Personal communication is a tool that is extremely useful. Whether you're actively or passively looking, meeting people is a fantastic way to generate trust, build your reputation, create opportunities and increase your chances of securing your next position.
You need to ensure that you get out and speak to people, having effective communication skills is an essential life skill. For the food ingredients and flavours industry, a great way to enhance your communication skills is attending a trade show. Engaging with people at an open event like a trade show can provide opportunities - you never know what might come up in conversation.
By speaking to someone in person, they are able to gain more information about you. They can learn about your experience, strengths and professional conduct. Typically, this is something that can't be judged over a LinkedIn message - This is why companies have face to face interviews as part of a recruitment process...
If the thought of networking doesn't appeal to you then you need to learn to embrace it, it is a skill that is essential for day to day life - it can benefit you both now and in the future.
Specific Search Terms
The way you present yourself is very important, first impressions count. Before you start contacting anyone, make sure you know the type of position you want and how you want to go about getting that position.
Top Tip - There is no point starting to network if the only information you have is that you know you want to leave your current company. This will be a waste of time. Make sure you have looked at the requirements for the type of role you are looking for, including role, industry, company size, progression and culture. Once you have ticked these boxes, you will know exactly what you are looking for, and you will be able to communicate this to anyone you connect with.
It's not what you know, it's who you know...
Of course calendar management is important but make sure you are filling your calendar with appointments that are productive and important. Informal networking isn't always productive, but professional networking has a purpose, therefore this is essential when you are looking for a new job.
Again, engage with people at trade shows, they are a good way to get your foot in the door, allowing you to find out key information about businesses and the people that work there, providing opportunity to engage and kick off discussion.
Preparation is the key to success...
People in business aren't interested in doing favours, they want a mutually beneficial relationship.
Once the conversation has finished, it is always a good idea to connect with that person on LinkedIn - keep in contact with them. You never know what opportunities will arise in the future so make sure you stay in touch with your network.
Overall, online networking is a fantastic tool for your professional development whether you are a passive or active job seeker. Maintaining long term relationships still revolves around face to face contact and its key to make sure you decide how you are going to develop a network of professional contacts whether for short term or long term gain.