New to Networking? Take a deep breath and say, “hello”.

Talking about the economy seems almost cliché, but I can’t think of anyone unaffected in my circle of family, friends, co-workers and colleagues. A year ago I started to notice the effects of the recession on my former employer and I began to consider my career options should I lose the job I enjoyed for nearly six years.

I realized that I had been relatively isolated in my career, working for a small employer, since moving to Fort Collins from Denver six years earlier. I kept reading about the importance of networking and the hidden job market. The potential results of networking sounded great to me, but the idea of networking also sounded scary and overwhelming.

I read many articles and blogs on the topic of networking and set out to become an experienced networker. I haven’t yet found a job as a result of networking, nor has networking opened a door to a flood of job leads that I couldn’t have found on my own. Still, I have enjoyed much value from my networking experiences.

Networking is about relationships. Make a connection with another human being. Through networking, I have reconnected with past colleagues and friends and discovered new relationships that offer much more than job leads. I have enjoyed friendship, support, encouragement and shared knowledge and wisdom. Networking has enhanced my personal and professional life. It has helped shape my job search strategy and helped me better define my own skills, experience and career goals.

As you’re just starting out your own networking journey, take a deep breath and say, “hello”! You don’t have to be a networking expert to introduce yourself. You don’t have to have a lot of know how to have a friendly conversation with another person. Networking can be as simple as enjoying social time together, encouraging someone else in their job search, or sharing some of your own professional expertise.

And you can check out some of these articles for in-depth tips and tricks.

1) Get Networked! provides a good overview of networking.

2) 10 Ways To Network Properly.

3) Network Your Way to a New Job or Career.

4) Give, and Get (pdf attachment) from my favorite local networking group, NoCoNet.

When networking, remember to relax, have fun, and give back to your network.

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