In my position of Business Development Officer at Day Air Credit Union, I have come to realize how important it is to develop a network of people that will help you be successful in your personal and business life. This network may consist of family, friends and business associates and will assist you in good times and in bad.

The following blog was written by Amy Hartman for DaytonLocal.com in her ongoing series on how to survive job loss. Read the original post here.

Early in my job search, my career advisor and I were discussing a new step in my career journey. She was describing to me the excitement of learning about career opportunities by meeting other professionals. I still remember her enlightening summary of this kind of meeting: “This is what people call networking.” That was news to me! I thought networking was something IT professionals did with computers. I was quick to apply this new-found information, most likely to the amusement of those around me.

While my case sounds a bit extreme, networking is often a challenging concept and an overwhelming process. Today’s productive job seeker will agree that networking is the key to your next opportunity… but what exactly is it? And, exactly how do you network?

Here are three definitions of networking that will help you plan and achieve success in your job search.

NETWORKING IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS.

Every conversation we have with others is a form of networking. Every referral we make, from hairdressers to lawyers, is a form of networking. Take a moment to think about the people in your life you met through word of mouth. The same concept applies to the job search! Through research, LinkedIn, informational interviews, and even social events, you will likely meet people who will link you to your next job opportunity. It is important to be prepared with business cards, well dressed, and ready to introduce yourself in every situation, because you never know who you might meet – and where!

NETWORKING IS A WAY FOR YOU TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT OTHERS DO.

Networking can occur anywhere. It can be exciting to learn from the people we meet. As a job seeker, take advantage of your ability to learn about others’ lives and careers. An informational interview is a perfect opportunity to conduct research! Start by making a list of the companies you would like to target. Practice, practice, practice your approach to these companies, success will occur in direct proportion to your level of preparation! Next, use tools such as LinkedIn, make connections through friends and family members, research via library databases and professional organizations (such as education, engineering, and accounting) to gain insight and direction from other professionals. Be sure to maximize your time by utilizing the assistance of those who will help you move ahead in your search. Use this information to expand your network, build your confidence, and ultimately embrace your new job opportunity! Record the names of those you meet, the date on which you initially met, and additional helpful information to remember about your meeting. By all means, follow up the meeting with a handwritten thank-you note.

NETWORKING WILL BE AN EVENT THAT CONNECTS PEOPLE WHO SHARE A COMMON INTEREST.

As a professional, you should take advantage of networking events that relate to your career and even your volunteer work. Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start research on local community organizations and networks that may interest you. Many networking groups are open to those in transition, so consider taking advantage of attending as a guest. Meeting others with whom you share a common interest is enlightening and empowering. Community groups in which you are active can be listed on your resume. Consider joining groups on LinkedIn so you can connect to others who share your interests. Joining LinkedIn groups gives you the opportunity to learn about updated information in your field, as well as employment opportunities.

Are you taking advantage of the many opportunities you have to network with other people? Start building your network today – one person at a time!

Amy Hartman, an instructor and academic coach at Sinclair Community College and Leadership Team volunteer with the Fairhaven Job Seekers group, survived career transition due to the wisdom of friends and family and the guidance of professionals in her life. When she isn’t working with students or facilitating an event, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, writing, or crafting. She enjoys connecting with others over a cup of coffee.

Don Schweitzer | Business Development Officer