Building a Career Network

Networking in person and online allows you to meet people who can help you get your next job. Even for seasoned professionals, networking can be daunting. Here are a few tips to get you started.

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Growing Your Network

Reach out to people you know. Tell your family, friends, neighbors and past coworkers that you're looking for a job, and share with them what interests you.

Sign up for networking events. If you're shy, attending an event that was created specifically for networking might be easier, since everyone else will be networking, too. Then you can take the skills you've learned there to other events, where networking isn't the main focus.

Join career-oriented social networks.Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Meetup, can help you meet even more people in your industry who might help you land a job.

Impressing Potential Contacts

Practice your handshake. A firm handshake shows potential colleagues and employers that you are confident. Test with your family and friends, and they'll tell you if your handshake is too weak or too strong.

Work on your eye contact skills. Networking isn't easy, but eye contact can help people remember your name. You don't need to stare deeply into another person's eyes, but do listen carefully and demonstrate genuine interest in what the person is saying.

Always project a professional online presence. Make sure your social media presence reflects you and your work in a positive light. Use a professional email address, don't share anything online that might embarrass you later and make sure that all of your personal profiles broadcast the same message you would send to a future employer.

Helping Potential Contacts Remember You

Print a business card. By carrying a few business cards with you, you will always be prepared if an opportunity arises. The card should include your name, your phone number, a professional email address and a link to your online work portfolio (if applicable).

Make it easy to show your work to others. By placing your portfolio or résumé online, you'll make it easier to send out links to your work and your documents, if applicable. 

Write thank-you notes. If anyone gives you helpful advice or offers to set up a meeting with someone who can help your career, be sure to collect his or her contact information and send thanks. A handwritten note still makes a great impression, but a sincere email can work well if you can't find your contact's postal address.

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