Teamwork makes the dream work.
That mantra is essential for job seekers. The job search process has evolved into a more tactical process. As such, a strong, broad professional network has become a crucial resource in the job search process.
A professional network consists of connected, like-minded people willing to help you achieve professional goals and improve your career. This team of people understands your skills and career goals, and can leverage their own networks to improve your chances of landing the right job.
The best way to build your professional network is to engross yourself with people who have achieved what you want to achieve.
Many people already have a good start because friends, fellow church members or neighbors offer excellent opportunities to expand your reach. These contacts may be social in nature, but you should learn where your professional lives overlap.
Additionally, volunteering is a great avenue to make new connections and build your professional network. Donating your time and skills to community organizations or projects puts you in contact with civic leaders and other volunteers who not only can offer insight and leads in your job search, but also can inspire you to push yourself to gain skills and tools necessary for the career you want.
Join local clubs and organizations whose members have professional goals similar to your own. Ask questions and learn how members of these groups achieved success.
Once you establish a new relationship, it’s important that you nurture it. Maintain consistent contact, and offer reciprocal assistance to strengthen your network.
Though face-to-face interaction always is more reputable, social media offers effective tools for growing and maintaining your professional network. However, be aware that anything you post online could be viewed by anyone, including your professional contacts and potential employers, regardless of your privacy settings. Be mindful of what connections you make, the threads you comment on and what you post.
Expanding your network pays off in many ways. One of those benefits is the development of the soft skills that employers value most. Employers are looking for employees who possess the ability to communicate effectively and work as a team, and who are flexible and dedicated. Those are the same skills needed to build a professional network, meaning the more you work toward creating a network of professionals working for and with you, the more opportunities you have to advance highly marketable soft skills.
For more information about building your professional network, contact a career counselor at The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail in Elizabethtown, Bardstown, Lebanon or Leitchfield. Our staff offers job seekers no-cost services from personalized coaching to resume assistance and interview skills training.
Jerisia Lamons is client service manager at Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. She can be reached at 270-766-5115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.