I know what you’re thinking: networking tips? From Adrienne? Isn’t this the same woman who just wrote about her struggles in trying to find a job?

Yes, I know. For those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve likely heard of my many difficulties in finding a job this year. So I guess you’re right in questioning my ability to give advice on networking.

But as much as 2015 was the year of challenge, it was also the year of experience. Through my many difficulties, I learned a lot about networking and branding myself. And so in the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to share with you three networking tools, tips and tricks I’ve learned this past year.

It’s time to get social

I don’t know how or when, but somewhere along the line networking events were given a really bad reputation. For many of us, when we think of networking we immediately imagine an awkward atmosphere in which dozens of unemployed students vie for the attention of a single professional. Sipping cheap wine and cracking corny jokes, they occasionally offer small tidbits of information about themselves in the hopes of impressing an employer and being offered a job.

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Having once held those very same perceptions, I was shocked at how much I actually enjoyed my first-ever networking event earlier this year.  Tailored to students, it was hosted in a student pub and the setting was rather informal. Most of the employers who had been invited to the event were younger and brought fresh viewpoints on many industry trends. I made several connections and went home that evening with a renewed perspective of networking events.

That night I learned what I do and don’t like about these events and keeping those thoughts in mind, I now choose which ones to attend rather than simply refusing to go altogether. I’ve realized that networking is never a bad thing and its power shouldn’t be underestimated. In an age where it’s who you know rather than what you know, I highly recommend networking events, as you never know who you could meet.

Find your inner Anderson Cooper

Informational interviews (meetings in which a job seeker meets with an employed professional to seek advice on their career or to learn more about a specific industry or company) have been vital to my networking efforts this past year. But let’s be honest: I didn’t become an informational interview guru overnight! The idea of reaching out to a complete stranger and asking him or her to meet for coffee used to terrify me. But as with anything in life, practice makes perfect. With each new interview I developed better questions for my interviewees, conducted more engaging discussions and most importantly, gained more confidence in myself. While allowing me to learn more about the field, informational interviews have also given me the opportunity to connect with some amazing people.

If done correctly, these meetings will help you get your name out there while you build a network for yourself. Whether looking for employment or simply hoping to expand an existing network, informational interviews are crucial to successful networking.

For a list of questions you should be asking a potential employer, I recommend this Forbes article (it’s saved me many times!).

#TeamFollowBack

Say goodbye to #TwitterAfterDark and start using the power of 140 characters for good. With most companies and employers now on social media, Twitter has become a necessary networking tool. Just before I graduated, I created an entirely new Twitter profile and began following major publications and journalists who I admired. Only tweeting about news, my list of followers quickly grew to include the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and other smaller publications.

I eventually began using Twitter to reach out to professionals for my informational interviews, and when I began blogging, I used it as a means of connecting with other bloggers. Paying attention to trending topics and hashtags, I’m now quick to engage in online discussions which have also led to getting more followers and expanding my network.

Whether you’re an avid Twitter user or not, the fact remains 39 per cent of social media users prefer to connect online rather than in person. The social platform has become a powerful networking tool and should not be overlooked. Since revamping my own profile and better engaging with other users, I’ve managed to make many solid connections. And so, if you’re really serious about developing your  online brand, Twitter should definitely be at the top of your list!

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As usual, this is all just According to Adrienne. What networking tools, tips and tricks have been useful to you? Feel free to share below!

 

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