Keys to Successful Networking for Kansas City Professionals
“Networking is not optional. It’s required.”
That’s the message for Kansas City professionals from Matt Tidwell, Ph.D.
Tidwell, program director for the integrated marketing communications master’s program at the KU Edwards Campus (KUEC), says your resume matters — and so do your accomplishments — but knowing the right people is indispensable for finding your next job.
“The way that people get hired for jobs is not through online postings,” Tidwell said. “It's through a very basic effort — networking within the professional community in their vocational area.”
Tidwell shares his top four tips to networking in the Kansas City area:
It Takes Work
Networking is rarely something you fall into. You have to make an effort to get to know other professionals who share your job field, interests and outlook.
“You have to almost view it as getting a job is a job in itself,” Tidwell said. “You have to be very methodical about it and you have to invest. Oftentimes it's not money — although certainly that can help if you think about joining professional organizations and things like that — but it's even more investment of time.”
It Takes Individual Effort
Yes, join the professional organizations. But also make a deliberate effort to have one-on-one interactions.
“If you’re in job search mode, and you want to expand your network, you need to be having coffee in person — brief coffee meetings — with probably two to three people you don't know every week,” Tidwell said. “And then I would have another two to three phone calls with people you don't know, setting them up for the next week's coffee.”
He added: “The professional development groups and programs that are out there, I think they're better than nothing. But I don't see them as nearly effective as the shoe-leather method.”
It Takes Technology
“We have more tools as networkers in 2018 than we did in 2007,” Tidwell said. “We need to use those tools to our benefit.”
The best tool for business networking? Tidwell says that’s LinkedIn.
“LinkedIn is a social media tool and its sole purpose is really networking,” he said. “Let's say you work for a company that I've seen a job posting for. You're not in my network, but because I've networked with my friend I can now see all of his connections including you. I see that you worked for XYZ Company, I can call my friend, and have him set up a meeting for us. That makes LinkedIn worth it.”
It Takes Getting Over Yourself
Some of this may be difficult for introverts, Tidwell acknowledged. “I certainly realize that if your personality type is more introverted, frankly, it means the work is going to be even harder for you.”
That’s not a get-out-of-networking card, however.
“I talk to a lot of job seekers — some of whom come into Kansas City maybe from a larger city like New York or someplace like that,” Tidwell said. “And I tell them that there certainly are great jobs here. Oftentimes it can be harder to find those jobs because the town really runs on this network of who you know. So that's why I say it's not really optional.”