It’s no secret that many professionals consider networking to be the most effective way to find a new job. Industry contacts often have information about opportunities at their companies, or a colleague’s business, and also are great sources of information on trends related to skills, salaries, and industries where your talents may be particularly hot. Besides all that, they can introduce you to new people in your sector, allowing you to expand the reach of your own efforts and the range of your professional reputation.
The keys to successful networking have always been relatively simple: Make an effort to stay in touch, spend more of your time helping your contacts than asking for help, and be generous in sharing information making introductions. It’s a tried-and-true approach that can make your career more dynamic, engaging and rewarding.
But as the gig economy grows, the rules of networking are shifting. Professionals pursuing careers in the on-demand workforce should understand that, more than ever, keeping up with your contacts – keeping them abreast of what you’re doing and staying on top of the latest developments in their professional lives – has become critical.
In the gig economy, keeping up with your contacts is critical.
So how can you make sure your efforts are effective?
- Be consistent. Networking has always been most effective when approached as an ongoing effort, something you do when you’re not looking for a job. That’s even more the case today, when consultants must, by necessity, always have one eye on the employment market. Build your networking efforts into your routine. Regularly schedule get-togethers with your contacts, and also check in by phone or email on a regular basis.
- Be aggressive. Look for ways to expand your network, whether it’s by asking existing contacts for introductions to new ones, attending networking events, or becoming active on social media outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter. Spread the word that you’re an expert in your field and are always interested in tackling new assignments.
Networking isn’t about calling up someone and asking for help. It’s about looking for ways to assist others.
- Be smart. At the same time, remember that being aggressive doesn’t mean you should try to meet everyone involved in your industry, no matter what their role. Specifically, identify and research people whose knowledge complements yours, or who might one day be in need of your services.
- Be a giver. Networking isn’t about calling up someone and asking for help. It’s about looking for ways to assist others, whether that’s with advice, helping them make a new connection or being a sounding board as they work through a problem. When you’re in touch with contacts, be on the alert for opportunities to help others out. They’ll remember your favors, and will look to pay you back.
- Be social. If you find it challenging to meet new people, seek small gatherings sponsored by networking groups. These take place in casual settings, often over breakfast or dinner, where conversation flows easily.
In the gig economy people change positions frequently, acquire skills they might never before have considered necessary, and spend more of their time reaching out to recruiters, prospective employers and colleagues whose interests align closely with theirs. Take an active and well-thought-out approach to your networking, and your efforts will pay dividends in the form of more and better opportunities.
IQ Workforce is hosting a series of networking events in cities around the country. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about upcoming events.