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How To Network Smarter Throughout Your Career

By Pam Webster

While most people think that networking is just about getting a job, there is really a lot more. Each one of us networks every day whether we realize it or not. Networking is about establishing relationships that provide valuable feedback and help us make educated decisions.

Take for instance if you wanted to find a good Mexican restaurant. Would you search the phone book and head to the closest one or would you ask your friends for a recommendation? Taking the recommendation of your friends is considered networking.

While networking applies to our normal day-to-day activities, it also pertains to big businesses. In many cases, larger companies may not advertise their job opportunities but prefer to hire by word of mouth or through networking with their own employees because they trust and rely on the opinions of their colleagues.

No matter whether you are in college and just starting your professional career or a seasoned professional looking to change careers or industries it is important to be thinking about career networking and your future career aspirations. As Corporate Recruiting Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, I know firsthand the importance of establishing relationships. Career networking allows you to gain information, increase your visibility and acquire insight about what employers are looking for in their employees today.

Developing a strong network requires making connections that will sustain more than a simple introduction it requires effort and time on your behalf. Taking an active role in career networking will allow you to meet and converse with professionals from all lines of business and help you get ahead.

Get your resume ready and practice for the face-to-face. Make sure to have your resume in excellent condition prior to attending any career networking events. A resume with mistakes and misspelled words could limit your opportunity to interview with a company. Mistakes on a resume tell an employer that you were not prepared or did not take the time to get it right, which is a reflection of you as a potential employee.

Once you have your resume in place, take time to conduct a few mock interviews. Career counseling departments at universities or local employment centers will usually offer mock interview sessions. By practicing your interviewing skills you will be well prepared for when you come face-to-face with potential future employers. You will also get the chance to develop a relationship with your counselor who can provide you with valuable information and resources as your search deepens.

Never stop networking. Take the opportunity to meet with individuals even if you are unsure about the position or the company. After talking about your skills and experience they may be able to inform you about alternate positions that would better match your qualifications. Meeting business professionals will never do you any harm, and you never know what might come from your interactions.

Start early and be prepared for your networking efforts. It’s up to you to make the most out of every networking opportunity. The more relationships you come out with in the end, the better off you will be, whether you develop relationships that lead to a career opportunity, or a potential future customer or client. Expanding your network will help you as you start your professional career, when you need an introduction or advice on changing careers.

About the author:

Pam Webster is the Corporate Recruiting Manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.