In my eight-year-long career in the media industry, I’ve taken two big breaks. The first one was involuntary and put me in a deep depression, while the second was voluntary and a lot more fun. But the one thing I learnt by comparing the two breaks was that networking is an extremely important skill that’ll help you greatly, in all stages of your career.
Simple networking tactics can go a long way in helping you restart your career, be it after a break for marriage, or for a baby or simply self-discovery.
In 2016 I quit a secured job to go on a month-long trip to Europe and explore other opportunities thereafter. The trip was great but coming home to no job in hand wasn’t. This time around, I was smarter and had already mentally prepared myself for the lows that come with not having a job. I also used my old contacts wisely, and a few emails here and there ensured that I had a cosy freelance gig to look forward to, something to tide me over as I looked for another exciting full-time opportunity.
Simple networking tactics can go a long way in helping you restart your career, be it after a break for marriage, or for a baby or simply self-discovery. Since networking is a fairly known skill let me share some self-taught and tried networking tricks that’ll help you a great deal in refuelling your career after a break. Take it from an introvert it isn’t as tough as you are thinking.
1. Make relationships and not pitches
The biggest mistake most people make is to treat every meet-and-greet like a business opportunity trying to derive something out of it. Sometimes it is best to try and connect to the person first and establish a mutual liking before you get to business. Talk about things other than work such as food choices or the latest film, to establish a bond that’ll go beyond just work.
Don’t simply exchange business cards and leave, make sure the person remembers you.
I was recently invited to a bloggers’ event where I shared a cab ride with another blogger. An hour-long conversation about everything, but work, has now given me a contact in the industry who sends me leads to every interesting opportunity that comes her way so that we can both benefit from it. So yes, friends first, does help.
2. Give a little to get a lot
Networking isn’t only about talking with people and getting things done. To make long-lasting relationships you also must give. Give in terms of advice, leads, information, knowledge and sometimes even an ear. Don’t simply exchange business cards and leave, make sure the person remembers you and saves your business card because of the valuable things you have to offer.
Back in the day, I’d often help a friend in digital marketing with writing content for his brand’s social media posts. I did this without any monetary expectations but later I got a paid opportunity to do content for those very brands.
So yeah, the corporate world does work in mysterious ways.
3. Be a keen learner
Networking is a combination of two important things – listening and asking questions. You may be in a conversation with a much younger person, but their experiences may also serve as great learnings for you. For me, when I wanted in on social media strategies, a 20-year-old was the best person to have a conversation with because who knows Instagram and Facebook better than a young adult who is hands-on with all the tricks to get more followers.
Social media can be a great way to announce that you are ready to kickstart your career. Just make sure you do it right.
Listen carefully to each one of your contacts and understand where the person is coming from. Basic conversations can help you pick up new skills and be in touch with new trends, especially if you are restarting your career and have been out of the game for a while.
Talking to people outside your networking pool is also a great idea to get insight into parallel industries.
4. Ask for advice
It could be from an experienced professor or an ex-boss, always take some time and ask for advice. A career break is a big deal, and it is important to know everything there is before you head back in. Trust me, keeping your ego aside and asking people to help you hurts no one!
5. Use social media effectively
It’s the age of social media and this tool can be used effectively to network and maintain contacts too. In fact, social media can be a great way to announce to the world that you are ready to kickstart your career and are looking for suitable opportunities. Just make sure you do it right.
Get on LinkedIn and build a strong online profile. Also, join other industry-specific sites/apps that can help you get more opportunities, for example, freelance content creators must be part of Upwork, Freelancer while dancers should be active on apps like TikTok (previously Musically) and Instagram. This will help showcase your craft to a wider industry-related audience that can be fruitful to kick-start for your career.
These methods has personally helped me uncover some great opportunities with big brands and I’ve also made connections with influential people who can be a huge help in my career.
You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Kommunity where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.