For many international students nearing the end of their studies, there comes a time to find employment. The process of finding a job can be a bit challenging but creating opportunities through professional networks can really help.
Professional networking is so important, in fact, that more than 80% of all professionals say that their own professional networks helped them achieve success. How is that possible? Less than 30% of all job vacancies are actually published for job seekers to find.
Keep reading to learn how professional networking can help you land that dream job.
Be a Part of Your Professional Network
Before getting into what a professional network is, how to build one, and how you can benefit from building one, it is a good idea to consider the ‘why’.
Professional networks are created by groups of like-minded people. They are comprised of like-minding people interested in finding opportunities, strengthening their careers, and building a sense of professional security.
Given the obvious benefits that come from networking, it may seem like everyone is there to take all that they can from their network.
However, there is another side to the coin. Networks are built through human interaction and relationships. That means, for a professional network to be successful, its members should focus as much on giving as they do on taking.
Essentially, each member of the network should provide some value to the rest of the network. When a person is successful in offering value, the network will also work for them.
Getting Started With Your Professional Network
Getting started with your professional network can be as simple as taking a register of all the people that you know. Fellow classmates, professors, friends, family, and anyone else you have met along the way can be added to your list.
Consider how each of the people on your list relates to your professional goals. Sometimes the connection is clear, other times it is not. Even if you cannot see a direct link between a person on your list and your aims, it is good not to disregard people from your list too soon. It is common for opportunities to come from unexpected places.
The next step is to make a list of professional networking events that are related to your career goals. Whether you are looking for virtual networking events or meetings to attend in person, knowing which events are available to you can prove very useful.
Types of Professional Networking
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, there are three main categories that professional networking falls into. Networking can be operational, personal, and strategic. It is essential to understand the various aspects of professional networking so that you can create a network that meets your range of goals.
Operational networking describes connections that are made within classrooms, workplaces, clubs, and peer groups. These networks work to support current tasks and goals for all members of the network.
Personal networking describes connections made that enrich a person’s development. These are the types of connections that can often provide surprise opportunities. They are the members of your network who provide value but that value may not be directly related to current work or plans.
Strategic networking takes place when connections are made for the advancement of future goals. People in these groups are the ones who will serve a future purpose and may not help with anything at the moment.
Attending Professional Networking Events
Attending professional networking events can be one of the best ways to bring new people and ideas into your circle. From the new connections that you create, there are often doors that begin to open.
The professional networking events that you attend can focus on any kind of networking that suits your needs. Building personal and strategic connections is a common goal for many people attending networking events.
Find the Right Professional Networks
There are many ways to attend professional networking events and it is possible to build a network online without a specific event.
Virtual networking events often take place on networking websites, like Facebook and LinkedIn. These allow for specific groups of people to ‘mingle’ online and share ideas.
Universities often host job fairs and networking events, both in person and online.
In addition, many alumni groups and student associations hold events that help with network building.
No matter what your present and future goals happen to be, regularly attending the right mix of networking events will help you find success.
What Happens After Professional Networking Events?
Once you have completed a networking event, there are some important steps to take. Steps that will help you make the most of the connections that you made.
Review – The first step is to review the people and information that you gained from the event. Organize the contact information that you collected and write down how each of the people on your list can help you achieve your goals.
It is also crucial to make a note of what you can offer to each of the new people on your contact list. Remember the give and take? You will find that your network will serve you much better when you are cognizant of the needs of its members.
Follow Up – After recording all of the necessary information and taking any notes that you deem important to the process, it is time to make contact with your new network one more time.
How you follow up will largely depend on the situation at hand. Emails and social media messages are popular choices. With your chosen method, send a message to each new person on your list. Remind them that you appreciate meeting them. This is also a good time to bring up any value you can add to their lives. They will see how maintaining a relationship with you will be worth their time.
What are professional networks?
Professional networks are groups of people connected by a common interest, such as a specific industry or profession. Taking part in professional networks with other like-minded people creates new opportunities for employment. A well-networked professional may also have access to more resources as a result of the connections they share with others.
What are some professional network examples?
Professional networks can take on many forms. They provide opportunities for personal growth, professional growth, and future prospects. Some examples include international student groups with similar career goals, clubs for alumni, employee associations, etc.
What is not an example of professional networking?
Most professionals would not consider collecting contact information for professionals in your field to be networking. Unless, of course, you do it in a mutually communicative way. Preferably, you should collect contact information in person or at a virtual networking event. Other examples include attending webinars and going to job interviews.