If a few new friends could help you land a job, what’s stopping you from joining a networking group? Utilize these simple tips for efficient, effective networking at events.
When it comes to securing your next job title, you cannot rely completely on your education, experience and skill set to win over the hiring manager and land you the position. There is often too much competition.
To overcome this challenge, I always encourage job seekers to join networking groups and professional associations to align with industry leaders and hiring managers. Whether you are searching for your next job in the finance world, or something in the operations space, what sets many professional job seekers apart from the rest is corporate relationships and industry involvement – all possible to gain through valuable networking.
Networking groups and professional associations are great opportunities for building relationships — and jobs.
Networking groups are diverse, both in the style and types of attendees. Some are casual, whereas others are formal. Some are national, whereas others are regional. Some are run by large organizations, and individuals run others. While the list of differences is lengthy, all networking groups share a common goal: To bring career-driven professionals together to create connections and share ideas.
Professional associations are similar to networking groups, though there are some noteworthy differences. First, they are often focused on a similar group of professionals – for instance, maybe only accounting professionals, or CFOs. Networking groups are generally targeted toward a broader audience—open to everyone. Second, professional associations serve other purposes for job seekers besides forging connections and discussing key issues; they can be involved with the politics of their field, from education to ethics to setting standards. These professional groups are still a way to associate with people who could benefit your career—you’ll just be faced with a smaller, more specialized crowd.
It is vital that you attend each event with a prepared plan of action. Assuming your networking goal is to construct valuable connections that could land you a top job, here are five networking tips that will help any job seeker accomplish their career goals:
Find a Balance
Striking a balance is important in many aspects of life, and networking is no different. You should seem casual, yet remain professional. Networking is social; it can be low-key at night, out of the office and in a relaxed setting. Therefore, be yourself and blend in. This balance will go a long way in showcasing your communication skills and composure.
Conversation, whether it is work-related or not, is constant at networking events. As you meet new people and converse with familiar colleagues, always appear engaged and focused. Show that you have a genuine interest in both learning about others, and helping others learn about you.
Show enthusiasm for your career and current position, but express your concern in moving up the corporate ladder—especially when conversing with a hiring manager or leader at a company that has piqued your interest. This subtly-planted seed could lead to a more serious conversation in the future.
Networking events or professional association meetings may take place only weekly or monthly, so LinkedIn is a valuable tool that can bridge the gaps. Carry the connections you make in person to the digital world. It is a convenient way to keep in touch, and it is an effective way to share your resume.
Do not expect your attendance at one or two networking events to land you your ideal position. Nothing happens overnight, but persistent attendance can help you build relationships that will undoubtedly accelerate your career trajectory.
Where should you begin? Here are several well-respected, national networking groups or organizations. I’ve outlined groups in the financial sector that offer networking events, as well as more general ones in the operations and administrative space.
Financial Networking Groups:
- The Financial Executives Networking Group local U.S. chapters
- Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA)
- Association for Financial Professionals (AFP)
- American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
- The Glass Hammer shares 10 professional networks for women in Finance
Operations and Administrative Networking Groups:
- Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)
- APICS Professional Association for Supply Chain & Operations Management
- Leading Administrative Professionals (iaap)
- Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (AEAP)
- American Society of Administrative Professional (ASAP)
Hopefully these networking tips will motivate you to get out there and connect with industry influencers. This is the first step in building valuable relationships with potential employers and hiring managers.