Career Development: Article Library

Career Development: An Overview

For many people, networking sounds like an introvert's nightmare, conjuring images of exchanging business cards at a cocktail party, a boring effort at bragging, or begging for help from people you barely know. However, according to most experts, networking should not be perceived so negatively, nor should it be a self-centered effort in finding a new job. Rather, networking is building relationships on the basis of trust that involves a give and take. Lynne Waymon, co-author of the book "Make Your Contacts Count" says, "It's about teaching and giving. Teaching people who you are... and what kind of opportunities to send your way. And it is about giving – listening so generously that you can also help people accomplish their goals."

Most people wait to build their network after a crisis hits them, but effective networking should be continuous, and should not stop once you are on your job. Not only can networking help you find a job, but it can also help you grow in your career, whether within your current organization or outside your workplace.

According to human resources executives, networking is one of the most effective job-search methods. While it is possible to get entry level positions by going through the normal application process, when it comes to landing senior level positions, having an inside contact will make all the difference. So how do you start? The Washington Post offers the following Dos and Don'ts in networking.

Dos

  • Know your goal and have a strategy
  • Be confident; find a role model or a mentor you can emulate
  • Say thank you often and smile
  • Brag about your skills
  • Make a good first impression
  • Follow up with a new contact as soon as you can
  • Send a Christmas or holiday card to re-establish contacts
  • Learn to listen attentively
  • Gain trust and learn to trust, in order to build friendships

Don'ts

  • Don't wait until a crisis hits; network now
  • Don't be a wallflower - make an effort to socialize with co-workers at events
  • Don't ask for a job, ask for advice first
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions
  • Don't shy away from exploring online networking groups like Ryze or LinkedIn
  • Don't join tons of networking organizations; two or three may be enough
  • Don't put things on Facebook you wouldn't want a new boss to see

Here are some more ideas to get you started:

Volunteer

Whether you are employed or unemployed, volunteer your time in order to expand your network of contacts. Join a sports team, committee, or club that interests you. If you are unemployed, volunteer in the field that you would like to find a job. Also, don't underestimate the reach of online social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or of networks from your hobby or personal interest. You never know who you might meet at church, temple or even on the soccer field.

Follow-up

After meeting someone at a networking event or volunteer job, take note of their name and the conversation you had with them, and then follow up promptly. Send an email, and if appropriate, follow up with a note in the mail. The extra effort shows that you value the person, and can go a long way in making you stand out.

Professional Development

Take advantage of professional development opportunities available to you. AACRAO offers many ways for higher education administrators to further their career. Whether it's joining a committee, taking an online course or watching a Webinar, staying on the cutting edge of your profession will make you more marketable to employers. You may even consider whether you would benefit from enrolling in a formal further education program.