First, it is never too late to start. Second, now that you need your network for employment opportunities, you’re going to be tempted to ask everyone you meet if they have or know of a job for you – resist that temptation. The purpose of networking is not to ask for job. Networking can help you find opportunities, the “hidden jobs” that we tell everyone about but asking for a job is something else. In these pandemic times, you have to use virtual networking opportunities, such as LinkedIn or virtual meetings of professional societies or organizations you belong to meet people and make contacts. I recommend that if using LinkedIn, you find something you have in common with the person you ask to join your network: common school of attendance, former employer, employment sector, etc. and include that in your invitation to join your LinkedIn network.
Virtual networking is now easier than ever! If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, create a profile. Develop your profile as much as possible and connect with other professionals, post strategically, write articles, join groups, and comment on posts. This will increase your network and your visibility. Get the most out of your professional affiliations - attend meetings and join a committee, which is a great opportunity to showcase your skills. And don't forget about conferences, most of which are virtual now. Submit abstracts, join a planning committee, and volunteer to organize a symposium. Lastly, create and have business cards ready, including an electronic copy that you can easily share in the chat window during virtual meetings.
Quality trumps quantity. It is never late to network for strong, useful relationships. Here are some tips to get started: 1) Read Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People." 2) Every week, reach out to three people via LinkedIn or e-mail to catch up and update. Ask for tips on what makes them successful. Start building your network with these initial contacts. 3) Figure out who matters most - co-worker, customer, mentor - who can help make valuable connections? Think positive people, not exalted positions. 4) Pick the next tier of contacts and engage them. 5) Determine a contact's desires and concerns. 6) Be intriguing. 7) Give before asking. 8) Be generous and reciprocate every act of kindness.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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