Looking to Change Career Paths? Your Network May Be the Key to Your Success

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
June 22, 2024 at 6:48PM UTC

Are you seeking a career change? If so, you’re in good company. Today, in a world that’s constantly in flux and full of disruption, numerous people are evaluating and reassessing their goals and priorities — often leading them to change directions and seek out different paths.

You’ll find plenty of advice on how to make a successful career pivot, no matter what your age or experience. One common thread, whatever you’re looking for, is that your network will prove critical to your search.

1. Research, research, research.

Before you get to the meat of the networking process, you should conduct some research. Find out more about your target industry — what are the roles and prospects within it? Who are the big names and decision-makers? Who are the thought leaders? Who are the “gatekeepers,” so to speak? This will give you some direction during your networking.

2. Tell everyone.

As you’ve probably discovered, sometimes, help can come from the unlikeliest sources. Friends, family members, friends or family members — anyone might know someone who knows someone who could change the course of your entire career trajectory

While you might want to keep your search to yourself in some cases, such as coworkers if you don’t want your current employer to know, in most instances, you should be as candid as possible. Of course, always be gracious when someone tries to help, even if you don’t think it will lead anywhere.

3. Leverage your current contacts.

Your existing contacts could prove useful as well. Even if your desired industry is seemingly unrelated to your current one, again, the contacts you’ve made could have connections in your prospective field. What’s more, they can probably attest to your current work and professionalism, including transferable soft skills, which could give you a leg up in a new space.

4. Tap into LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a wealth of resources for job seekers of all types, whether you’re looking to change careers or take the next step in a more linear professional journey. As you probably know, there are plenty of ways to connect with others across industries. You might, for example, contact a connection of a connection who has a prominent position in your desired field. Or, you could send a message to a professional you admire, commenting on, for example, an article they wrote.

There are other ways to form connections via LinkedIn. There are groups, opportunities to share work and achievements and even courses to elevate your skills.

5. Attend events in your desired industry space.

Networking is one of the primary purposes of industry events, such as conferences and less formal meetups. Seek out industry events in your desired field. This is a great way to chat with others and make connections, as well as learn more about the niche you’re looking to be a part of. They could provide opportunities to get to know others and learn about potential openings, too.

6. Look to your alumni network.

Finally, don’t forget about your alumni network. People often want to help others who share similarities with them — in this case, an alma mater. Your college (possibly even your high school, too) probably has a robust network of individuals who will be eager to help you in your career. Tap into this valuable resource by sending a nice, gracious message (or several). Not everyone will respond, but chances are, many will be happy to share their knowledge and provide guidance.

Ready to make a change in your career? It’s never too late. But it will take some significant work on your part — and networking is the way to start.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is an editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Belladonna, Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, and Points in Case. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of networking advice for those changing careers? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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