A strong professional network is becoming increasingly valuable to the job search process so it’s important to consistently make and maintain connections. After all, you never know when a contact might help you towards your career goals.

Make a list

 Make sure to leverage your own social circle. Write down the names of all your friends, family and former colleagues. Be thorough and don’t discount anyone. Then make a point of discussing your career aspirations and skill set with them. One of them might be able to recommend you or put you in touch with one of their own connections. Grandma might be retired but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have friends in high places.

Keep in contact

You never know when a social or professional connection might come in handy. Make sure you always keep in touch with people and don’t burn any bridges.

Get social

These days connections around the world are just a click away. Make use of social networking to engage with potential employers and keep in touch with professional contacts. You can also join professional forums on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to establish yourself as an expert in your field. The next section provides information on how to make the most of your social media profiles.

Get out there

 Not everything is online. There are still those who prefer to do their networking face-to-face. Use your skills to volunteer. Not only will this add extra experience to your CV, it might also put you in touch with useful contacts. Make sure to also attend conferences, professional gatherings and industry events to meet other people in your field.

Be genuine

Networking isn’t just about what others can do for you. Make sure you show an interest in your new and old contacts. Ask about their lives, share ideas and information. They’ll be much more likely to want to help if they feel as though you actually care about them.

Be prepared

If you make a new contact or someone offers to help you with your career aspirations, be ready. Make sure to have a professional business card to hand out and have a consistently up-to-date professional portfolio to send. This includes your references, resume, cover letter and online profiles.

Follow up

When someone offers their assistance, it’s up to you to follow up. Exchange contact information if you haven’t already and get in touch to discuss how to move forward. If the assistance results in a job opportunity, remember to thank your contact. It’s polite and only solidifies your connection.

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