Finding a new job can be a full-time job. What can you do to work smarter and make the process easier and more efficient? Networking. Networking is the act of interacting with other professionals to exchange information and develop new contacts. These new interactions and professional relationships can be the key to job hunting success. The tips below will assist in triumphantly landing your next job.

To some, networking can be scary leading to hesitation and fear of being portrayed as annoying or pushy. However, networking isn’t about aggressively promoting yourself to others, it is building beneficial relationships connecting you with people; people you know, those you aren’t familiar with and some you may never have met. Although it sounds intimidating, it is certainly rewarding. Networking is nothing more than getting to know people. Anyone can assist in moving your job search forward you just may not know.

Why is networking the best way to find a job? It is far more effective than searching job postings and applying online. It serves as an avenue and is crucial and valuable for directly connecting to individuals in your chosen field. Historically, people conduct business with people they know and like. A resume and cover letter can be impersonal and not convincing enough for an employer to hire you, but if you are a recommended referral, more than likely you will be considered in a different light.

Begin to brainstorm your network. It is most likely greater and more powerful than anticipated. Think family, friends, colleagues, church members, teachers… you get it, keep thinking! Your job search network will be the outgrowth of the network you already have. You’ll be amazed at those that can potentially be the key to your job search success. Next, locate these valuable people in your professional social media outlet (LinkedIn) and invite them to connect. You may already be connected, if so, you are one step ahead! Once connected, seek their assistance in a direct message. Be personable in your message taking the time to catch up, ask how things are before moving toward asking for assistance. For especially busy people, be respectful of their time by getting straight to the point. It is extremely important to have a specific goal in mind such as “I am seeking an opportunity in digital marketing. I see you are connected to the marketing manager at a company I am considering. Would you mind introducing me to the marketing manager?” Asking for insight and information will not make them feel pressured and most will gladly assist you if they can.

Furthermore, it is extremely important to stay active in your network. Don’t ask for assistance, then go away and never be heard from again. Update those who are kind enough to assist you. Ask if there is anything you can do for them, and of course, thank them for helping you. Continually strengthening your network is also significant. Do so with a message such as “I see you are connected to Mary Brown who I worked with at ABC Company. I would like to connect with you too, let’s network!” Accumulating new contacts is beneficial. However; keep in mind that the quality of connections far outweighs quantity as quality connections will be crucial to your network and job search.

Keep working your network, making new connections, direct messaging with a goal in mind, and strengthening. The underlying goal of networking is to re-invigorate your existing relationships and develop new ones. All of this will be sure to make your job-seeking experience a success!