6 Steps to Successful Business Networking: How to Get the Job

Most people assume that companies aim to hire the most qualified candidates with potential to advance quickly and make an immediate impact. The truth is that companies often fall short in this regard. Hundreds of resumes pour into firms for a single opening, and it can be impossible to sort through them all and find the best applicant. This is why networking is so important for getting a job and advancing your career. Networking with former or current employees can be a difference-maker in the hiring process. Here are six steps to successful business networking.

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1. Build genuine relationships by asking for information

Networking is most successful when you build genuine connections. It takes time to build trust in any relationship, and great ones are never one-sided. Nobody likes an opportunist and no one likes being used. People prefer to do business with someone they trust. If a business colleague is eventually going to vouch for you and suggest your name for a position, they are putting their own reputation on the line. Not only do they want to know that you are competent and capable, but they also want to see that you are sincere. If you are just starting to network, begin your efforts by reaching out and asking for information regarding an industry, company, or role, rather than simply asking for a job. This has the added benefit of building greater comfort and confidence with your networking skills.

2. Campus and career resources

Many applicants now have college degrees or graduate education, and if you had the benefit of receiving an advanced education, tap into the resources that your college can provide. Most colleges have career centers and counselors that connect students with employers by providing contact information or hosting job fairs. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door, in front of someone applying cold off the street. Many schools have strong alumni networks that can link current students with graduates. Alumni events are opportunities for meeting people in person; bring a business card and learn to remember names.

3. Resume: Review, review, review!

This should go without saying, but many managers and recruiters mention the fact that most resumes have typos and other errors, or are incoherent. Find an above-average template and organize your resume by highlighting your experience, which is the most important thing that companies look for when hiring. Read it out loud to yourself to pick up errors you might have missed, and then have a few other people do the same. It helps to have an extra set of eyes reviewing your resume. If you want professional advice regarding your resume, you might consider finding a recruiter or headhunter.

4. Reach out to recruiters and headhunters

Recruiters and headhunters are becoming increasingly prevalent in the business world today. If you are already established in your industry, headhunters might already be coming with offers from companies looking for top candidates. If you are still early in your career, being proactive and seeking them out yourself can help open doors that would otherwise be closed. Recruiters can provide feedback on your resume, help you highlight your most important skills, and find jobs that you might not have known about. They often get paid when you get placed, so it is in their best interest to find you the right fit.  

5. Social media networking

Technology has impacted so many different industries, and the business world is no exception. Social networking allows people to not only connect and stay in touch with friends and family, but it has also allowed business contacts to remain connected. LinkedIn has become the go-to site for business social networking. It allows you to find new contacts, remain in touch with current ones, and stay abreast of current events and updates among those in your network and in the business world in general. Many companies also post jobs on LinkedIn, and you can even reach out to human resource managers. If you don’t already have an account, make one. Twitter and Facebook, although less professional, can also be a good way to follow businesses, clients, and associates.

6. Practice makes perfect

Networking can seem daunting, and it can be intimidating to reach out to people you don’t know well, but it can significantly propel your professional career forward. If you are apprehensive, start by reaching out to friends and family, and share your goals and professional plans. Perhaps a friend just got hired or already works for a company that you’re interested in; reach out to them, ask for more information, and see if they can put you in touch with more people at the firm. You may be among those who need time to get comfortable networking, but you will get better with practice. With some experience, you’ll be able to talk to complete strangers and create a genuine business connection in no time.   

In the competitive business world today, it can be hard to stand out in a crowd of qualified candidates. Networking can be an excellent way to distinguish yourself, make connections, and advance your career. Building genuine business relationships will take time and practice, but putting forth the effort to improve will help develop your networking skills. Using the right resources available to you, and building a pool of connections and contacts who know you well and can vouch for your skills and experience, can go a long way toward helping you land the job you always wanted.

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