Getting a job today requires consistent, effective networking.

When searching for a job, you may have heard the following statement: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” The second part of that statement is especially true.

Of course, you do need a solid set of skills to successfully perform a specific role, so “what you know” is always an important factor in getting hired. What remains true is that “who you know” can be the dynamic that gets you in the door — all other things being equal.

For example, getting a recommendation or even a mention from someone who already works at a company where you want to work is often the deciding factor that makes you the choice over another, equally-qualified candidate.

So, how do you get that “who you know” factor in your corner? Networking.

Whether you like meeting people face to face or prefer to connect electronically, there are a variety of networking tips and tricks that will help make your job search successful. Here are seven successful networking tips that could make all the difference.

1. Identify what networking style works best for you

This networking tip is first because it truly is the key to success. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to networking,” says TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine. “Different people are successful using different networking tactics.”

Introverts do not connect with people the same way extroverts do, so they shouldn’t try to match an extrovert’s networking style. It’s important to be comfortable and confident in how you reach out to others so you always put that best foot forward.

This short quiz from TopResume can reveal what networking style best fits your personality, which could make the difference in your overall success.

2. Know the “rules” of professional networking

Recently, a TopResume contributor shared the two sacred rules everyone must follow when networking:

  1. Never openly ask for an interview. Instead, ask questions to find whether the company, its culture, and its employees are a fit for you. Let people know you want to learn from their experience in your field.

  2. Never ask for a job. As you talk with both old and new connections, simply let them know you’re in the market for a certain role and would appreciate if they let you know about any potential opportunities.

3. Use social media effectively

Today’s variety of social media platforms have something to offer every type of job seeker. Here are some ways to effectively network on two of the best social sites, LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • LinkedIn: “LinkedIn should always be your starting point, no matter what part of the job search you’re wrapped up in,” says Anthony Gaenzle, another writer for TopResume. You can search by various factors including company or job title, and then reach out to professionals at those companies to connect with them. “Don’t send a resume until you’re asked,” states Gaenzle, but do keep digging to learn whether the company and job are a good fit. Often, the conversation can lead to an interview.

  • Twitter: “Research your target companies on Twitter,” suggests Gaenzle, “and follow any handles they have that are dedicated to recruiting so you can see when jobs are posted.” Connect with recruiters or relevant hiring managers by liking, retweeting, or engaging with what they post. After two or three interactions, reach out directly to compliment their posts and then start to build a rapport about working with them. When appropriate, send them back to your LinkedIn profile for more details.

Related: Social Networking: How to Connect With Potential Employers Online

4. Practice networking in your workplace

Your co-workers may have much to offer to your career from right within your own company, and it’s perfectly allowable for you to network with them.

Whether you’ve been at your current job for two months or two years, networking with fellow employees can help you grow in your current role or provide information that can help you step into a new one. The right mentor can make you aware of new opportunities that might not be posted at large.

5. Offer to help

Wherever or however you do it, networking isn’t meant to be one-sided. It should provide value for both parties at some point. Look for ways to help your network, and they’ll readily want to help you in return.

One option is to volunteer. Work for a non-profit group that resonates with you and you’ll likely make strong, lasting connections with other volunteers. Another route is to find skill-based volunteer (SBV) opportunities that let you use your professional skills in your volunteer efforts.

In all situations, remember to both pay it back and pay it forward when someone has helped you.

6. Be consistent

Sometimes it isn’t about how you network, it’s simply about doing it regularly. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there to connect with others, formally and informally, on a regular basis. Studies have proven you’ll be more successful if you do.

7. Follow up

“It’s a simple task, yet many professionals neglect this critical step in the networking process,” states Augustine.

As soon as possible after meeting someone new (either online or in person) send a LinkedIn connection request and include a personalized message asking to stay in touch. Then be sure to reach out every so often with comments about posts, to share valuable career information, or simply to see how they are.

Networking is one of the most important job-search techniques you should have in your toolbox, with a wide variety of methods to fit every personality and situation. The only two hard requirements are a willingness to stretch beyond your comfort zone and the intention to pay it forward by helping others when you can.

Your skills will get you started, but the connections you make through networking can help ensure a long and thriving career in whatever profession you pursue.

Click on the following link for more networking advice.

Your resume should be just as strong as your networking skills. Is yours? Submit for a free resume critique and we’ll tell you.

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