As an IT Contractor, I'm often asked for networking tips to keep people connected in between assignments. Fortunately, networking as a contractor is no different from networking as a non-contractor. It's just networking, period.
Keep in mind that the end goal is to meet people, make connections and expand your circle of influence. People network everyday in many ways and most of the time it is very informal. I'm including a few simple strategies that have followed my career over time, kept me employed and growing my career in a way that benefits me.
- Hello, my name is - networking usually begins with a hello! I understand not everyone has an extroverted personality, but a simple greeting and firm handshake are valuable assets. Speak clearly, introduce yourself and learn to engage in conversation. These are the beginning steps to being able to market yourself and your career.
- Choose your venue - there are formal networking events like agency mixers, recruiting events and even job fairs. But there are also less formal settings that you can control. Try to go for the simple meet and greet at a coffee shop or favorite lunch spot. It will make conversations more personal and intentional. Besides, food makes everything easier.
- Social Networks really work - sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and the like, are great tools to communicate and meet recruiters and potential employers. Don't be afraid to establish a strong social media presence to build, expand and showcase your brand.
- Follow-Up is key - finally after you've been introduced and had your conversations, remember to follow-up. Send a note every quarter letting potential recruiters know what your employment status is, or just to keep in touch.
Remember, networking is about connections and relationships and that is not just a one time affair. It will take time, effort and attention. These connections in many cases are lasting and can have positive effects on your career, so make every interaction count.
If you're interested in growing your career, contact us about your next steps.