Your alarm clock goes off and you roll out of bed. You immediately dread the hour-long commute to a job that pays peanuts, with a boss who doesn’t respect you, in an environment that doesn’t inspire you. Sound familiar?
It’s often not practical to up and quit your job, especially if you have student loans. And jobs don’t appear out of thin air. So if you want out of your job and are looking to make more money, here are three networking tips you can use to find a better opportunity.
How to Get a Better Job Through Networking
1. Keep Learning
You’ve graduated college and have the student loans to prove it. But that doesn’t mean your education should end. Continuing education and learning new skills in your industry can be powerful networking tools.
Attend industry conferences. Most industries have professional conferences with speakers and sessions on various, relevant topics. Not only can you continue learning, you can also connect with people in your field.
I’ve been able to secure gigs from people I’ve met at conferences in the past, earning more than the cost of the conference so I came out with a profit. In addition, I was able to learn tips and best practices, as well as make new friends. Conferences are a great way to immediately connect with your peers and hiring managers.
Take classes. Even though you’re out of school, you can always learn more and improve your skills. When you look at your set of skills, what could you improve?
Think about a time you looked at a job description and felt anxiety about a certain skill you didn’t have. Take a class in something that you know will complement your current skill set. You can also meet like-minded people in your desired niche through classes and enhance your resume.
To get the most out of networking, consider taking a class at the local community college, park, or community organization.
2. Get Social
Let’s face it — we live in the social age. Prospective employers are vetting you before you step foot in their offices for an interview. Hiring managers are scouring the internet to see what comes up about you and looking through social media profiles to find any red flags.
While it might seem unfair, this is the world we live in. One way to take control is to brand yourself through social media in your prospective niche through the following methods:
Buy a domain name with your name. When a hiring manager is Googling you, they’ll use your full name. Instead of wondering if that awkward photo from college comes up, control what’s out there through your own website.
Think of it as digital real estate. You can showcase your accomplishments and a little bit about yourself. Having your own website can help you have some control of how others perceive you online. In addition, it can help establish authority in your niche.
Use Twitter. Twitter is no longer a place for 140-character jokes; it’s a haven for professionals in various industries. Follow influencers in your niche and share relevant content regarding your industry.
A common mistake people make when using Twitter is simply broadcasting all that they do, without sharing what others have posted or engaging with the community. Don’t forget the social part of social media. Connect with others and form genuine relationships. You never know where a connection will lead, so plant the seed of connection and see where it goes. Just remember, use hashtags wisely.
Join Facebook groups. You can use Facebook for more than keeping up with friends from high school or looking at cats and babies. Join Facebook groups related to your profession, skills, and interests. Simply go to the search bar and type in keywords. I’m part of several groups for freelancers and it’s been immensely helpful to my career.
3. Follow Up
This is probably one of the most important tips for networking. It’s absolutely crucial that you follow up with people you meet, whether at a conference, in class, in the line at Starbucks, or on a plane.
You never know where a connection will lead or where your next opportunity will come from. The worst thing that could happen is you never hear back from someone. The best thing? It could lead to a potentially lucrative opportunity now or down the line.
Follow ups should be short and sweet. Try to use the five sentence rule and write something unique about your interaction with that person. Here’s a sample email I’ve sent to people:
It was so great meeting you at [conference/class/etc/]. I enjoyed chatting with you about [details of the conversation].
I’m interested in learning more about what you do to see if there are ways we can collaborate. I look forward to hearing from you!
It’s amazing to me how many people do not follow up with people they meet. If you took the time to take a business card or talk with someone, take your relationship to the next level and follow up. Relationships are not built overnight; it’s a gradual process, but you have to take the next step.
Get Started With These Networking Tips Now
Using these networking tips, you can surround yourself with others in your industry and make your way to a higher paying, better job. In today’s world, it’s not enough to simply have a degree and experience.
In order to get opportunities that are never published, or to get your foot in the door, you need to know someone. In order to know the right people, you need to foster your connections and network with others.
Networking often has a bad association with it — like awful speed dating. Instead of thinking of it that way, imagine how you can genuinely connect with others and be helpful. Building an organic network can help you get out of a job you hate and into one you love.
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