Networking has always been an essential tool for individuals looking to grow in their careers because it allows them to expand their contacts, connections, knowledge, and opportunities. For people who are looking to further their career development, building and maintaining professional relationships is a necessary component that can open more doors and present more opportunities than might otherwise be possible.
What is networking?
Networking is the process of interacting and connecting with other individuals who have a mutual career, industry, or interest in order to exchange information and ideas to develop social or professional contacts. Networking can be done in person or online, and professional networks can be built through a variety of ways, including:
- Career fairs
- College/university alumni.
- Staffing or recruiting agencies.
- Social media sites
- Current or past jobs.
Creating networks through multiple avenues will not only increase the number of connections and opportunities, but will diversify them as well.
Why is social media a valuable way to network?
While there are many beneficial forms of networking, social media is one type that has become increasingly popular as more and more people around the world join and use social media on a daily basis. In fact, according to the Digital 2023 April Global Statshot Report compiled by Datareportal, 60% of the world’s population now uses social media, and the average time spent on social media is two hours and twenty-four minutes per day. This means that 4.8 billion people around the globe are now utilizing social media. In the United States, an incredible 302.35 million people, or 90% of the total population, uses social media, so it makes sense that social media would be a strategic place to connect with people who have common careers and interests.
Although Facebook is the platform with the largest number of users, there are other social media sites that are great for building networks. LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, or X, are all social media platforms that are used by many businesses to network more efficiently and diversely. However, it is important to recognize that there are certain ways to go about networking when using social media.
Networking with social media
While the idea of using social media to build a network may seem relatively simple, it can be intimidating to think about reaching out to strangers and trying to build a relationship through the internet. It is important to keep the following in mind to increase your chances of success:
Keep messages brief
Many people use their phone for social media, and don’t want to have to scroll through a lot of text. Anything too long can be off-putting, and decrease the likelihood that they will read the entire message or send a follow-up response. Messages should be only three to four sentences in total and ideally contain 100 words or less.
Personalize the message
When reaching out to unfamiliar people, it is important to write it in a way that doesn’t feel like a generic message that could have been sent to anyone. Refer to the person by name, introduce yourself, and mention a connection the two of you have. This could include a mutual friend or acquaintance; a shared alma mater or degree; or a common career, industry, or interest. Personalization increases the chances of the individual accepting the message and responding.
Network with people of all levels
The chances of your message being rejected by a high-level executive are much more likely than by someone who is at or around your working level or in a managerial position. It is important to consider the long-term potential of your network rather than just the immediate benefits. By incorporating individuals on all different levels, you can grow together and increase your opportunities in the long run.
Ask for advice or feedback
This is another way to find a connection with an individual, especially someone who is in a higher-level position. Asking for career guidance can be a good way to build a relationship with someone who remembers what it was like when they were in your shoes.
Tailor your online presence
Ensure that your social media profiles are professional and include information that highlights your knowledge and experience. With more companies using artificial intelligence in recruitment, it is important to make sure you incorporate key words in your professional experiences or content that make it easier for others to find and connect with you.
Maintain your relationships
After putting all of the hard work and effort into contacting and making connections, it is important to keep building on these relationships as much as you would an in-person one. Fostering these relationships will help in building a strong network that can be mutually beneficial for everyone.