Networking is constantly drilled into our heads as a crucial part of both searching for jobs and growing our careers. It all sounds so easy – talk to people, meet with people, stay in touch with people – but sometimes even these simple tasks can seem daunting.
Simplify things for yourself by setting small, attainable goals. For instance, reach out to three people a week when looking for a job and three people a month when in a job to keep up with contacts and keep yourself open for potential job growth.
Keep It Simple
Don’t overthink things. Imagine that you were on the receiving-end of these networking emails. Would they bother you? Would you find them strange? It’s more than likely that the answer to these two questions is “no.” Most people you reach out to know how it feels to be in your position, so they will most likely be understanding and respond kindly. Some may not be as nice, but that is just part of the process; don’t let it discourage you.
Think More Broadly
Remember that even if one of your contacts doesn’t seem to be the person who will be able to assist you, that doesn’t mean they don’t know the perfect person who can help you or that they don’t even just have some great career advice for you. Your current network is the greatest asset you have for expanding your network.
Keep up with contacts even when you don’t need/want anything. It will be ten times harder to reach out to someone in your network when you haven’t spoken to them in years and you are looking for a favor, job, or even just some career advice. Don’t put yourself in this position; make things easier for yourself by maintaining these relationships as you go. Continue working on improving your soft skills, such as active listening and presenting, which will make networking even easier for you.
Don’t Be Afraid
Remind yourself that you have nothing to lose. What is the worst-case scenario? Someone doesn’t respond? You lose a contact? That’s okay! If you don’t reach out to them to begin with you don’t really have them as a contact anyways. Any bad result will just put you back in the same place you are now; it won’t send you backwards. And any good result will propel you forward, so there is no reason not to get started! The only thing stopping you is you.
Pay It Forward
Finally, though this was touched on before, keep in mind that you are also part of someone else’s network. Respond kindly to those who come to you for advice/help. Never burn bridges. Do your best to assist them. One day they might be or know just the person you need to get to your dream job.