Ch. 1: What is Networking?
What is networking? Simply put, it's interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career. People build and maintain professional networks to land jobs they desire and to keep career doors open for opportunities in the future. Many networks are built of people of similar esteem and job level (but don't be afraid to add high-level figures to your network).
Many opportunities are exposed by similarly positioned contacts because they are more likely to correspond with you and share findings. It's important to build a network of acquaintances (weak ties) rather than good friends and family (strong ties). Weak ties can provide insight into a world you don't regularly visit and show you opportunities you couldn't hear about from family and friends.
Networking is crucial to the job search. Most jobs aren't obtained through cold-contact and a person has a better chance of getting the job if there is a connection or an introduction from someone who works for the company or by someone who knows someone at a desired company.
What is the Purpose of Networking?
The main purpose of networking is to find someone who can help you get a job you want. It sounds shallow and a bit like manipulation, but it doesn't have to be. Building professional contacts is great and as long as you give as much as you take, then there is a relationship.
Don't just take what the other person offers without reciprocating something. Send articles and job postings you think the other person would appreciate and share things from your life to build a type of friendship.
Networking is ultimately about person-to-person connection and making friends outside of your circle, so be friendly and helpful. If you are genuine in your networking and help others, they will be more likely to help you.
The ultimate goal is to land a job, but it never hurts to make friends in the process. Take the opportunity to be a positive influence in another person's life while trying to better your own.
Why Should I Network?
You should network to increase your chances of getting a job you actually want. You can get about any low-level job you apply to on job boards and advertisements, but to get a fulfilling job you will enjoy, you more than likely need to have an "in". Since there is so much competition in today's job-marketplace, the more help you can get, the better.
That's why it's important to meet people from companies you want to work at and get to know them. If you build a good enough rapport with people they can help you land jobs, or let you in on opportunities you didn't know existed.
Basically, you should network so you can get a job you actually want. You need as many opportunities as you can take with the economy as it is, so meeting as many people with multiple doors to open is a great step up in getting a job you won't quit in a month.
Building a network of connected people is key to land a job today. Meet as many people as you can and reciprocate help and opportunities. Be a positive influence and a good person and most people will be more inclined to help you find a job---or give you a job.
Focus on meeting people outside the circle of people you usually hangout with, as they can lead to new and better prospects.
Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help or just send articles and tid-bits you find interesting or insightful. Build a great network and maintain it to give yourself all the keys you need to get ahead in the job-game.