Why Networking is More Important than Ever

Why Networking is More Important than Ever

Elizabeth Shultz, M.Ed., CRC, CPRW

In a time of uncertainty that is our current job market, we are all stretching our comfort zones and doing our best to adapt. So, how do you keep up? How do you stay relevant as a professional in a state of constant flux? More importantly, what do you do if you find yourself unemployed?

Take comfort in knowing there are some constants and you probably already know at least one. Networking. It’s not a dirty word. Most people can cite a time they got a job through a personal connection. The following techniques will help you to be more effective in networking and self-marketing. Even if you are not looking for a new job, these techniques can help you stay relevant and preserve your current position by adding to the value you bring to the employer.

You Know Everyone You Need to Know

Think about the connections you have in the family, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, local businesses you frequent, fellow churchgoers, etc. Then think about who they know. Where there is a will, there’s a connection. These connections help businesses grow, lead to stronger communities, and result in employment opportunities.

Social Media Presence

This is your universal platform for selling yourself and it’s free advertising. Not only do you want to market yourself to prospective employers but you’re also creating and adding value to your current employer by having a strong social media presence.

Only use good quality, professional-quality profile pics.

No matter which sites you use, be aware of your posts. Refrain from polarizing comments or politically charged posts. Even if your profile is set to private, you may be surprised who can see it. Especially when you comment on someone else’s page. Rest assured, employers are checking you out either before your interview or prior to extending a job offer. If you haven’t already, Google yourself.

LinkedIn is Your Friend

LinkedIn is a great tool to connect and doesn’t have to be intimidating. Everyone should have a well-developed profile with a concise summary. (If you find it hard to create these, there are online tutorials and professional services to help.) Be active. Like other people’s posts, directly message people to get to know them better. Request connections. Join industry-related private groups. Remember, everyone started with zero connections. That’s the combined power of networking.

Be Ready with an Excellent Résumé

Going forward, résumés will be more important than ever as the job market becomes more competitive. Hiring managers and HR staff often must sift through piles of submissions from online applications. You want to stand out and you only have a few seconds to do it.

Writing your own résumé can be challenging and may feel awkward. Using a professional can be helpful. Once you’ve got a good resume, use it to network. Post it to your profile on LinkedIn or on job search sites like Indeed or Career Builder. Also, it will make a difference you apply for a promotion within your current company.

Online Networking

Many organizations are holding online networking events. In some ways, these can be less intimidating than in-person networking. Look for opportunities in professional organizations related to your field through those groups’ websites or your local chamber of commerce.

Remote Job Fairs

Many recruiters and representatives are hosting job fairs online or as a drive-thru option without social contact. Brush up on your etiquette to best promote yourself. Look the part and speak professionally. Even if you are only testing the waters for what emerging opportunities may be out there, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and network. You never know when you might need that connection.