Networking and developing contacts in your field can present you with many opportunities. However, networking can be difficult because you want to maintain professionality whilst improving your relationships with your peers.
You can simplify networking by following these suggestions:
Referrals are key in meeting new people. Being introduced through people who you already know and who understand what you are looking for can make networking a lot easier. You are more likely to receive a positive response than you are if you try to get in contact with someone you have no mutuals with.
Social media provides an opportunity to get to know people better before you reach out to them. By looking at social media, you might be able to distinguish like-minded people with whom you can start interacting on social media.
Avoid directly asking for a job! The purpose of networking is to build relationships so that when the opportunity presents itself, your contact may be more willing to refer you.
Another way you can begin the conversation and establish relationships is by asking others to review your resume. This means that they familiarise themselves with your work experience and qualifications and they are more likely to think of you if an opportunity is well-suited to your experience.
Try to avoid taking too much of their time or taking up all of the conversation. Let the other person share their experiences and advice and make sure that you listen to what they have to say. You can also ask relevant questions which will show that you are interested in their work.
Aim to maintain contact by finding a reason to follow up with them. For example, link them to articles that are relevant to a conversation you might have had and provide an interesting point of discussion.
Finally, always say thank you! Show appreciation to your connection for the information they have provided and ask if there is anything you can do to help them. Sharing knowledge will help build a valuable relationship that can help both yours and their professional careers.