There are many ways to network, and if it is not your natural inclination to get out there and sell yourself, there are some workarounds. There are three important factors that I think need to be honored, or your best networking efforts will fall flat. It’s all about the groundwork that facilitates the networking.
Go to job fairs and TALK
Networking is like a muscle and you must exercise it so you can flex your skills for that dream job. You might be a natural born talker but if not, then don’t fret.
By approaching people from a company, you can show initiative and quickly test whether you have chemistry between you and the employer. You’ll get a feel for the company culture and get a chance to evaluate the employer, which is always a fun moment.
If they don’t immediately have a position for you, you can always make a valuable contact that could come through for you down the stretch.
Keep your job application skills sharp
A big part of networking is applying for jobs and/or reaching out to companies and employers. One reason this is effective is because if you make a good impression, you can get called in for a talk, hired outright, or have your CV passed on to someone who is a better fit.
When I applied to be community manager at the startup office, The Camp, my CV was passed on to a startup that was in the market for a communications officer. Because I was used to networking, highlighting my strengths, and doing so modestly when I was called in for a casual talk, I made an impression that got me the position.
You’ve probably heard that you should apply unsolicited and this is really true, you’ll get a lot of rejections – get used to it – but you never know when a breakthrough is around the corner. You can win points for sheer perseverance for reaching out to a contact and politely hitting them up for a job – do not underestimate this!
You might be a natural born talker but if not, then don’t fret
Have a professional portfolio ready
An online presentation of the skills you offer can serve as a type of business card.
There are free options, blogger, medium, free WordPress blogs. Just make sure it’s not sloppy, this is a digital first impression of your skills and can send a message to your future employer. Ever been published, had a volunteer job, designed anything? Put it on display. Brush up that LinkedIn profile and get a leg up on your competition.