Professional networking helps Christians identify and explore career opportunities. Nowadays, individuals do not even have to network in person; they can use social media to connect with other professionals digitally. They can also participate in global network ministries by using online resources for networking. Professional networking leads to connections and relationships that help job seekers get their foot in the door. Individuals can hone their networking skills over time by knowing what to do and what to avoid at events.
The value of networking is specific to each individual and their goals when attending events.
Networking is not always about finding a job. Sometimes one of the greatest benefits is sharing knowledge and resources with other professionals. For Christians, network ministries are crucial. In the field, it is beneficial to build relationships with other Christian professionals. Building these relationships leads to a variety of opportunities, including recommendations or interviews. The value of networking is specific to each individual and their goals when attending events.
How Do You Network Professionally?
Different Types of Professional Networks
The three forms of networking include operational, personal, and strategic. Operational networking helps managers build strong working relationships with their employees. This type of networking ensures cooperation and coordination among employees to accomplish tasks. Operational networking comes naturally to many managers and is an important piece of running a business. Personal networking is for professionals who want to explore other job opportunities. These individuals use clubs, alumni groups, managers, and personal interest communities to advance in their career. Strategic networking is for aspiring leaders. Future leaders network with information sources to build relationships with other managers. Strategic networking prepares individuals to step into a leadership position.
The three forms of networking include operational, personal, and strategic.
All types of networking happen in ministry networking. Professionals should constantly seek ways to build relationships with employees or colleagues. If individuals wish to advance their career, they might turn to personal networking. If they would like to transfer into a Christian leadership role, they can explore strategic networking to build relationships with other Christian leaders.
Networking events occur in many locations, but they are typically held at convention centers that can accomodate large groups. Networking events often boast job fairs, lectures, question and answer sessions with experts, and mixers. Since every networking event is different, job seekers can maximize their experience by knowing what to expect beforehand. Attendees should bring plenty of business cards so they are prepared when someone asks for one. Job seekers should not bring paper copies of their resumes, but they should come prepared to discuss the experiences they include on their resume. Professionals should arrive equipped with stories to share, good questions to ask, and answers prepared.
An elevator pitch is a brief, clear message about an individual. The point of an elevator speech is to communicate who an individual is, what interests them, what they are seeking, and how they can benefit a company. Elevator pitches are never longer than 25-30 seconds or 8-10 sentences. Christians should include a brief statement about their faith and background. The speech should clearly define who the individual is and what they could add to a company by way of their skills. Job seekers should set themselves apart with their elevator speech to make a lasting impression.
Social Networking Sites
LinkedIn is not the only online social network for Christians and other professionals. Additional sites include AngelList, Meetup, and Gust. Professionals use these sites to promote themselves and their skills. They can create profiles with their employment history, skill set, and education. Essentially, they use the sites as online resumes that they can share with potential employers. Most are free to use and easy to maneuver. Although social networking does not allow professionals to make face-to-face connections, it provides a convenient space to research opportunities and connect with others in their field.
Tips for Networking Professionally
Networking is not always cut and dry. It is a learned skill that individuals improve upon over time. Even experienced professionals continue to refine their skills at networking events, constantly improving their ability to build lasting connections.
Ask Simple Questions
Job seekers could wait around at a networking event, hoping someone will approach them, but it is best to be proactive. Individuals should approach someone and start a simple conversation by posing a question such as: "What brings you to this event?" Listening to what someone else has to say is a great way to get to know them.
Networking events allow individuals to share their enthusiasm about their field or the services they offer. Job seekers should share stories about their professional endeavors. Discussing something with enthusiasm and pride is a great way to engage with others and leave a lasting impression.
Focus on Building Relationships
It is easy for job seekers to get excited about networking and let their focus shift to selling themselves. However, it is important to keep conversations light and informal. This helps build relationships rather than come off as a sales pitch.
Arriving early to a networking event shows diligence and dedication. Also, the room is generally quiet and calm right before the event, allowing individuals to find people who are not engaged in conversation yet.
Listen to Others
Making other people feel valued, special, and heard is an excellent tactic at networking events. Job seekers should not interrupt or dominate a conversation, but rather focus on getting to know others and offering information about themselves when appropriate.
Networking for Christians
Many different groups serve as social networks for Christians. These groups allow Christian business owners and professionals to connect with one another to build relationships, offer support, and expand their networks. In these groups, individuals share their love for God with each other, bringing them closer together. Networking events at local churches provide a way to develop a ministry network, and Christian professionals can also explore opportunities within their individual Christian communities. They can discover job opportunities, make connections with like-minded professionals, and learn valuable skills.