By Nikki Steingold
In the ever-evolving landscape of career development, the concept of networking remains a constant. It's not just about connecting with people; it's about cultivating meaningful relationships that can potentially open doors to unforeseen opportunities. Particularly for those re-entering the workforce after a career break or exploring new professional paths, building and nurturing a robust network is key to uncovering job prospects.
Reframe the concept of networking
According to a survey by LinkedIn, nearly 85% of jobs are filled via networking. This statistic underscores the importance of forging connections, maintaining relationships, and engaging with a diverse array of professionals.
Unfortunately, for many of us the idea of networking can trigger feelings of apprehension or nervousness, making it seem like a chore. However, reframing the concept as an opportunity to engage in authentic conversations and make meaningful connections can alleviate stress and facilitate more enjoyable interactions.
Networking doesn't have to be confined to formal events or structured settings. Opportunities to connect and build relationships abound in everyday situations. Engaging in conversations at community events, social gatherings, or even within online forums related to your professional interests can be organic ways to expand your network. Leveraging shared interests, hobbies, or passions can serve as a catalyst for networking. Joining clubs, hobby groups, or volunteering for causes you care about can lead to meeting individuals with similar interests, creating an environment conducive to building connections in a relaxed setting.
Express your interest in returning to work
Discussing your interest in returning to work with your network isn't just about announcing your intentions; it's about leveraging the collective knowledge, connections, and support of your professional contacts. It enables them to act as advocates on your behalf by providing guidance, recommending opportunities, or facilitating introductions that might not have been available otherwise.
By letting your network know about your return-to-work plans, you increase the likelihood of receiving referrals from individuals who are familiar with your skills and character.
Uncover opportunities before they are made public
One of the most powerful aspects of networking is its ability to unearth opportunities even when you aren't actively job hunting. Through a strong network, job seekers can be made aware of positions that align with their skills and interests, often before these opportunities are advertised. This "hidden job market" can be accessed through referrals, recommendations, and conversations that occur within your network.
Authentic bonds = unforeseen opportunities
Networking is an indispensable tool in uncovering job opportunities and professional prospects, often presenting hidden avenues inaccessible through traditional job searches. However, the true essence of networking lies not only in seeking opportunities but in fostering genuine connections and relationships. Embracing networking as a platform for organic conversations, learning from others, and forming authentic bonds alleviates the pressure of formal interactions and nervousness. By valuing the authenticity of connections over mere transactions, individuals can transform networking into a fulfilling journey of mutual support, knowledge sharing, and unforeseen opportunities.
Our friend, Mac Pritchard of "Mac's List" recently shared this podcast that illustrates the power of networking in uncovering opportunities.