network to transition to new career

How to Network to Transition to a New Career

Are you preparing to transition to a new career field? It’s challenging to convince potential employers that although you don’t have direct work experience in the new field, you do have transferrable skills. One way to achieve the credibility you need is to take relevant coursework. Once you’ve taken inventory of your transferrable skills and acquired any certifications or formal degrees you need, it’s time to start composing your cover letter. Of course, you’ll need to compile a list of recipients. That’s where networking comes in.

Networking is essential when you want to transition to a new career field. This is how you’ll rebrand yourself with people you know, professionals you’ll meet and with companies who are actively seeking viable candidates for open positions. Plan your networking activity with a multi-pronged approach that you’ll implement in stages.

Leverage existing connections

Once you’re fully committed to your new career field, it’s time to start sharing the news with your existing network. The more personal you can be with sharing your decision, the better. In other words, this isn’t something you want to put in a generic email blast or a quick Tweet. You want the news to come across as the thoughtful decision that it is. Another reason why verbal sharing is better is because it gives the other person a chance to ask questions and understand your choice. It also gives you the opportunity to expound upon your decision as well as to ask for their support. For close friends, consider sharing your news during a personal phone call or an intimate lunch for two or three. For colleagues and acquaintances, consider bringing it up during a conversation at work or at the gym. After you’ve notified all the inner circle people, then it’s okay to start posting about your new interest on your Facebook page, Instagram account and so on. Ultimately, the more people you can inform, the wider your network may grow, and the more likely you are to eventually get a job out of it.

Tip: When you announce your new career path on social media, make sure you mention that you’re in the market for that first job. Otherwise people might assume you’ve already found something.

Join online community forums

The next networking step is to start joining online community forums with members who work in your new career field. You can find many of these groups right on Facebook. Professional Facebook groups often have an “apply” policy, so you might have to answer a few simple questions first and then you’ll be notified if you’ve been accepted into the group.

Another online community forum that’s helpful for career growth is Reddit. This one is more for seeking and giving advice, but posting here can help you gain exposure as a professional in your newly chosen career. Conduct online searches for other online communities in your specialty. There will certainly be several that focus on what you’re interested in.

Tip: After being accepted to a group, write a brief first post to say thanks for the add and to introduce yourself. Then spend plenty of time reading what others post before publishing your own posts or commenting on what others have said.

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