Building relationships is crucial to succeeding in the workplace and while you are searching for your next job. Effective networking can help cultivate quality relationships, which may lead to promotions and interview opportunities. While networking can be rewarding, it requires strategy, motivation and sometimes courage.

In this article, we discuss why networking is worth your investment of time and effort, and we explore how you can network for your next job.

Why is networking important?

Networking enables you to take advantage of personal and business connections, rather than relying solely on your resume. These connections are not only beneficial for you but also for employers, who hire many new employees through networking.

Companies want to hire the best person for the job. There is pressure on those leading the hiring process to find someone has the skills and experience necessary to succeed in the position and who the employer likes and trusts. While interviewing based on resumes alone can help employers find strong candidates, relying on networks and the networks of their employees can reduce the risk of a bad hire.

Using networking to get a job interview means you’ll enter the hiring process with a relationship and level of trust with your employer, thanks to you network.

Networking to find a new job can also give you access to opportunities that you may not find in an online job search. Many positions are not listed on company websites but are instead shared only internally or through networking. This means that you need to be regularly communicating with those in your network so they know your skills and experience, trust you and know when you are in search of a job.

How to network for a job

Networking for a job requires strategic thinking and developing skills that help you connect with others. By networking efficiently, you can guarantee that the effort you put into cultivating these relationships is worth your time and the time of your colleagues.

Here are a few tips to consider when networking for your next job:

  • Get face-to-face.
  • Offer help.
  • Fight your fear.
  • Be patient and make time.
  • Focus on the relationship, not your resume.
  • Use social networks and online resources.
  • Follow up.

1. Get face-to-face

While it can be tempting to network only from behind the safety of a computer screen, networking in person can provide a more personal interaction. Rather than only emailing the friend who works at the company you want to work for, schedule a time to have lunch with them. During that face-to-face time, discuss not only the position you are hoping for, but also your personal relationship.

In addition to meeting in person, consider attending events where you can make new connections. If you’re searching for a new job in your current field, attend a convention, business social or job fair so that you can meet others outside your current company who have shared interests. If you want to move beyond your current field, find someone in your network to attend an event with. Once there, meet as many new faces as possible and exchange business cards.

You can also personally network with friends and family in much more informal settings. Accept invitations to family gatherings and friendly parties, and mention to those you speak with that you are searching for a new job. You never know when you may find the right person with the right connections.

Related: How to Get the Most Out of Jobs Fairs

2. Offer help

You can improve your relationships with your contacts and your chances of finding work by offering to help your contacts. Remember that networking is about turning outward, and volunteering to help your connections can illustrate your motivation and dedication and may even allow you to display your skills.

Listen to your connections and look for opportunities to help regardless of whether they are guaranteeing you a position in their company. They may remember your assistance and recommend you for a position in the future.

3. Fight your fear

If you are an introvert, you may need to challenge yourself to be more outgoing to network effectively. Encourage yourself to do a little more than you normally would by speaking to someone a little longer or interacting with a handful of people at your next work event. If you feel anxiety about interacting with others, try preparing questions and discussion topics before talking with them. You may also be hesitant to network for fear of rejection. Try to be proud of your efforts regardless of the outcome, and remember that you will have more opportunities to create connections that may lead to the job you want.

4. Be patient and make time

Cultivating strong relationships can take time, as can networking to find the right position. You will likely need to be patient as you meet with connections and make new ones.

It can also be helpful to call a company you’re interested in working for and ask for an informational meeting. Go with the intent of getting to know the company and potential hiring managers, instead of planning to ask for a job. Taking that time can help build new relationships and familiarize yourself with your potential employers.

5. Focus on the relationship, not your resume

Even though it is tempting to focus on selling yourself and sharing your resume with everyone who will take it, focusing on relationships may make a more powerful impression than your previous work experience. Present yourself as a likable person before showing your professional worth.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

6. Use social networks and online resources

Networking through face-to-face interaction is invaluable, but if you want to maximize your reach, use social networks and other online resources to reinforce relationships and search for new connections. In some cases, meeting face-to-face with employees of your target company may not be possible, but the internet can close the distance. Online contacts are a simple way to make initial connections. Post on social networks when you are seeking employment and message friends and followers that you think can help you in your search. Also, use discussion boards like Indeed’s Job Forums to connect with other professionals and job seekers.

7. Follow up

Following up is an essential step in guaranteeing that your networking interactions were worthwhile. Follow up with new connections after making initial contact. This follow-up can involve thanking them for meeting with you, asking further questions or sending along an article relevant to your conversation. These continued interactions strengthen the relationship, remind the contact of your meeting and perhaps cause them to think of you for an open position.

A friend may also recommend contacting one of their connections. After reaching out to that contact, email your friend and do so again after you’ve received a response. This shows gratitude strengthens your relationship by continuing to involve them in your journey.