Career Day (Photo credit: Tulane Public Relations)
Guest post by Nisa Chitakasem of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club, and author of 135 Networking Career Tips.
Networking is something most of us can find fiendishly hard, at least some of the time. Not all of us are natural extroverts who find it easy to approach complete strangers and start developing relationships with them almost immediately. However, if done in the right way, networking can have a powerful and positive impact on our career change. Here are just a few ideas for improving our networking skills and using them to make a successful career transition.
Use your existing network. Just because you’re looking for a new career doesn’t necessarily mean you need new contacts. Whilst making new connections can be useful, it’s important not to neglect your existing contacts. Make clear to your network what it is you’re trying to achieve—be it identifying a career to shift to, finding unpaid work in order to test out a certain profession or moving to a new function within your present organisation. Once you’ve explained clearly to people who know you well what you need help with, you might be surprised by the ways in which old connections can help you start a new life. Read through this 135 Networking Career Tips ebook for more help on harnessing your networking skills.
Join a networking group or professional association that has members with similar careers to the one you want. Once you’ve made a connection with a few people and feel comfortable with them, ask them how they got into the industry and what the pros and cons of the career field are. See if they’d be willing to introduce you to people in their own network who could be useful to your career change.
You can also use networking to get some practical work experience within the career areas you’re considering. Ask old and new contacts alike if they know of a relevant organisation it would be appropriate for you to volunteer at. Or perhaps they someone who’s in the field you want to explore and who would be happy for you to work shadow them for a few days. Alternatively, join a club or society that allows you to both network and to try out fun activities related to your target profession.
If you want to change careers without leaving your current organisation, you can use networking as a way into other departments and business areas within the company. Attend company presentations and talk to people who know which areas are being developed within the business. Build up a relationship with one or two key people within the HR department, as they’ll know which areas of the business are looking for employees willing to transfer over.
Make the most of social networking. Online communities such as those found on LinkedIn or Twitter present us with tremendous opportunities to meet new people we may never have come across ‘in real life’. Look at online adverts for the type of role you want and collate the most common words used across those ads. Insert those keywords into your LinkedIn profile and Twitter bio so that you’ll be more visible to networkers, recruiters and employers who are searching those keywords and looking to make a connection with someone just like you. You may find these 125 LinkedIn Job Search Tips and 125 Twitter Job Search Tips eBooks useful reading.
About the Author:
Nisa Chitakasem is the Founder of Position Ignition, the UK’s leading career support company and creators of the Career Ignition Club (www.careerignitionclub.com)
Visit their Career Advice Blog or follow them on Twitter @PosIgnition or Facebook now