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The Importance of Networking and How to Build Professional Connections

As a job seeker, you may think that submitting a great resume and cover letter is the key to landing your dream job. But that's now the case to win anymore. As a Career Hacker, you know the best way to build a great career isn't through resume(s), but through a unified path of job seeking.

And it doesn't start with hitting the apply button, it starts way before that. Especially when it comes to building a great network. Networking is just as important, if not more so, in securing employment. Not only do you make friends and connections, but also get many opportunities coming along your way, only because you were active on your network.

So, let's discuss the importance of networking and strategies for building professional connections.

Why is Networking Important?

For job seekers, networking can lead to job leads, referrals, and insider information on job openings that may not be publicly advertised. And that's a huge deal-breaker on the job hunt.

According to a study by LinkedIn, 70% of people were hired at a company where they had a connection. In addition, networking helps job seekers gain access to decision-makers in their industry, which increases their chances of being hired.

So, how does one network effectively?

While networking isn't limited to events, but events are a great place to start. This can involve researching the attendees, practicing your elevator pitch, and preparing your CTA for them to remember you.

During the event, make a positive impression by being friendly, engaging, and interested in the other person. Remember to listen carefully and ask questions to show your interest.

After the event, follow up with your contacts by sending an email or connecting on LinkedIn. This can help maintain the relationship and keep you top of mind. To build a lasting relationship, offer to help your contact in any way you can, such as making introductions or sharing useful resources.

Be genuinely curious

Networking events are easy places to build a network. But they aren't the best. And this is the single biggest reason for it: People are way too focused on talking about them. They don't stop and listen to the other person, they just wait for their opportunity to speak.

That's where you come in, being genuinely curious about the person you're talking to. Hear their story, and learn about them. Listen carefully with curiosity.

Networking Strategies for Introverts

Networking can be challenging for introverts, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to build professional connections.

To start, practice having conversations with friends or family members to build your confidence. You can also use social media to connect with professionals in your industry. For example, LinkedIn is a great platform for building your professional network.

When attending networking events, arrive early to avoid large crowds, and seek out quieter areas to have conversations. It's also okay to take breaks if you need to recharge your energy. Remember, networking is about building quality relationships, not quantity.

Networking Mistakes to Avoid

There are several common networking mistakes that job seekers should avoid. For example, being too pushy or aggressive can turn off potential contacts. It's also important to follow up promptly after an event and avoid being too spammy or aggressive in your follow-up messages.

If you make a networking mistake, don't panic. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's important to learn from them. Apologize if necessary, and make an effort to do better next time. Remember, building professional relationships takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent.

Create value

While it's easy to get caught up in all the points I mentioned above, remember, the most important thing is to create value. Have that at your core when approaching someone, talking to them, learning about them, telling about yourself, or anything that you'll be doing when you're out there building your network.

If you remember this at your core, to "Create value" all the time, you're going to succeed. This is the only way to be great at networking.