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When an employer looks at your CV or Resume, they are sometimes looking for more than what you know, they are also looking for who you know and how that may benefit their organization. In addition to maintaning a solid list of friends, colleagues, and acquaintences that can help further your job search, business-oriented social networking sites such as LinkedIn have added an entirely new networking dimension by connecting you with people you may never have met otherwise, for very litte or no cost.
Keep in touch. Whether in person or online, networking is not about building an impressive list of people you have known or come into contact with over time. Networking is all about ongoing communication. Remember that an occasional email, text, or phone call may keep you in the forefront when an acquaintance learns of an opportunity he or she remembers you might be "perfect" for. Also keep in mind that a large percentage of available job positions are unadvertised and, without a personal network in place, you may never hear about them. Keeping in touch is also important if you need to ask for help or a favor since people will be less inclined to recommend or assist someone who hasn't bothered to connect with them in months or even years.
Make it mutually beneficial. Networking is a two way street, right? Make your business relationship mutually rewarding by offering assistance to those that are going out of their way to help you.
Be Prepared. Have your business cards and contact information readily available at all times. You never know when you will run into someone that will be your key to landing that perfect job.
Stay connected. Whether in your laptop, PDA, or portfolio, make sure you always have access to your list of contacts, as well as a .pdf and/or hard copy of your CV or resume. "Cloud" services such as Dropbox and Google Docs have also made it extremely convenient to have all of your information available anywhere there is an internet connection, in just a few clicks. Accessibility at all times is crucial so that when the timing is right, you can take advantage of who, and what, you know.
Be ready to create a lasting impression. If an opportunity presents itself in a public setting and you are unprepared or disorganized, it is often impossible to reestablish contact and make a second impression. The old advertising slogan that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression", is mostly true. Adding to your network connections can happen anytime, anywhere.
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