Quick fire networking tips
While many people cringe at the mere mention of the word ‘networking’, the fact is, networking is an important tool for developing your career, expanding your knowledge and accessing opportunities.
But what is networking exactly?
Networking is really just establishing and building professional relationships over time.
One key area where your networks may be able to lend a hand is finding a job. It is estimated that between 60% to 80% of jobs in Australia are not advertised through traditional recruitment channels. Instead, these jobs are filled through networking and word of mouth. Finding talent through these sources is increasingly called the ‘hidden job market’.
If you are new to networking and don’t know where to start, below are a few pointers about how to develop your networks to tap into this important hidden job source:
- Join some professional networks – if you feel that you don’t have any professional networks, then this is your chance to start some! You may be quite amazed to find out there are all types of industry and professional associations out there. Do some research and find out what are the main professional bodies and associations in the industry you work in or are looking for work in. Find out what you need to do to join and participate in their activities, such as online forums or attending networking events. Below is a snapshot of some professional associations across different sectors in Australia:
- Accounting jobs – Institute of Public Accountants
- Administration and office jobs – Australian Institute of Office Professionals
- Aged care jobs – Association of Age Service Professionals (AASP)
- Community service jobs – The Australian Community Industry Alliance
- Customer service jobs – Customer Service Institute of Australia.
- Disability jobs – National Disability Practitioners
- Early childhood education jobs – Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA)
- Engineering jobs – Engineers Australia
- Trades and construction jobs – Master Builders Association.
- Check out local opportunities – In addition to professional associations, it is also valuable to develop networks in your local area. As a result, investigate opportunities where you can meet people and expand your contacts. This could include attending local careers fairs, as well as presentations or workshops hosted by your local council or local business chamber. Also, consider joining some special interest groups in your community, such as a local environmental group, a club such as Toastmasters or trying some volunteering with a charity or other social cause to expand your network of contacts. To find out what types of networking opportunities are available in your local area, check out the social media sites of your local council, as well as your local newspaper.
- Consider online networking – If you are drawn to communicating digitally, then developing online networks may be worth exploring. Find opportunities to network through social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, including online meetups, workshops and seminars. Remember to keep your interactions professional and keep away from providing opinions on controversial topics. Your aim with these online interactions should be the same as face to face interactions – developing and maintaining productive relationships.
- Be prepared before attending face to face networking – When you get an opportunity to attend networking functions, make sure you are prepared in advance. Don’t go to these events with the specific goal of getting or asking for a job. Instead, make sure you attend with some questions for the people you will meet – questions about their knowledge and experience are generally the most effective. Be ready to share some information about yourself, your experience and your achievements. If you feel comfortable, exchange details so you can build upon the relationship in the future. Importantly, don’t take up too much of each person’s time – make the connection, be memorable, and then wrap it up.
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