Networking for your Career
Networking is the process of interacting with others to develop reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationships and connections that will help you to achieve your goals.
Networking is also an ongoing process. If done right, good networking allows you to establish long-term, meaningful relationships that will contribute to the quality of your work and enrich your career and professional life over the long-term.
Remember: While networking is a valuable career tool, at the end of the day, it is the quality of your work and performance that will lead to success in your career.
Developing a strong professional network better positions you to:
- Hear about job opportunities that interest you
- Collaborate and exchange ideas and best practices with your professional peers
- Tap into advice, resources and expertise that you may otherwise not have access to
- Get visibility for your work and/or the work of your organization
- Know where to go when in need of advice or assistance
- Join partnerships and projects that interest you
WHO IS IN YOUR NETWORK?
Network Your Way to Success
For many people the idea of approaching a stranger can be intimidating, if not slightly terrifying! The best way to improve your networking skills is to learn by doing. You will improve over time. Here are some tips to get you started:
Join online groups or professional associations: There are online groups on just about every topic imaginable these days. LinkedIn has become a valuable source of career networking and advice. For more information on using LinkedIn for networking, visit our section on Using LinkedIn as a Networking Tool.
If it doesn’t exist, start your own network! If you can’t find the group you are looking for, start your own network by creating a LinkedIn Group, Facebook Group, or Google Plus community where you can invite like-minded individuals who share similar goals and career aspirations as you.
Do your homework: If you are attending a networking event, take the time to look up the details. If there is someone specific you’d like to connect with, do your research. What can you learn about this person's work, position and interests? Having this information beforehand will show that you are interested and help to make your conversation more comfortable. It also helps to note what kind of setting your meeting is in and that you are dressed appropriately. Some networking events are suit and tie affairs, whilst others can be more casual.
Practice active listening: Mastering the ability to listen to people is an essential networking skill. People are often most at ease when talking about their own experiences. Showing your interest, curiousity and asking open-ended questions can lead to richer conversations and show others that you appreciate the information they have to share.
Practice your "pitch": Think of your pitch as a 30 second infomercial that tells people about who you are, what work you do, what your interests are and what you bring to the table. Practice a few key phrases that you can share about yourself when you first meet people. At the same time, avoid memorizing this word for word as you do not want to sound over-rehearsed and unnatural!
Monitor and manage your online presence: Many employers today screen prospective employees through their online profiles. As silly as it sounds, it does not hurt to Google yourself every once in a while. If you use Facebook and other sites for personal purposes, make sure that you remove questionable material. Finally, keep in mind that as UN employees you are also obligated to follow an ethical code of conduct when engaging in online activities outside of your organization. Ask for permission when in doubt.