By Beverly F. Johnson, Career and Industry Specialist, ASU Career and Professional Development Services
Networking is a powerful career development strategy that can be done from anywhere at any time, and it’s more important than ever! Leveraging online networking platforms makes finding information and opportunities as easy as scrolling through your feed while you sip your morning coffee. Career fairs, employer panels, and info sessions are often offered via virtual platforms making it easy to participate even if you’re short on time or unable to travel. Keep your eye on Handshake for upcoming networking opportunities.
The importance of networking shows in these results from nearly 15,000 LinkedIn users:
80% of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success.
35% of surveyed professionals say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn Messaging has led to a new opportunity.
61% of professionals agree that regular online interaction with their professional network can lead the way into possible job opportunities.
At every step of the career and professional development process, virtual networking has the potential to help move you forward. Building a strong professional network increases your chances of finding opportunities. Online networking platforms such as ASU Mentor Network and LinkedIn offer engaging virtual spaces that you can tailor to your professional interests. To start, make your profile as complete as possible and start adding contacts. Then, by following organizations, professional associations, and hashtags, your feed will become a valuable source of job openings, career events, articles, and resources.
Once you find that exciting new opportunity, the contacts in your professional network could move your name to the top of the list. In a world where online application systems rule, hiring managers can easily be overwhelmed by stacks of resumes submitted by candidates with similar qualifications. A good word from someone will set you apart from other applicants, which goes a long way in our current virtual recruitment environment.
Even if your contact isn’t in a position to put in a good word for you, they can still be helpful! If you aren’t able to visit an organization in person, your contacts can provide insider information about the culture and values which is invaluable while preparing your application. Contacts may also be able to provide tips on the application and interview processes. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances of making it through the recruitment process and into the career you’re looking for.
If you’re still unsure of what that dream job looks like, you can utilize your network to do some career exploration. Research what your connections are doing, and reach out to them to request a quick informational interview via phone or video conference. Getting information about job responsibilities, company culture, and what a daily schedule looks like can help you narrow down your interests.
Online platforms and virtual events make networking easy to incorporate into your professional development plan. Once you’ve established your professional network online, it’s important to check on your connections through routine contacts. Be sure to check your messages regularly. You don’t want to miss that opportunity when it knocks!