By Elaine Mead
Networking is a vital part of career development for learning more about your industry and is a great avenue for uncovering upcoming jobs and new companies you might like to work for.
When it comes to your career and professional network, any activity can be an opportunity to network if you approach it with an open mind, curiosity, and passion to learn more about those around you.
Face-to-face networking and professional conferences are off the table for the time being, and there’s no certainty when these will be back on. Luckily, there are heaps of ways to still maintain a professional presence online, keep up-to-date, and find out about potential job openings.
Below are five avenues you can explore right now:
1. Join LinkedIn
LinkedIn is probably the biggest and most obvious way to get involved with some digital networking. It’s the world’s largest professional platform with everything you could possibly need when it comes to boosting your career — company pages, job listings, micro-credentials (really short courses), and global thought leaders sharing updates and insights. There’s no end to what you can discover and who you can engage with.
2. Join a professional association
Professional Associations are a fantastic way to meet, engage, and learn from like-minded professionals in your own industry. Every single career path has one (or several) associated professional bodies who issue informative newsletters and magazines, professional development meetings, workshops, and guest talks. You’ll usually pay a membership fee, but it’s a worthwhile investment (and usually claimable on tax). Belonging to professional associations also looks great on your resume.
3. Try an online course
Maybe not such an obvious one, but completing online courses is a great way to grow your professional network. You’ll learn from academics and educators you might not have come across before and share ideas and learnings with other students in the course forums. It’s a great way to learn something new and hear from others around the world.
4. Check out Eventbrite
Many organisations and companies use Eventbrite to host and promote details for upcoming workshops, events, and guest talks. You can search across your local town or city, and filter by interest or type of event. It’s a great way to uncover upcoming professional events that can double as networking opportunities. Many of these are now taking place online, but it’s worth checking out the site so you’re ready for when things start happening in person again.
5. Find a social group
Sites like Facebook and Meetup have a plethora of groups that are focused on specific industries or career pathways and can be a fantastic way to meet others in your field. There are groups for every level, from new graduates to seasoned professionals. They’re a more relaxed way of engaging and usually filled with people sharing interesting articles, advice, mentoring opportunities, and even jobs.
Elaine Mead is a Careers and Work-Integrated Learning Educator based in Tasmania.