Ask a successful business manager or a career-savvy person about their biggest secrets to making a career, so you can be sure that the subtle art of networking is among the top three on their list.

Everyone who wants to get somewhere in the business world needs to spend time widening their contact network for advice, exploring new job opportunities, getting references, gathering new prospective business opportunities and generally keeping abreast of what’s happening in their field of work.

Effective networking, in person or online through social networking, will be under constant development and will contribute to your arsenal of career, from your first steps out into the job market until retirement and beyond.

Your ability to explore the job market for non-advertised jobs can give you a real advantage over other suitable candidates, and generally speaking, networking can help you generate invaluable advice or even lifelong friendships.

For some it seems natural to build networks on a person-to-person basis, but for others it is an area where they may need to improve their skills a bit.

Here are some important networking tips:

  • Never be afraid to call or meet potential contacts recommended to you – people generally like to talk and give advice
  • Ask family, friends, students and classmates, lecturers and colleagues for names of people to contact.
  • Use your contact names well when following up on potential contacts
    Send invitations where you present yourself as the solution to a problem
  • Posting, internship / shadowing and committee work increase your market value
  • Grow external customers that you can benefit from at a later date
    Participating in social networks online is a proven way to make new contacts and stay in touch with the world that is important to you.
  • When so many people use (among other things) Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to promote their careers, you can’t afford to ignore the power of networking online. Here are some important tips on how to increase your networking efforts online:
  • Build your resume online to market your skills and experiences
    Include keywords that are relevant to your profession and industry in your profile and resume
  • Obtain service ratings and letters of recommendation – an effective confirmation of your abilities
  • Add a professional photo to your profile
  • Contribute articles, advice and opinions in relevant forums to increase your visibility
  • Do not post anything online that could undermine your credibility

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