Networking is important to finding a job, a mentor and moving forward in your career, but depending on where you are on the career ladder, some connections are more helpful than others. Here are the people who will help you most at each stage of your career.
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These relationships take a lot of energy and time to cultivate and maintain, so focus on the right ones for where you're at, and where you want to go next, in your career. Connecting with only upper management or extremely experienced people won't always be the most helpful.
- Just Starting Out: When you're looking for your first job, or first transition to a new job, reach out to your family and alumni. Both are groups that you already have a connection with, which helps when you haven't been working long enough to build a strong network.
- Three to Five Years In: Look to a former manager for a mentor or solid referral as you make the jump up the career ladder to other opportunities. If you're interested in taking on a junior-management role, a recruiter can help you find the right position.
- Mid-Career: Former coworkers who are now at other companies are a strong source of referrals when you want to move jobs, or even switch careers.
- Senior Level: If you want to find open senior level roles, keep in touch with people you've managed before and been a great boss to. They're the ones who can vouch for you and let you know when senior positions open up at their companies.
While the above list focuses on the people who can help you most, remember that professional relationships are a two-way street. None of these people will help you if you only reach out in a time of need, so build these relationships before you need them.