When you are looking for a job, networking is one of the things that can set you apart from 80% of the other people who are also looking for a new job. With a vibrant professional network, you can raise your odds of finding out about job openings and build connections with people who can recommend you for an open position. But how do you create that sort of network? Well, for most of us, it doesn't just happen. It takes a great deal of work and planning, and there are several mistakes you should watch out for along the way.
Some of the most common, and most damaging mistakes you can make when it comes to networking are:
- Not believing in yourself- If you don't believe that you are someone that others should get to know, no one else is going to believe it. This is why it is so important that you think about what makes you special, where your skills lie and what you have to offer. It can help to think about compliments you have heard most frequently from customers, co-workers and supervisors. If the same things come up over and over, then you can be sure that those are qualities you can count on and believe in. After all, it isn't likely that they all came up with the same piece of flattery. Market yourself based on those skills and talents and believe in yourself and your worth.
- Not having a plan- It isn't enough to make social networking accounts and hope for the best. You really need to have a plan of attack and idea of where you want to go. Start small by adding your friends and family. Then think about reaching out to co-workers and others at your level. Research companies or leaders in your field to add as well. Adding people online isn't always enough. Look for opportunities to meet people in person at conferences, conventions and even job fairs.
- Not having a pitch- For anyone trying to grow their network, having a well thought out elevator pitch is important. An elevator pitch is a 60-90 second speech designed to market you and your abilities. Once you have it written out, practice, practice, practice, until it is second nature. When you are meeting someone you want to impress, you don't want to stumble and falter over your words. With a preplanned pitch, you can look them in the eye, smile and tell them about yourself.
- Not checking your Internet presence- Routinely do a web search on your name to find out what information is available about you. You never know what might have found its way to the web, so keep tabs on it. Remember, this is your reputation, protect it.
- Stopping networking once you have a job- Networking is an on-going process. Just because you found a new job doesn't mean that you are done. On the contrary, it is just the beginning. Once you are comfortable in your new position, you will have more opportunities to network and create contacts that can last throughout your career.
- Giving up hope- When you have been out of work for an extended period of time, there comes a point when you just give up. Oh, you may still send in resumes and go to an interview or two, but you have really given up and are just going through the motions. It is like an employee who has quit but still keeps showing up. Once you lose the spark, it shows. If you think that you may be in this situation, think of ways to re-energize your search and add some enthusiasm. A positive attitude is contagious, and everyone you meet, interviewers included, can feel it and it makes them want you on their team.
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By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.