How to improve your professional network

Having a professional network is of great importance in today’s job market. According to experts, between 70% and 85% of people find a job thanks to their network.

Why is it important to have a good network?

Not only does having a professional network give you many advantages in your job search, but it can also be for the purpose of enhancing your business, learning new skills, getting advice or finding partnerships and connections.

Since Abroad Experience is a recruitment agency, we’ll focus on the job research part. Indeed, your application will get more attention from a recruiting manager if you are recommended by a shared contact, compared to an application via a website. By multiplying your contacts, you will get to know more people who know other people who might need somebody with your skills or even have a job for you.

Online networking

There are several ways to develop your professional network for employment purposes and a number of platforms dedicated to professional life online. On LinkedIn, the current leader in this field, you can easily connect with other professionals, start a chat and interact about professional interests.

Other interesting platforms also exist, like Meet-up, where you can create meet-up events based on themes. The themes can be professional or less professional. This is a nice opportunity to get to know people during an after-work meeting and discuss business or share experiences.

Facebook also has business groups depending on your location, language or other skills and interests. By joining a Facebook group you stay up to date in regard to opportunities in your region or area of interest. See what is posted and try posting something to create interaction with members. Who knows – it might lead to a job opportunity for you.

More about online networking platforms

Networking events

Depending on where you live, networking events can also be an option to expand your network. There will be more opportunities in large cities. For expats seeking a job in the Netherlands, these events are very helpful. Firstly, to learn more about the Dutch (work) culture and secondly, to meet more people and to introduce yourself.

There are many networking and business organizations in the Netherlands: the Amsterdam American Business Club organizes network events to improve business contacts between Dutch and American companies. This is only an example, but there are many organizations that promote business between Dutch and foreign companies. Here is a list of those organizations and chambers of Commerce you can check in order to find the event that will fit your expectations.

What to do during a networking event?

The most difficult thing about networking is usually just starting to do it. Putting yourself out there can be quite challenging especially if you are not someone who’s used to meeting strangers or talking about yourself.

Our best advice would be to:

  • Learn how to introduce yourself:

    Personal marketing is key when you’re looking for a job. It is very important to know yourself: your strengths, weaknesses, motivations and also what you’re looking for in a new company or a new role. By knowing those, you will put yourself into the right mindset and be able to show the best of yourself to others. It will not be perfect at first but the more you practice during events or interviews, the better you’ll become. You can always start at smaller, informal event or ask a friend to come with you.

 

  • Ask questions and practice small talk:

    Even if Dutch people are well known for their straight forward approach, it would obviously be too aggressive to try to sell your solution or ask for a job directly. Your main goal when networking should be to extend your contacts and build connections with people with the same interests. It can be difficult to make the first move and start a conversation with a new person. Small talk is, thus, a good way to break the ice; for example, ask about career goals or previous experiences in a certain field. Stay up to date in regard to current affairs but try to avoid controversial topics during your first talk with your new acquaintance.

 

  • Listen and observe:

    Networking events are all about communication which means sometimes you can gain more knowledge by listening and observing the people around you. People usually like talking about themselves, so being a good listener and asking relevant questions will show your interest in what he or she is saying. Thus, you’ll easily create a comfortable and trustful relation.

 

Finally, the most important thing is to be yourself. If face to face networking is something you are not really comfortable with, online networking can be less scary.

Abroad Experience BV is an international recruitment agency which offers unique career opportunities to multilingual job seekers. See our vacancies.

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