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  • Valerie Wilson

The Power of Networking

In today’s challenging job market, the search for employment is often a lengthy process, demanding considerable time and effort. It's not uncommon for job seekers to spend anywhere from 3 to 6 months, or even longer in certain industries, searching for a position that aligns with their qualifications. While browsing job boards is a common approach, it's often viewed as passive and time-consuming. Instead, the most productive method of securing employment is through networking. While networking may appear more natural for extroverts, introverts can also excel with some dedication. The key to successful networking lies in relationship-building, consistency, and mutual support.

Personally, networking has played a pivotal role in shaping my career, and I'd like to share a couple of anecdotes to illustrate its impact.

Early in my professional journey, a casual dinner with a former high school teacher led to a transformative question: “If you could work in an educational setting, what would you like to do”? This conversation sparked my interest in assisting high school students with college applications and post-graduation plans. Fortunately, my teacher knew of a suitable position and encouraged me to apply. I embraced the opportunity and spent the next 15 years dedicated to career and technical education.

During my graduate studies, I arranged an informational interview with a Career Services Director at a local university to gain insights into their office operations. During our conversation, I learned that one of his direct reports had shifted to part-time hours, and he signaled it as a potential departure.  Six months later, when a career staff position became available, I applied and interviewed with the same director. While I believe I made a positive impression, the endorsement of a colleague from a different department further reinforced my candidacy—a testament to the power of professional relationships forged through networking.

Networking isn't confined to job searches; it's an ongoing endeavor that can uncover opportunities in the hidden job market. By maintaining regular contact with professional connections, you can tap into unadvertised roles that rely on word-of-mouth referrals.

As you embark on your job search journey, consider reaching out to your professional network for support. Whether it's a casual coffee meeting, a phone call, an informational interview, or through LinkedIn, personal connections often lead to unexpected opportunities.

With perseverance, diligence, and a genuine interest in cultivating professional relationships, you can reap the benefits of networking to advance your career.

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