How to jump-start building a professional network

Jump-starting your professional network is going to boost your chances of landing the job you want and building a successful career.

Here are some top tips for how to jump-start building a professional network.

Be a professional
First, you need to be a professional. You will need a professional headshot. If you can’t afford a professional one now, take a look at some you like and have a friend help you by taking your picture and recreate a similar pose and look.

Guest blogger Hannah Dickens

Guest blogger Hannah Dickens

Check out everything you have online for the public. Update the platform you were once using to look for work. Update all of your social media sites discarding anything that would be embarrassing for a potential employer or recruiter to view.

Create a digital portfolio.
Add an email signature that includes links to all of your social media networking sites, your digital profile and your work profile on any recruiting sites.

No time for online social media networking?
Check out buffer.com and hootsuite.com where you can manage several accounts from one place.

Worried about your online reputation?
Check out mention.com and stay on top of your reputation.  Know what others can see about you quickly.

Build strong relevant social networks
Your social networks should be consistent.  Use social networks to explain your major and the job and position you are pursuing. Spend time writing an excellent summary of your skills, education, qualifications and experience. Join groups that are relevant to your profession and ask appropriate questions and give well thought out responses. Ask questions that will help you grow and develop in your field. This can get the attention of recruiters, human resource managers and other professionals that might be able to help you land the position you are seeking.

According to the Jobvite survey, nine in ten recruiters say they find talent using social networks. While LinkedIn is their primary platform, nearly half use Twitter to locate and vet job candidates.

Join professional associations related to your industry. Attend their meetings, mixers and speak when invited. Talk and network with others in your field.

Publish content specific to your industry
Establish credibility and increase your reputation. Find meaningful content to fill a specific need in your field. Publishing content can prove you know what you are talking about and help you connect with others.

Connection
An easy place to begin is your alumni. Your alumni association will help you connect with professionals at all levels whom you can contact asking for leads, introductions and advice.

You will want to connect with people who are more successful, make more money, are in higher positions and have more resources. You will also want to connect with people who are at your level and “below” your level.

Nobody stays at the same level forever and there’s value in meeting people at all different levels. It is not appropriate to only “network up”. Someone who is currently lateral to you might be able to work with you someday and somebody who is currently below you may climb the ladder quicker than you.

Respect all of your connections. Ideally, you will be connected to a mentor, a coach, others who understand your industry, the innovator, the friends who are super connected with everyone, the visionary and the wanna-be as all of these great people will be able to take from you and give to you.

Always be considerate, helpful and caring. This will build strong relationships and help you with connecting. Be intentional about connecting and continue building a long-lasting professional network.

Connecting takes a lot of time and effort. The benefits are getting to learn from others, help others and obviously it can open doors for your future endeavors.

Hannah Dickins is a Community Manager at Directorstats.co.uk. She’s a self-confessed technology addict. She’s interested in the eLearning industry and new helpful online tools.

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