Career Management

Thinking about making a career change? Get networking!

Building a strong network plays an extremely important role in the job search and when you are looking to enter a new sector all together, this can be quite daunting.

However, if you have already established and nurtured a network of contacts throughout your career so far, your existing connections may be able to lend you a hand. Though they know you for your current role and contribution to that particular industry, if you have formed positive professional relationships, you will probably find that they are more than willing to help where they can.

Here are a few ways that you can make use of your network when changing careers.

1) Let people know

Just because you are entering a new industry doesn’t mean that your existing contacts are no longer of use to you. Spread the word that you are looking to change careers and you never know, somebody may know somebody in your target industry who they can introduce you to. Don’t limit yourself to your professional network either, as your family and friends may also be able to point you in the right direction.

2) Have a clear out

Take a look through your LinkedIn contacts list and weed out those who you have lost contact with and keep only those who you want to have future contact with. Chances are that your list is full of people you’ve had very minimal contact with, if at all and sometimes the quality of your contacts is more important than the quantity.

3) Do your research

If you’re at a loss about who you could contact, do a little bit of research about your target industry and the professionals working within it. You can use LinkedIn to have a look at what kind of career path people in your ideal role have followed and to check out a few businesses of interest. Once you have identified influential individuals in the sector you can go about = introducing yourself.

4) Use social media

LinkedIn groups are a great place to get to know others working in the industry. By interacting with other users’ posts and sharing your own content and thoughts, you can strike up conversations and build relationships with professionals in your target sector. Other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can also offer you the opportunity to communicate with like-minded people.

5) Ask for advice

If you know somebody who has changed career before, seek their advice. They’ve been there and done that, so they may be able to give you a few pointers about how you can meet more people and transition into your new sector. If they’re somebody who has broken into your target field that’s even better, as then they will hopefully be able to provide you with some guidance for breaking into the industry and a bit more information about the nature of work.

6) Go to industry events

Organisations frequently hold industry events for professionals to get together. Some are organised purely for the social aspect, whereas others offer the opportunity for thought leaders to speak, sharing their industry insights and developments. Do your research to find out if any are taking place nearby and pop along to a couple. This will give you the opportunity to learn a few things about your new industry and make some potentially valuable new contacts.

7) Keep people up to date

Once you’ve made the transition into your new career, make sure you keep people informed about what you’re up to. You should also make a point of thanking anyone who helped you a long the way, as they will feel more inclined to help in the future if you show that you are grateful.

[Image Credit:Eziutka /  Shutterstock]

About Sophie Deering

You can follow Sophie at @SophieDeering.

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