Expanding Your Network

No one gets very far without the help of other people. Both personally and professionally, people grow when others give them their support. This is especially true in the sometimes volatile world of the workforce. The old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is more evident than ever with the dawn of social media as a key career metric. The tools of social media and contacts are only valuable when they are implemented effectively and cultivated meticulously; not simply gathered for show and used for last-second recommendations. Don’t simply rely on email blasts and a slew of LinkedIn invitations, look for local networking events or professional mixers to establish strong relationships. A solid professional network can act as a consistent base for opportunities, information, and human capital that can be extremely valuable for all involved.

Scouring through faceless resumes has become less and less frequent with the expectation of candidates to maintain a public LinkedIn profile. Aside from a more holistic representation of the candidate, LinkedIn offers the benefit of employers being able to see if they have any mutual connections with their prospective hires. While thorough formal references are always a key aspect of any hiring process, being able to get a more personal account of a candidate from a colleague is usually preferable because of familiarity. Over 77% of recruiters currently rely on LinkedIn as a key aspect of their search. Having a robust network can serve as both a talent pool for your organization as well as provide more background about other decision-makers in your industry.

The idea of sharing information is fundamental to most social media platforms but is usually frowned upon in competitive professional settings. The hierarchy of seniority and the idea of competition between rising professionals can make it seem as though mutually beneficial relationships are counterintuitive when really the opposite is true. Reaching out to industry leaders is the best way to develop your understanding of your craft even if there isn’t a position currently tied directly to their organization. Connecting with peers at a similar level or even outside of your industry can provide realistic insight into other people’s trajectories and mutually inspire career decisions. Making meaningful connections leads to a more rich and fulfilling work experience as opposed to limiting your contact with those up and down the ladder in your current field.

Learning about other career paths can have a huge impact on your own trajectory. Going to local industry events or reaching out to individuals in other professions can lead to identifying opportunities that will never be listed. Limiting yourself to existing means of job search tools doesn’t allow you to best market yourself and puts you at a disadvantage to others who put effort into their professional relationship building. About 60% of jobs are found and filled through networking; not online postings. Employers, especially those looking for talent in new or upcoming ventures, want to hire people they are familiar with and can trust particularly in leadership roles. Even if a networking opportunity doesn’t seem to be in your field of expertise, don’t miss a chance to learn about how transferrable your skills may be or engage with a professional who may offer key advice. Being open to all levels of networking is the only way to ensure you are maximizing your potential to grow through others.

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