Networking has been proven the most effective tool for marketing your professional skills and getting a freelance job.
However, one should not equate this process to merely collecting business cards, having more friends on Facebook, or joining more groups on LinkedIn.
Authentic networking goes beyond these activities and produces results that are far more rewarding. Here are a few basic networking tips you should always remember:
Many companies do not publish their job vacancies on classified ads or job boards.
Some recruiters prefer to get recommendations from existing employees because these are more reliable than well-polished job applications.
This approach of hiring through word of mouth suggests that connecting with people can lead to a number of employment opportunities or the career path you’ve ever dreamed of.
How to Network
The first step to establishing a healthy network is summarized in this concept: Seek first to help then be helped.
Your assistance to others serves as the value you add to the network.
As people realize your worth, they gradually trust your capabilities and try to develop a symbiotic relationship with you. Once this is established, you will start getting referrals, offers, and endorsements.
Helping people doesn’t have to be grand in nature. In fact, the small but sincere acts we do for others already matter.
Here are some concrete and doable steps on how to provide value to your network:
- Share job opportunities to friends that are commensurate to their qualifications.
- Post sensible articles, updates, and photos on your social media accounts.
- Answer their questions about topics you’re good at.
- Communicate with them regularly; ask them how they are even if they are doing well.
- Make time to meet them in person. Technology can never replace the impact of offline interactions.
As you apply the suggestions above, do not assume all people to do the same thing for you. Nevertheless, just keep providing value. When you least expect it, the tables will turn and you will reap what you’ve sown.
Who to Network with
Everyone you encounter can be part of your network.
You can start by building smooth relationships with your family, friends, classmates and personal contacts. These people know other people who can be your potential employers, colleagues or business partners.
This fact is proven when you hear someone say, “I learned about this freelance job from my cousin’s friend who works for an American client” or “I got this gig when my classmate’s blogmate was looking for another writer in her team.”
It’s also wise to take networking to a higher level by joining professional groups online or offline. This is the best way to know key people in your industry.
For instance, software developers can join startup sessions or technology meet-ups to be acquainted with like-minded professionals. If you’re a virtual assistant or online recruiter, there must be online groups that allow you to interact with kindred people.
As a final tip, network as early as you can.
It shouldn’t start at the time your employment contract expired, when you got fired, or if you’re planning to shift to another career.
Remember that being proactive can bring you a step closer to your career needs and plans.