Individuals who are looking for a new job or professional path frequently make the error of reaching out to their network too soon. Prior to making the first contact with your network, it is important to have a vision that is clear or at least a vague idea of what you are looking for. Once you are clear on your goals, your network will help you get there. 

Here are 6 tips to help activate your network:

  1. Polish your digital presence—to network online, your online identity must be up to date and professional. Make sure that your profiles are current and are full of PAR statements which highlight problems (P) you have solved, specific actions (A) you took, and the measurable results (R) you achieved.
  2. Get comfortable asking for what you need. Be very specific with your ask. Recruiter Jen Selverian  suggests that you, “talk to me like a lawyer, not a genie. When you’re working with an attorney with a high hourly rate, you want to make sure every minute counts, right? You’re asking only the most essential and concise questions.” 
  3. Let people know you are looking for a new opportunity. Take the time to carefully comb through your email, phone, and LinkedIn contacts for people with whom you have enough rapport to contact. When you message them, remind them of how you know each other. Get comfortable asking friends, colleagues and family members to help broaden your network. We each have vast networks of people and most people are willing to help when they understand how they may help. 
  4. Attend industry events—both in person and online. Often people have extra passes and tickets to these events that you can use. 
  5. Follow up and be patient. The average job hunt takes six to nine months of intensive searching, follow-ups, and interviewing. Be patient with the process but also ready to respond quickly to the people who do respond. 
  6. Be willing to give back. Comment on others’ posts, make introductions, give feedback and support to those who are supporting you and beyond. 

Remember, networking is not just about making connections; it’s about building and maintaining meaningful relationships. Be genuine, show interest in others, and be willing to offer help and support as well. Your network can be a valuable resource for both personal and professional growth.