Whether you are new to the workforce, returning after some time away or thinking of switching careers, Melva Tate, PHR/CLC, wants you to network.
“Everyone should network. It should not be limited to a specific group or demographic. Students should network. Stay-at-home moms should network. Teachers should network. Every individual should have basic networking skills. Networking is an outward extension of good communication and personal interaction skills,” said Tate, president of Tate & Associates LLC.
“Networking has two levels of importance: developing and connecting. Networking will allow you to develop your communication skills, elevate your professional presence and strengthen your personal brand,” Tate said. “It is also a proven platform to expand your sphere of influence. The more people you know, the more people you can assist and who can assist you and your circle. Networking is more than just introducing yourself and handing someone a business card. It is more about and finding a connection with that person. The connection could be finding out you’re both graduates from the same university, that you share mutual friends or as subtle as cheering for the same NFL team on Sunday afternoons.”
Many are under the mistaken impression that you need to be established in your career before you network, but this is a misnomer.
“As a career coach and certified life coach, I know the value of developing networking skills at an early age,” Tate said. “And unfortunately, I see the deficiency of networking skills every day. Students should be taught the art of networking in high school. College or vocational environments should reinforce proper networking techniques. I’m shocked when I encounter a professional who fumbles over the question, Tell me about yourself. The ability to answer this standard question is fine-tuned during the practice of networking.”
Tate says networking should be ongoing, and it is not limited to a certain location.
“Your doctor’s office or your next trip to Walmart would not be considered traditional places to network, but may present an opportunity to expand your sphere. I have met influential people in both places,” Tate said.
“There is no ‘best’ place to network because all environments provide networking opportunities. However, I encourage my clients to actively search for and attend professional networking events.”
To learn more about Melva Tate, visit http://tateassociatesllc.com/ and search for “TheCareerCoach” on social media.