Have you ever heard of the “hidden job market”? Well, in all actuality you’ve probably already participated in that market. Employers often fill job openings through the “hidden job market”. So, how can today’s up and coming professionals find work via the hidden job market? In a word, networking.

Here are there valuable keys to establishing a great network.

  1. First, you have to know what a network is, and how to build it.
  2. Next, it’s time to determine who should be part of your network.
  3. Finally, you must understand how to maintain your network and how your individual actions may affect your network.

Building a Network

Networking is, at its basic, getting to know likeminded professionals and using those relationships to build professional contacts. Your own personal network will often consist of many different people from different walks of life. This can include family, friends, school mates, peers and professionals, and more! Everyone has a network, but to successfully network as a young professional it’s all about how you use that network to your advantage, and how that network works for you.

Growing and maintaining your professional network is an important step towards success for young professionals. There are numerous ways to grow your professional network, which is as important as maintaining the network itself. Find ways to grow your network in your own community by joining personal and professional groups and organizations. Getting to know your neighbors is an amazing way to find new members for your network right in your own proverbial backyard. Professional associations, including Home Owners associations, can also be a great way to find common ground with peers that can be added to your network.

Develop Your Relationships.

Having a well-functioning network that works for you is not just about having an abundance of people in your network, it’s about having the right kind of people too.

The list of appropriate people for your network ranges from early mentors that can help guide your career in the right direction, industry professionals that are knowledgeable and have the ability to keep you up to date on new trends and technology, and can even consist of those that you spend time mentoring and help to guide. Each and every person in your professional network is going to bring a unique perspective and tons of new knowledge to the table. Use the knowledge that your network gifts you as a way to grow and improve yourself both personally and professionally.

Maintaining Your Network for years to come.

In many ways a network is like a savings account. Everyone knows that making a deposit is better than making a withdrawal. Each action you take, from lending a helping hand on a project, to helping a neighbor with some yard work, is a deposit into your network, and the more you deposit the more your network grows. As you grow your network, treat it like you would a bank account. Don’t make a withdrawal until you make a deposit. These actions may seem insignificant at first, but they add up and show your network the type of person and employee you’re likely to become. Even when you pursue activities that make you smile you can add deposits to your network. Developing relationships and interacting with the people who make up your network should be beneficial and fun. Building a network is the equivalent to building lasting relationships, and nothing builds relationships faster than quality time spent together. As you grow closer to those in your network, the people in your network become more comfortable with you. This is valuable in the long-term when you’re seeking recommendations or referrals, or even seeking advice from another professional in your network.

Simply put, there are few things more valuable than a well-rounded and fully functional network of peers and professionals. Be on the lookout for potential deposits into your network, and make withdrawals when needed based on unprofessional behaviors. At the end of the day your own network should be a wealth of information, knowledge, and advice. Use that knowledge to your advantage and learn from those that have traveled in your footsteps. As a professional you can learn a lot from everyone out there, even if it’s what not to do. Utilize your network and be better off because of it.