by Kristy Amburgey
Career practitioners talk about networking. A lot. It is for good reason that we focus so much of our attention on this subject. Networking gets results. When it comes right down to it, it is investing in networking relationships that often yields the best results. Schmoozing is about quick conversations turned into even quicker professional interactions. Successful networking, though, is a time-tested and fully committed relationship that can benefit both parties involved. These relationships are your “connect with me” but “let’s truly get to know each other” connections.
Throwing out invites to network may help you gain a foothold in a company, and that is valuable. But now comes the true test of a networking partnership: taking the relationship to the next level. What is that next level? It’s having a solid relationship with someone to where the person is willing and able to attest to your abilities, accomplishments and professionalism (in more casual language, sticking his or her neck out for you), and you are able to do the same for your connection. It is a relationship built on mutual respect and a desire to help each other succeed.
You may already have these mutually beneficial relationships developed. Faculty, fellow classmates, team members, co-workers and supervisors have seen you in action and hopefully are willing to support you through your job search. These close connections should be nurtured and maintained throughout your professional career. Keep your close relationships informed about your accomplishments and future goals through quarterly emails, quick updates via social media and coffee dates. You can share articles and news-worthy information with them, and you may even want to request professional feedback and advice.
For connections who don’t have close interactions with you, develop opportunities for them to see you in action. Volunteering, working on short-term projects, staying connected, sharing feedback via social media and more can put you in situations where others can see how valuable and knowledge you are.
Maintaining your relationships is a top priority, but you should also identify how you can meet new connections. This step is easy; meet people in any capacity you can, including PTO gatherings, professional organizations, chance encounters, interoffice meetings and more. Meeting others via long distance networking can be challenging, but resources such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ provide outlets for gathering new friends and nurturing existing relationships.
In addition to throwing out the “connect with me” request, you should devote time getting to know people and allowing them to get to know you. Networking is a lifelong professional goal, and it is built on relationships that stand up to weak economies, cyclical industries, distance and changes. Networking is about investing in yourself by building strong relationships with others.
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.