From finding your first job to expanding your professional network to finding a mentor and moving forward in your career, your network is there to help you succeed! However, certain people in your personal and professional networks will be more important during each stage of your career. Here’s a short guide to help you figure out which connections you should focus on.
If you’re just starting out, prior connections are going to be important. Or if you’re transitioning into a brand new career, your family or alumni from your school will be important connections for you. These are the people you can reach out to for advice because they already have a personal connection to you—either through a personal relationship or a school in common—and they may know someone who can help you get your foot in the door where you want to be.
Three to Five Years In:
At this point, if you have a mentor or former boss you have a strong connection with they’ll be your most important connection. Additionally, a recruiter that you trust who understands where you want your career to go is a great connection to make at this point in your career. You have a bit more experience under your belt and probably a better idea of where you want your career to go at this point so these connections are the best ones to lean on to move up the career ladder and point you in the right direction.
Middle of Your Career:
Your former coworkers who don’t work at the same company you do are your best resource at this point in your career! They can give you great referrals when you want to move jobs, possibly switch careers, or expand your network to help your current organization hire the most talented people possible.
Senior or Leadership Level:
At this point, people you’ve managed or lead on a team are the best connections at this stage in your career. These are the people who can vouch for your leadership style, help you identify your strengths, and let you know when senior positions are available at the companies they now work at. Additionally, this is a great time to work with recruiters who you worked with earlier in your career because they can help you find some hidden gems of opportunities you may not be able to find on your own!
The relationships you make both personal and professional are a two-way street. They can help you advance your career and you can help them advance theirs! This guide will help you determine which connections are most important at each stage of your career but it also helps you determine which people you can help most depending on what stage of their career that they are in. Networking can truly make a huge difference if you know how to maintain those mutually beneficial relationships and if you know when to turn to specific groups of people.
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