Let’s face it. Finding a job – regardless of your level of experience – can be a challenging task. In this blog series, we plan to equip you with the power to land the job of your dreams with 10 helpful tips for the job-seeking ECP. Let’s get started! Job Search Tip #5: 3 Best Practices for Professional Networking

Large group of business people discussing.

So you’ve been invited to a professional networking event, and it’s been a while since you last attended this type of event (or you’ve never been to one in the first place). Where do you begin?  Since in-person professional networking is still very relevant to the job search process, we’ve come up with three best practices to equip you with the tools necessary to ensure success at your next networking event. 1. Prepare Similar to what you would normally do before an important job interview, research and preparation are critical elements for success in professional networking environments.  As you prepare for your next networking event, take some time to familiarize yourself with the guest list of notable attendees and determine who – if anyone – you think you should “rub elbows” with during the event. More importantly, take some time to learn a few key bits of information about some of the individuals you hope to meet.  You can’t necessarily anticipate the types of discussions that will occur during the event, but being prepared ahead of time will give you the advantage over other job seekers if you’re able to contribute to the conversation. 2. Engage Another important thing to remember about professional networking is to be proactive in reaching out to others during the event.  Don’t expect anyone to approach you simply because you showed up with a resume in hand and a smile on your face.  You’re going to have to put yourself out there if you want to make some important contacts. On the other hand, you also don’t want to be “that person” who runs around like crazy talking to as many people as possible with the clear intent of finding a job. Keep it subtle, but let it be known through those subtleties where you are in your career.  People are generally receptive to your situation and will usually listen to what you have to say and, sometimes, provide some helpful advice that you can use in your career search.  Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll walk away with a job offer – but you’ve most likely opened some excellent doors in the process. 3. Follow Up The third and final approach to networking success is that you should always follow up with those whom you’ve established contact with during the course of the event.  This simple gesture is typically very much appreciated, and it helps those you’ve spoken to remember you if and when you ever need to contact them again (especially if it’s job search related).  Following up doesn’t have to be too time consuming – a simple ‘nice to meet you’ email or LinkedIn message will typical suffice. Overall, professional networking can be an excellent way to propel yourself into the job search arena. By adequately preparing for, engaging in, and following up with your networking activities, you can create the critical contacts necessary to add fuel to your job search.  Successful networking events don’t always guarantee a job offer, or even an interview for that matter, but they can be an excellent segue into the job of your dreams if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work. How do you get ready for networking events? Comment to let your voice be heard!