Throughout our days, we often hear that an important part of business – or looking for a new job – comes down to our ability to network. But what does it really mean, and how do you learn to network well. In this two-part article, we’ll briefly highlight why you need to network, and how to do it effectively.
To many of our members within the Information discipline, networking refers to a very specific method in which a computer network shares and exchanges information and resources. Generally speaking, this can be applied to individuals, groups and institutions for the purpose of cultivating relationships for employment or business.
In a majority of instances, career experts estimate that many job openings are not advertised or made public. Instead these positions are often filled through word-of-mouth. Developing a well-connected network allows you to tap into this ‘hidden job market’ and open up opportunities you may have not of know otherwise.
Whether it’s a position that is advertised or not, networking allows applicants to get their ‘foot in the door.’ In today’s competitive job market, there is an increasing supply of qualified and skilled workers. Networking is about focusing on building relationships and making other people more likely to vouch for you and recommend you for a job. The purpose of networking isn’t just about who you know, but having them know you and your technical and non-technical abilities.
In addition to helping you overcome the initial challenge of getting employers to even consider you for the position, networking provides you with insight beyond a Google search about a company that you might want to work for. You’re able to learn much about the organization, including some of their priorities and major projects. You’ll get an idea about the corporate culture and if that company is somewhere you’d like to work. Having that ‘inside track’ helps you to understand the environment and prepare you for a potential job interview down the road.
The end goal of networking is to help you find a job that you want and will be successful at. Some experts estimate that networking will increase your chances of being interviewed, and ultimately hired, by a factor of 5-10 times. So consistently expanding your network is definitely worth the time and energy needed. In part II of our article, we’ll discuss how to network effectively.