Networking may be top-of-mind in the job search process, as a principal connector for candidates and employers. But networking is imperative for overall career and personal growth too. Furthermore, if a company wants to persevere and prosper, employees need to continue to grow as well. Professional development and networking often occur simultaneously. 

Recruitment
Agricultural employers report that employee referrals and networks are their top methods for reaching prospective applicants, with networking essential in building this pipeline. According to the U.S. Agribusiness HR Review, the majority (72%) of ag employers use social networks to support their recruitment efforts.

Online
Online networking is enticing because it is easily conducted from the confines of a home or office; you can hide behind your profile pic and not worry about those awkward sweaty handshakes. Following and interacting with companies of interest on social media sites, connecting with colleagues and customers on LinkedIn, building an online portfolio or resume, and utilizing online resume databases are all important networking avenues on the web. However, relying solely on the internet for networking means missing numerous opportunities.

In-Person
Attending in-person events allows participants to practice and hone soft skills that are required for on-the-job success. For employees in recruiting, marketing, public relations, sales, or leadership, making contacts is an integral part of their position. Employers who offer networking opportunities are attractive to candidates. In fact, research shows agricultural employers use training and development as one of their top methods to motivate employees.

Continuing education classes, association and committee meetings, alumni organizations, ag advocacy groups, volunteer activities and career fairs are just some of the ways to enhance communication and presentation skills, professionalism, and continue down the path of life-long learning. 

Ag & Food HR Roundtable
The annual AgCareers.com Ag & Food HR Roundtable provides relevant content examining recruitment and retention specifically within the ag and food industry. Held August 1-3, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri, this conference provides a rewarding networking experience.  More than 200 representatives from leading agricultural businesses, associations, collegiate career services staff, and agricultural faculty come together for the event.

Editor’s Note: Bonnie Johnson is a marketing associate with AgCareers.com. Click on the link to register for the 2017 AgCareers.com Ag & Food HR Roundtable, to be held in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 1-3.