Building a Professional Network – Why it’s a Career Must

Anyone who has been on the job hunt recently recognizes how important networking is to the job search. In fact, networking should not stop once you have secured a position. As a business practice, it should be considered a critical component of your daily work-life, and cultivating a career network will not only help ensure current job success but also future career prospects.

So how do you go about establishing a career network? First, there are two forms – formal and informal networking. Formal networking encompasses many forms. This can include joining associations affiliated with your current field, or one you would like to pursue. Along these same lines, attending events hosted by groups or other affiliated organizations will help expand your network. These affiliations will expose you to contacts that may be important to your current job, as well as establish good relationships for future career goals. Do not forget your own office when it comes to establishing a formal career network. Building in-office associations, such as joining company committees or participating in group events, can go a long way in positioning yourself as a solid performer.

Consider inviting colleagues from other departments out to lunch to help build your network, or request informational meetings with higher-ups to expand your inter-office relationships. Ultimately, you wan to align yourself with business associates that share a common theme – inside or outside of the office. Stay in contact with former colleagues. Consider making additional networking contacts through affiliations such as your alumni association, local volunteering groups and businesses conferences. Informal networking is also an invaluable tool to job success. You are probably networking on an informal basis daily without much thought. Associations with family, friends and neighbors can turn into future job opportunities.

Invitations to dinners or cocktail parties can open you to making contacts within your current job or a field you are interested in pursuing. Whether you take a formal or informal approach, network online or offline, in the office or outside of work, building a career network and solid relationships can be beneficial to your current and future job success. And most importantly, remember that networking goes both ways. A give and take relationship is important for anyone looking to build a career network.

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