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Networking
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Your network is the way you build influence. It's your source for what is happening in your organization, your industry, and your profession. Networks provide opportunities and information through relationships.

Based on give and take, networks depend on the attention and nurturing you provide. You ask people for advice, contacts, and information; in turn, you offer help. You form relationships and friendships. Networking is a dynamic ongoing process that should be part of your everyday life. Treat every meeting or encounter as a potential networking opportunity. Remember, you are looking to build relationships and friendships, not just get contacts and favors. Treat members of your network with respect and consideration. And keep in mind that you are useful to other people's networks as well. Most jobs are not advertised; usually they are filled by people who have networked their way into contact with the employer.

Keep careful, up-to-date records of your network and the information you get from your network.

Personal associations offer great opportunities to network with people in your field. There are even formal networking groups and online listservs that you can join.

A network is not only important for your career advancement. It is also a good determinant of your progress towards achieving your goals.

Building Influence:

Building influence and networks is about being known in your community. You gain influence and opportunity when people perceive that you have knowledge, skills, and relationships. Building influence is a life long pursuit.

Communicating your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and questions is important to building influence. Teach others what you know. Ask about what you don't know. Ask a professor about a research topic about which you've been thinking. Consider it your job to participate in the mainstream flow of information.

As you continue to build influence, your strategies for information communication will change. Determine the methods that work best for you.

Mentoring:

Mentoring is an extremely valuable tool for defining your goals, building a career, and solidfying your place in your community.

Some employers, organizations, and schools have formal mentoring programs. These programs are invaluable when available. A unique give and take relationship exists between a mentor and his/her pupil. This relationship benefits both parties. For the mentor, this relationship is an opportunity to give something back to the profession or industry.

Make it your business to cultivate potential mentorships; you never know who will step into the role when you need a mentor. Most young professionals do not have mentors in the first year of their careers. During this time, they are learning about their companies and becoming comfortable with their jobs. However, this time is vital for the development of future mentorships. Seasoned employees often have little time to mentor. They choose to mentor only those people who they view as promising. Therefore, the first impressions you give these people is often the most important.

Seven Networking Tips:

  1. Maintain a card file on your contacts
  2. Be organized with your job search, interviews, and appointments
  3. Request to be put on mailing lists associated with your industry
  4. Attend local lectures and presentations
  5. Volunteer for committees
  6. Always carry a business card or resume
  7. Follow up on all leads
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