A young woman sitting at the window in a cafe is working from her laptop.

One way to spring-clean your networking tactics is to think about ways to expand your network. (Tom Werner/Getty Images)

With the spring months officially kicked off, it's a perfect time to rethink some core aspects of how you're managing your work life. An effective best practice is to spend a few hours or more as you enter the second quarter "spring-cleaning" some key elements of your career.

Spring-cleaning your professional life can mean different things to different people depending on their goals and next steps. With this in mind, below you'll find some top-line advice from an exclusive interview with Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of online career resource The Muse and co-author (along with The Muse's co-founder Alexandra Cavoulacos) of "The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career." Minshew offers recommendations for how to get a fresh start in how you're approaching personal branding, networking and job search:

[See: The 8 Stages of a Winning Job Search.]

Building a Personal Brand

In their book, Minshew and Cavoulacos emphasize that personal branding often comes down to what people say about you when you aren't there. Your brand is the impression that you give your co-workers, boss and even potential employers – even if that impression isn't intentional. And today's personal branding includes your online reputation as well as your offline one.

Knowing that you're creating a brand in people's minds even if you aren't meaning to do so, it's important to be thoughtful about the perceptions you leave with others. So if you aren't happy with your current brand (or aren't even sure what it is), this is a great place to start your spring-cleaning.

Minshew says one way to spring-clean your personal brand is to do a quick self-audit. "What message are you sending?" Minshew suggests asking yourself. "Is it still aligned with your goals? If not, how can you change it to make sure you're not missing out on any opportunities?" Once you've done this, she recommends doing a "sweep of all your social channels" for consistency with your overall brand. "Hiring managers often look at everything from Instagram to LinkedIn to your personal website to get a sense of who you are," points out Minshew. "And remember: Not everything has to get done in one day! Take your time and get it right."

[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2018.]

Networking

Thanks to social media, the way you used to network may no longer be enough. As "The New Rules of Work" points out, while some of the traditional rules of relationship-building are still viable, the practice of networking is now much more nuanced and goes broader than just the conference circuit. Because of these changes, spring-cleaning your approach to networking is important.

Minshew advises using a variety of ways to stay in touch with key contacts regularly, so that you can keep your relationships strong. "Don't just check in with your connections when you need something, like an introduction or an informational interview," she says. "Reach out periodically to say hello: Share relevant articles, invite them to events, engage with their LinkedIn updates – little things that show you're genuinely interested in staying in touch and won't just pop up when it's convenient."

Another way to spring-clean your networking tactics is to think about ways to expand your network. Minshew suggests asking yourself who else you might like to meet, and what industries you want to learn more about. "Plan to attend at least one event in the next month that helps you toward these goals, or grab five friends, ask them to each invite two friends and create your own networking event!" says Minshew.

[See: The 10 Worst Jobs for Millennials.]

Finding Job Opportunities

If your sole approach to job search is to look for openings, then it's time to update your tactics. "Job searching is about more than just finding open opportunities," Minshew stresses. "Try to frame your search around finding experiences for growth rather than only jobs that match your skill set."

In "The New Rules of Work," in addition to updating your resume, the authors recommend starting the job search process by thinking about your values, to identify what truly matters to you and which things you prioritize in life, whether that's flexibility or creativity, structure or compensation, prestige or social impact.

"As you're doing this self-reflection, think about how previous work experiences have aligned with your values and preferences, and when you've felt most fulfilled," says Minshew. "Once you know what you're looking for, you'll be able to make more informed decisions about whether a position or company is the right cultural and experiential fit for you."

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Tags: money, careers, Applying, Company Culture, networking


Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, journalist, and communications consultant on business, leadership and career issues. She serves as a copywriter, speechwriter and ghostwriter for executives and entrepreneurs across diverse industries, including finance, technology, healthcare, law, real estate, advertising and marketing. Robin has interviewed over 1,000 thought leaders around the globe and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in both New York and San Francisco, and contributed to the book “Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of Success,” published by Random House. Robin is also the author of “Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30” and co-author of “The Strong Principles: Career Success.” Connect with her on LinkedIn, circle her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter @robinmadell.

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