There's an old saying: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Knowing the right people can help you get where you ultimately want to be in your career, which is why networking is so critical for any professional.
Networking has become easier in the age of social media, and as a result, creating a personal brand is also becoming easier.
To help job seekers build and grow their professional networks, Business News Daily asked networking experts to share their best networking tips.
1. Work on your LinkedIn profile
Social media sites, particularly LinkedIn, have changed the networking landscape. Many people rely on their LinkedIn network for referrals, introductions, reviews and references, all of which come in handy when you are looking for a job, said Michael Brown, a career consultant and author of the book "Fresh Passion: Get a Brand or Die a Generic" (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013).
Brown adds that anyone you deal with professionally should be added to your LinkedIn network. Even if your contact with these people was short, add them, because you are trying to grow your network.
LinkedIn is also a great space to learn about someone's professional and educational background to find similarities and create great conversation for a first meeting, according to Tyler Whitman, licensed real estate salesperson at Triplemint.
2. Organize your email inbox
Brown suggested creating an official contact in your email address book for anyone you deal with, and put as much information in there as you can gather. You want to be able to find the contact information easily when you want to reach out to people in your network.
3. Cast a wide net
Make it a career priority to have a diverse network in terms of industry, geography, tenure, experience, gender, education and whatever else you can think of, said Kelly Hoey, author of "Build Your Dream Network" (TarcherPerigree, 2017).
A broad, diverse network is going to provide you with more opportunities. Brown agreed, noting that you never know when you may need to talk to someone in a different industry or change career paths.
4. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask someone in your network to introduce you to someone they know, Brown said. This is business, he said, and most people will be happy to connect you to someone who can help.
You can also ask for help from a networking "wingman." It can be awkward to brag about yourself to a stranger, said Whitman, but if you network with a friend, that person can talk about you and your success, and you can do the same for them.
5. Always look for networking opportunities (but do it right)
Focus on growth and think about the people you encounter on a daily basis, said Brown. Grab a business card, or search for them on LinkedIn, if there is any chance you can call on them professionally in the future.
However, the one key thing to keep in mind is not to be selfish when you network, said Whitman. Create a foundation first, he said. Learn about the other person and tell them about you. Once there is a foundation, it's OK to ask for what you want, but don't try to jump the gun and ask for a favor outright.
"Every interaction from your voicemail message to your water cooler banter at the office is ultimately about forming relationships," added Hoey. "Be human and take an interest in other people. Don't leave the impression that every time you show up you're going to try to pitch an idea or sell a product."