Discover the Value, Resources in Professional NetworkingYou’re likely familiar with the old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In today’s competitive job market, both sentiments are true. Having a quality education, career-ready skills and a strong professional network can make all the difference in your success.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers require postsecondary education to not only advance to higher-level roles, but also for entry-level positions. Once you earn your degree, having a foot in the door can give you an edge over other applicants. That’s where networking comes in.

Not only can networking help you land a job faster, it can also create lifelong connections and friendships. As you start to build your professional network, remember, as with any relationship, it’s a two-way street. If you only reach out when you need a favor, people may be less inclined to help you. But if you nurture mutually beneficial partnerships, potential career opportunities often present themselves.

Where to Start

One of the most convenient and effective places to network is online. Here at Grantham University, for example, our graduates can join the Grantham University Alumni Connections group on LinkedIn (requires individual LinkedIn account/login first). This group enables Grantham students and alumni to connect with recruiters, access professional development resources and view employment opportunities.

In general, LinkedIn allows you to optimize your resume with a summary paragraph of who you are and what you’re looking for, your skills and endorsements from others, and your interests. Being aware of keywords employers may be using in searches (and including these keywords in your profile) can help move your profile up on the list of search results. Be as specific as possible, depending on your needs. For example, you might change “seeking new opportunities” to “seeking business management position in (city).”

While LinkedIn is by far the most popular professional networking site, you may also want to consider additional online platforms that apply to your career field and experience. If you’re an aspiring nurse, there’s the medical network Doximity. If you serve or have served in the military, you can connect with other service members, veterans and employers through RallyPoint.

Meetup is an online social networking site that facilities offline meetings with people who share your personal and professional passions. You can explore and join groups by category, find local events, and even create your own Meetup community. This platform is truly the best of both worlds.

For more real-world interactions, a quick Google search for networking groups and events in your area will do the trick. For example, if you want to break into the marketing field, enter “marketing networking events in (city).” Sometimes, it’s just that easy.

Networking Tips

Though networking can feel intimidating, it’s often fairly simple. The advice you’ve heard time and time again is key: Be yourself. Networking is your opportunity to share and receive information, not sell. Relax, have fun and consider the following tips for successful networking experiences, on and offline.

Be prepared.

Dress in standard business attire (in person and in your online profile picture), bring plenty of business cards (if you have them), and do your research on other attendees (or online connections). Develop an elevator pitch to introduce yourself.

Listen.

When you join a conversation, really listen, instead of thinking of a response or scanning the room for your next “target.” First and foremost, pay attention so you can later recall the names of those you met. Even better, ask for a business card — especially if you have just given someone yours. You might even write some helpful notes on the back of the card while the meeting is still fresh in your mind.

Look for the value add.

Look for opportunities to help the person with whom you’re talking. By offering a referral, recommendation or valuable piece of information, you can make a positive first impression and position yourself as a team player.

Bring a friend.

Bringing a friend with you can help ease the pressure of in-person networking. But it’s important to choose someone that can help you branch out. In other words, your companion is not meant to be a crutch you hang onto all night.

Follow up.

Once you’ve made a connection, follow up within a few days. Send these people an email or message on LinkedIn and thank them for their time. If you are really interested in opportunities with someone, ask if he/she has time to meet for lunch or to chat on the phone at a later date.

Grantham Can Help

Whether you’re looking for your first great job, a transition into a new role or a career change, Grantham University has the professional development tools and one-on-one assistance you need. Our Career Services staff, through the Career Launch program, can help you identify your key strengths, create a social media presence and build your network … among many other services and resources the group offers.

We suggest first checking out Grantham’s Career Services overview, and if you see something you’d like to learn more about, feel free to call 1-800-955-2527 Ext. 173 or email careerservices@grantham.edu. And don’t forget that alumni connections group on LinkedIn we mentioned earlier in this post.

If you’re weighing the benefits of enrolling in college for your career development, Grantham can help with that, too. With more than 50 degree and certificate programs for undergraduates and graduates, there’s a good chance we have something that meets your unique needs and goals.

 

And if you have questions, we have answers. Fill out the form on this page, or chat live with our admissions team, to learn more.

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