Depending on your personal interests, social skills and professional goals, professional networking may or may not be your favorite activity. Whether or not you enjoy networking, it should be a priority in your professional life – especially earlier in your career as you are building your professional network.
Make Networking Part of Your Regular Routine
Networking should not be reserved for when you are actively searching for a new job or the next opportunity. Like all relationships in your life, professional relationships require ongoing effort. If you reach out to your professional or personal network only in your time of need, you are not making the effort to maintain a relationship. Ongoing networking also allows opportunities to emerge organically. Instead of having to actively look for opportunities, they may find you by way of referrals or recommendations within your existing networks.
Join an Industry Group
If you struggle with where to start, join an industry group such as ISACA and find an event or two in your area that interests you. Online events and meet-ups can also be leveraged depending on where you are located, but the best practice will come from in-person events. If allowed, bring a friend or peer to the event to make you feel more comfortable. It can be easier to navigate if you have someone to help facilitate the conversations. If you are not overly social, bring a more outgoing friend or peer to help you network.
Look Inside Your Organization
Look for opportunities within your organization to network – this can be as simple as walking around the office and meeting people you do not usually work with or asking those you work with regularly who might be good new resources for you. Your management and leadership may also be able to share networking tips or help make introductions for you. Try getting involved in an employee network at your organization if there is one or look at starting one if there is not.
Keep Your Connections Active
Successful networking must expand beyond the initial connection or meet-up – follow-up is critical. You do not want to become a nuisance, but you can find a way to foster ongoing communication naturally. You can share events, articles, book recommendations or other relevant content with people you have networked with if they have indicated an interest in maintaining contact.
Unexpected Opportunities Will Find You
The more you network, the more doors you may open to new and unexpected opportunities. Exposure helps grow your career in ways you may not be able to do on your own. You do not need to plot your next career move on your own – use your network for support.
Editor’s note: For more career insights for newcomers to the IT audit, governance, risk and security fields, visit ISACA’s Young Professionals page.