Building your brand…or networking

Networking is about building relationships and connections in a purposeful, organized way. Learning how to build and create connections requires time and effort and it is important to your career development and success.

Through networking you can learn about career opportunities, specific organizations, industries and fields. Professionals already working in the fields that interest you can offer specific inside views that can’t be duplicated. They can also connect you to individuals in their network who can provide additional assistance.

  • Incorporate networking into your life
    • Have a goal – Career networking without a plan is just socializing. Some examples of purpose-driven goals in career networking are: to find a key contact at a target company, to secure an informational interview with an influencer in your industry, and to get your resume into the system of a key recruiter in the area.
    • Never eat alone – Use mealtimes as a time to establish relationships.
    • Pinging! – Dedicate 30 minutes/week to checking-in with your network.
    • Volunteer – At your local library, museum, etc. Aim to learn specific skills.
    • Be a value provider – Think of providing value to others through your expertise, skills and education (e.g. share like links, web sites, and articles or connect them with someone they might find valuable).
  • Network at events
    • Ask questions – Create a list of event related open-ended questions.
    • Quality over quantity – Aim to really connect with 3 people.
    • Take notes – Make notes on the back of business cards to remember key things about the people you’re meeting.
  • Networking mistakes to avoid
    • Networking at the last minute – Don’t put off networking until you’re searching for a job. Relationships aren’t built over one encounter.
    • Keeping score – Don’t focus only on what someone has done for you.
    • Not having business cards – Business cards are a professional way to exchange contact information with another individual.
    • Not following up – It’s easy to fall off a person’s radar after the initial meeting. Touch base shortly after your encounter.
    • Generic communications – Personalize all your correspondence.

Marketing your brand

  • Business cards – Use free web services, print them at home or create handmade ones. Design a card or several with different emphasis (e.g. one with a school library bent, one with a special libraries focus, etc.). A neat idea: list your projects, volunteerships, interests or areas of expertise on the back of the card. Be sure to leave blank space for people to make notes.
  • Update your resume –  If your interests are many, be sure to keep different versions tailoring skills and experience to specific positions.
  • Say what? – Have answers and questions at the ready not only for interviews but also networking.
  • Update all your online profiles – It’s an easy way of updating all your contacts on newly acquired skills and experience. Use taglines to let them know that you are actively looking for work.
  • Update all your directory profiles – Make it easy for people to find you.
  • Use online network LinkedIn to market your brand:
    • Ask connections for recommendations
    • Ask connections for introductions
    • Regularly run targeted job searches
    • Use profiles to gain insight before an interview
    • Join groups (e.g. ALA’s LISJObs) and contribute a comment, question or post at least twice a month
  • Use to find local common interest groups – Joining a local reading club or unemployed librarians group might lead to new opportunities, help you cope with your own work search, or give you ideas on how to boost your career.

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