If you are a recent graduate looking for work, it can seem like an uphill battle to get your foot in the door for your first real job. Professional networking is critical to help find and position yourself for the jobs you want. But it doesn’t happen on its own. You have to be an active networker, which happens much more naturally when you already have a job. But don’t let that stop you from growing your network. It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem, even for recent graduates. Here are some tips to help you break the ice and dive into networking to take your career to that next step.
Start With Digital Networking
Your networking strategy should be a balance of digital networking and personal connections. Update your LinkedIn profile and make sure that it is as much a representation of your professionalism as your resume and cover letter. Many recruiters and employers rely on LinkedIn to find top-quality candidates for upcoming opportunities with their firms. Furthermore, if you reach out and connect with former colleagues and other professional connections online, you will build a digital network that can notify you of jobs before they are even posted.
Rather than building a professional network from scratch, look into joining a professional society or organization relevant to your field to help connect with people who share your interests. Many people (both introverts and extroverts alike) rely on these organizations for networking opportunities and professional connections. Being around other people who share your profession, interests, or skills can help put introverts at ease. Just think, the chances of having something to talk about with someone you’ve met at a professional organization are much better than other events. Do a little research to see what societies are most relevant to you.
Get Out In Your Community
Professional organizations are an excellent resource for building your network. But community organizations can also be a great resource for making connections. We really can each benefit from meeting and engaging with people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. Consider joining a civic group, such as Kiwanis or Lions, or a volunteer-driven organization like Habitat for Humanity, or Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. You should focus on sharing your expertise to build your network. And keep in mind that every connection you make is the addition of another professional network to your network resulting in exponential growth, which can pay off.
Think Outside the Box
Networking opportunities aren’t limited to professionals who’ve been in the industry for ages. You never know when or where the next opportunity will come. Networking opportunities can occur in just about any situation. The trick is to place yourself in the path of other professionals that might turn out to be a good connection. Do you work out at a gym close to an office you’d like to work at? Rather than tuning out the world, consider joining a class. Chances are your classmates will also be professionals working nearby. Having the chance to interact and build friendships with other professionals in a more relaxed atmosphere helps to take the pressure off, but can still result in some high-quality professional connections.
Contact ESGI for Advice
For more advice on where to get started on your career path, connect with the team at ESGI today.