Networking groups of professionals often allow people to get their career ambitions moving. If you're a professional looking for a networking group, though, it's important to spend your time with one that provides the right types of support and opportunities. Look for these four features when you consider joining a group.
Especially if you're starting your professional career, a good mentor can make a major difference. These should be folks with at least a decade of experience. Likewise, you'll probably want to find some professionals who are versed in your field. Not every mentor has to work directly in your profession, but you will want their insights and guidance to be as relevant to your objectives as possible.
Such associations should also operate as networking business groups. You want to have the chance to meet with people who make hiring decisions at companies you might want to join someday. It is also good to get a look at how some of their businesses run and who the people are that make their successes a reality.
Bear in mind that the network often has value beyond the one-to-one connections. Someone from one of these businesses could start their own company and suddenly need to hire people. A person you clicked with from one company might move to a place on your target list, too. Similarly, many folks will make in-network referrals to others who might be hiring or engaged with projects. the point of the network is to make enough connections that you might be surprised by what comes up.
Networking groups for professionals should also hold real-world and virtual events. These are opportunities to discuss important topics, such as networking skills, hiring practices, and business processes. There should also be sessions appealing to several different topics so you can pick and choose what parts of the events work best for you.
Events are nice, but the social component of networking also matters. There is value in dinners, camping trips, and other social functions where you and the group can connect. Casual conversations can often loosen people up, especially the folks who might not be all-stars at events. You may find opportunities in networking functions that don't jump out in more structured settings.
You will have a chance to gather names and learn about people, companies, professions, and even other associations. Especially if you're not sure where you want to land at this point in your career, this mixing and matching could inspire you.
Contact a company like Networking with Liz for more information.