Updated 4.27.22 – This is the second part of the spring clean your career series. Check out part one if you have yet to do so. Year after year, studies report that up to 80% of jobs are found through professional networking, so taking stock of your professional network is critical. The good news is, your network is actually something you can manage and control! It may take a bit of dedication, especially if you’re actively seeking a new opportunity, but your activity will pay off in spades.

Make your LinkedIn profile shine:

Just like your resume, you’ll want to be sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and complete. You may think that simply listing out job titles is enough, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. An anemic profile conveys two things to people in your network.  One, it suggests that you don’t know how to properly utilize and leverage the platform.

Two, it insinuates that you just can’t be bothered or don’t really care about putting yourself out there. Conversely, your profile isn’t meant to duplicate your resume. This space is precious and unlike your resume, it is rather static. You can’t change it to address each specific job opening you’re applying to, but everyone that receives your resume will almost certainly view your profile.

Take full advantage of this opportunity and make sure you tell your story in a way that your resume can’t. Having trouble figuring out how to present your summary or experience? Search for people in similar careers and study their profiles for inspiration.

Start professional networking:

Once your profile is complete, start researching companies you’re genuinely interested in working for. Next, find employees of these companies whose professional paths inspire you. These are the people you want to connect with. Reach out and let them know you admire their career path and that you’re hoping to follow in the same direction.

In your message, once you’ve adequately expressed why you were compelled to reach out to them, ask if they’d be willing to speak with you over a quick coffee or brief phone call. This is a great way to begin professional networking. Be sure to let them know that you’re looking for insight on how they got to where they are and any suggestions on the next steps you should take.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of limiting your networking to LinkedIn. Networking happens anywhere and everywhere. Be open to others whether you’re waiting for the bus, at a coffee shop or shopping in a store. You never know who you’re going to meet! Need help with networking in general? Get more advice here.

Find a mentor:

Many successful people, publicly share the positive impact having a mentor had on their professional networking development. You may find a mentor through your networking efforts, but your mentor could very well end up being someone at your current place of employment.  Whenever you can, take on additional projects that put you closer to top level executives.

Once you’re able to build a bit of rapport, let one of them know how much you enjoy your work, where you see yourself growing and ask if they can give you advice on what you can do to further develop your career. Hopefully, a natural mentor-mentee relationship will develop. Even if it doesn’t happen organically, there’s nothing wrong with asking someone with whom you’ve had a good working relationship to mentor you at this stage of your career.

While you may think mentors seek people out to take under their wing, it’s usually the other way around!  Here’s some additional information on mentors, why they’re important and how to find yours. While this article is geared toward women, the information is useful to all.

Surround yourself with positive people:

The people you hang out with affect your mood, motivation, and desires. You, in essence, become like the people around you. They can impact your thoughts, belief in what’s possible, and your whole outlook on life! Encapsulating this thought is the highly quoted phrase by Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whatever you do for work, whatever your passions are, you undoubtedly have a goal in mind. Be sure you surround yourself with positive people who make you feel like you can achieve what you’ve set out to do.

While a level dose of reality is always appreciated, be aware of friends and colleagues that love to engage in downer dialogue! Misery loves company, and it’s contagious. It is ideal to avoid pity parties or risk losing your focus and motivation.