Networking. It’s a topic that has been written about a thousand times over, yet it continues to be as relevant as ever – even if you aren’t currently in the market for a job. After all, you never know when you might need your contacts, so it’s important to understand how to build your network effectively! It’s no secret that in our modern world, we’re faced with a digital barrage of communications – from SMS and email, to LinkedIn and even the humble telephone. But even in this digitally-driven environment, we’re still human. We crave connection and taking the time to show some professional courtesy can have a lasting impression on those around you.
One of the basic networking problems I’ve seen from job seekers comes down to a lack of communication – it’s too easy to see a message on LinkedIn and ignore it or let that phone call go to voicemail. Is this a side effect of having too many communication tools at our disposal? Or is it because people are reluctant to say no? For example, ensuring good communication when someone contacts you about a job might be as simple as saying “thank you for sending across this opportunity – I’m happy where I am but would love to connect” or “I’m not interested right now, but I might know a Developer in XYZ that is keen”. Whatever the situation, one of the most valuable networking tips to keep in mind is that people don’t forget how they have been treated (whether that’s positive or negative), so do your best to maintain goodwill and avoid burning bridges.
In a market like Melbourne IT (I mean, could you find a smaller market?), knowing how to maintain your professional network becomes even more important. I can’t get on the train without seeing people I know or go into a client meeting without discovering 3-4 mutual connections in the industry. My point is that it’s hard to hide a reputation when everyone knows everyone. Yes, it is a war for talent out there and very much a job seeker’s market right now, but all good things come to an end! The market will shift, your new manager may not be your cup of tea, your company may lose a major client – there are so many factors that could change someone’s employment situation.
At the end of the day, if you aren’t continuously working on your network, it makes it difficult to build your personal brand. In one extreme example, a senior Tech professional I spoke to recently (who was made redundant after 10 years with their employer), hadn’t even considered creating a LinkedIn profile until he got the news of his redundancy!
No matter what your position is, or whether you’re actively job searching or not, networking (and a little professional courtesy) can set you apart massively. Employers and recruiters alike will remember you for it, that’s for sure.
Have a networking experience you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.