(By Kitty Boitnott)
“You never know where people will wind up, and it is just possible that a former classmate is now working for a company about which you might be interested in learning more. In addition to reunions and local chapter meetings of alumni, LinkedIn provides a great way for you to find and locate alumni online.“
Nothing replaces face-to-face networking, and for those who are job hunting, networking is every candidate’s lifeline. Networking is also important, however, for those who are working. Since “every job is temporary,” it is incumbent upon even the most happily employed to remember to optimize their network and keep in touch, both in person and through social media.
Here are five ways to network outside of the office, even when you are working.
1. Attend professional conferences and conventions.
Professional conferences are places where you can learn and upgrade the level of education and skill needed for professional development. In addition, however, you can meet many other people who are in your industry. You never know when these contacts might come in handy.
2. Join local networking groups.
Just about every professional group has a local chapter or a local organization that provides an opportunity to network with individuals who share your particular area of expertise. Get to know them by attending meetings. I attend a couple of these types of meetings a month and see people with whom I share a common bond. We can commiserate with one another as well as celebrate one another’s successes.
3. Get social and check out Meetup.com.
If you haven’t yet checked out Meetup.com, you should. This platform offers a group for everyone. There is a group for every type of interest whether, it is wine tasting or bicycling. If you can’t find a Meetup that meets your needs, you can organize one of your own! It is a great way to get to know people who share a passion or an interest off the job—or job-related—and you never know whom you might meet.
4. Stay in touch with alumni.
Attend class reunions. Your alumni association may be an overlooked opportunity for you to stay connected, but it is one you should use. You never know where people will wind up, and it is just possible that a former classmate is now working for a company about which you might be interested in learning more. In addition to reunions and local chapter meetings of alumni, LinkedIn provides a great way for you to find and locate alumni online. It is up to you to add the personal invitation to connect and then to follow up so that you can catch up in person.
5. Become a conference presenter!
In keeping with the importance of attending conferences and conventions, you can get your name “out there” and become known as an “expert” in your field if you volunteer to present on a topic with which you are particularly interested and one about which you can share insights or information. Volunteer to present at a conference. Offer to write an article for a professional journal or newsletter. People will start to view you as an “expert” in your field, and they will seek you out, thus helping you build your professional network.
Never overlook the importance of being well connected in your professional community. It is your responsibility, and failing to do so is a failure of appreciating the importance of being connected with those whom you might help in the future as well as with those who might offer you an opportunity some day.