Build and Expand Your Career Network (10 Proven Techniques for Job Seekers)

By Dr. Randall S. Hansen | May 22, 2020
Dr. Randall S. Hansen | ACHNET

Just about every article on job-hunting you'll read says the same thing -- rendering this maxim a virtual jobseeker mantra: "the most effective method for finding a new job is through networking." Listening to job-hunting gurus, career counselors, and career coaches results in the same call to action -- to connect with your network of contacts and enlist their help in uncovering job leads.

The problem for many jobseekers, though, is not so much in understanding the extreme importance of networking, but in the execution of networking. More specifically, jobseekers wonder, where do all these networking contacts come from -- and how can I get people to be part of my network? The key point to remember is that networking is relationship-building. Your network consists of people you've met (either in person or online) -- and you build your network by going out and meeting more people.

Then the question becomes, how do I meet people to add to my network? The thrust of this article is to provide you with 10 proven techniques for building and expanding your career network.

1. Ask members of your current network for referrals

No easier exists way to expand your network than to simply ask your current friends, family, and associates for the contact information of others whom they think would be beneficial for you to know. The "friend-of-a-friend" connection is quite strong and usually very successful. "Who else should I be talking to?" is a good question to use when asking for referrals.

2. Join professional or trade organizations

No better method exists for finding people who share the same professional interests and goals than joining one or more industry organizations. Once you're a member, you'll usually get access to the membership list, which can open up many new prospective network contacts. Most organizations also run regional or national meetings and conferences, which leads to the next technique for building your network of contacts.

3. Attend professional/trade meetings, shows, etc.

The great thing about trade shows and industry meetings and conferences is that you'll encounter new people to meet -- and opportunities for both "meet-and-greets" and in-depth meetings. Seek out peers as well as more experienced members -- and even speakers -- to add to your network.

4. Volunteer

Providing your time and effort to a needy cause is perhaps one of the strongest venues for networking -- because you are working side-by-side with people who share your passion for helping others -- but often overlooked by jobseekers either too busy or too focused on finding industry contacts. Find an organization that needs your help (and there are many) and start volunteering.

5. Attend networking events

This technique is a no-brainer for adding more people to your network of contacts. Various groups hold networking events, including colleges, professional and industry associations, chambers of commerce, and the like. Review community calendars online or in your local newspaper for details.