careful research into your chosen field, be prepared to make new friends, and listen out for business updates. Only then can you appreciate the value of networking.

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