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What Is Career Networking?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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You may be looking for your first job or a way to advance your career. Alternately, you may have lost a job and need to find a new one. While job boards and classified ads might give you a few places to start, many experts in the business world suggest that career networking is one of the most effective ways to find and obtain a job. Many companies don’t advertise extensively for work; perhaps as many as half of all companies don’t advertise at all when a job becomes available. For someone looking for work, this means a resume submitted to these companies, especially if it comes with a recommendation from an employee is likely to get noticed.

Career networking is in essence making use of the people you know to develop your career. It can be used for finding jobs and increasing your business. It requires a light touch, not a hard sell, and a willingness to work your own network for the benefit of others. It has to be developed with a sense of reciprocity so a person doesn’t feel used or only valued because they might be able to do you a favor.

Whether you’re looking for your first or fifth job, career networking begins with the people closest to you: friends, family, past employers and colleagues, and even educators. In high school, students might use career networking to solicit recommendations from teachers for admission to colleges or for job applications.

Students can ask family members who work in certain fields to recommend them for work, or they could obtain their first job from a friend’s mom, a teacher’s wife or husband, or the principal’s uncle. Each person you know is like a starting point in a circle of all the people they know. Thus your ability to use career networking with one person puts you in touch with all the people that person knows.

Many don’t know how to begin career networking, and don’t realize how easy and effective it can be. First, start calling people you think might have an effect on your career. In most cases, you are not calling to ask them for a job, but to communicate your interest in finding work, and to ask if they know of anything. As your network expands, when you call or meet with someone, you’ll want to express your gratitude to these people through short notes, when it seems appropriate, and through reciprocal networking. Perhaps a contact needs your help, or you can assist that person by recommending his/her business to people you know.

It can greatly assist you to begin networking on a larger scale, by joining a trade organization that is specific to your work, or being an active volunteer in organizations that put you in touch with lots of different people. Networking can occur just as easily at a PTA meeting as it does at a trade luncheon. Keep records of your contacts, and be willing to return the favor when you can, since you never know when you might need to use career networking again to advance your career. Don’t stop networking once you’ve found a job; continuing to form great business relationships with people you meet along the way may come in handy later.

Don’t feel squeamish about asking people if they know of available jobs where they work. Many companies offer financial incentives to people who bring in new employees. If you get hired, you might just be conferring a cash bonus to the person who recommended you; so there are certainly people anxious to help you. You can take advantage of these bonuses yourself by getting friends, family or other contacts hired at your company.

Career networking has become easier with the number of business related groups on the Internet. Establishing an Internet presence by participating in these groups can further your career. Do be wary though when you initially join a group about immediately asking for work. Take several months to establish yourself, express your interest in what others are doing, and to verify that people belonging to these groups are truthfully representing themselves.

While career networking is undoubtedly a powerful tool, an often underutilized resource in the quest for job satisfaction is a career test for adults. This strategic tool can provide valuable insight, identifying careers that align with your unique skills and interests. Whether you're embarking on your first job hunt or seeking a major career change, the results of this test could offer a fresh perspective, guiding your networking efforts in a direction most suited to your professional aspirations. Consider a career test for adults as an initial step in your job search; it's like a compass pointing towards your future success.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon993022 — On Oct 18, 2015

I found this article very helpful to me. I've been out of work for a few years now. I been putting off looking for work because of not getting the job. Now I have some hints on how to apply and what to say and do after the interview.

By anon992937 — On Oct 12, 2015

I really like this article. It gives a lot of information in regards to the right way to look for a job.I'm going to take the advice and try to volunteer.

By anon990003 — On Mar 31, 2015

I really like this article. It gave really valuable information. I'm always the type of person who's afraid to ask people for leads or job help or if they can get me in their job because of pride. Reading this article just broke down a few prideful walls time to get to networking!

By anon163132 — On Mar 26, 2011

This article is great it gives a lot of information in regards to the right way to look for a job.

By anon147068 — On Jan 28, 2011

This article was great. I think I'm going to take the advice and try to volunteer in the field i am pursuing, and maybe i can use the employees as a networking tool.

By oasis11 — On Oct 25, 2010

Icecream17- These corporate networking sites also help you continue to network because going to meetings when you have a family with small children is not always easy, but you can always squeeze in about thirty minutes a day in order to do some online networking and learn more about your field.

Also, if you do not have a job, you can also network with local charities and help them out. You can meet people for all different fields that are also drawn to the charity because they want to help. You would already have a point in common and you might meet your next boss there as well.

By icecream17 — On Oct 25, 2010

SauteePan- There are also career networking sites online like Linken. Here you can connect with previous coworkers and supervisors through a corporate networking site.

There are professional conferences that take place online in which people talk about topics pertaining to their industry. For example, in the compliance group there is a current discussion about what are the best ways to use Linken by a subscriber that is currently looking for a CFO in New York City.

This site offers a wealth of information and hiring leads for anyone looking for work. This is a great networking for career success site.

By SauteePan — On Oct 25, 2010

Cupcake15- Joining and participating in an industry career networking group will not only allow you to stay abreast on the things that are happening in your field, but you also get to know people who might have a job opening or know of a potential opportunity in the future.

Anyone seeking an IT career might want to attend user groups pertaining to the software that they currently work with. These professional organizations are a great way to meet people and network.

For those interested in training and development there are chapters all over the country for ASTD, which is the American Society for Training and Development.

Being a part of a networking group also tells a potential employer that you are serious about your work and looking for ways to enhance your productivity.

By cupcake15 — On Oct 25, 2010

Anon90756-Networking for job search and career success is important because most of the best jobs go unadvertised.

Often companies will seek referrals from their current employee base and many offer substantial referral bonuses for successful hires.

I once worked for a company that offered us $500 for every referral that was hired. Companies like to run referral bonuses because they already know the type of work that their employees do so it is only natural that they would want to continue the success with a referral bonus.

This also saves the company money because they do not have to advertise the position and only have to follow up with resumes that are suitable.

They also tend to get better quality candidates then those that come in from ads. This saves the managers a lot of time in screenings.

By anon90756 — On Jun 17, 2010

this article gives great tips on starting you on the right path to a great job lead.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a SmartCapitalMind contributor, Tricia...
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