By Christy Eichelberger
When you're thinking about important aspects of job searching, networking should be at the top of your list. One of the biggest job-hunting mistakes you can make is in underestimating the value of creating a solid network.
Networking is about developing and maintaining relationships. An extensive network increases the chances that you will hear about job openings or be recommended by word of mouth for a position.
Networking remains important throughout your career, not just when you're starting out. Yes, it's important to get started reaching out to and meeting people in your field as soon as you graduate and are ready to look for a job. But it remains important even when you're well established in your career path. Even if you're not actively searching for a job, it's a good idea to keep in touch with old coworkers, friends, and members of professional organizations associated with your career. This will make it easier for you to reach out to them when the time comes. You never know when you might need to find a new job, whether it be because you are relocating, looking to move up the career ladder, or because you were laid off.
Your network can be made up of anyone who can assist you in your job search. This can include friends, relatives, previous or current co-workers, former schoolmates and alumni, or even people you have made contact with online through social media, networking sites such as Linked In, or online chats or forums. GettingHired.com offers a networking forum that enables job seekers to post questions or comments about the type of job they're looking for so other members, and even potential employers, can respond. If you have a disability, this forum will connect you with other job searchers who may be facing similar challenges as you, as well.
In addition to networking online, it's a good idea to try to attend alumni events and social gatherings, and join professional associations. The time and energy it takes to develop and maintain your network is a worthwhile investment. Even if you don't think you need it now, it's important to have for the future. You can start working on your network with GettingHired.com's forum here.