If you’ve applied for every job in town with no luck and are now ready to find other ways to get the job you want, try networking. It’s the best way to tap into the “other” job market. Some experts say 70-80% of available open positions aren’t posted online. I’d agree that a majority of positions aren’t posted or easily found. You’re doing a disservice to yourself if you are ONLY looking at the job boards.
By attending events in your area, you can meet key decision makers and contacts that may be able to help you find your next job.
Here are 10 tips to help you get more out of your in-person networking.
1. Find Groups That Target Your Industry
If you want to work in PR for entertainment, as an example, visit Meetup.com and see if there are any groups or organizations that cater to this niche. If not, aim for a public relations organization like PRSA, which might have local chapters in your city. By connecting with people in the industry you work in or plan to work in, you can find out what’s happening in the field and what companies are actively looking to hire people with your skillset.
2. Have Your Elevator Speech Ready
When you meet someone new, you don’t want to stumble over what you say when they ask about you. You want to talk about your current role, and maybe briefly mention that you’re interested in finding a career in X area/Y industry. Keep it short and leave room for people you meet to ask questions.
3. Speaking of Questions… Ask lots of them yourself. People like talking about themselves, and this is a great way to get them to open up about hiring. While it shouldn’t be your agenda to aggressively approach a new contact about hiring you, asking casual questions like “what does your company have planned for next year?” can open the door to you getting a little insight into what might turn into a job opportunity down the road.
4. Take Notes
Ask for business cards of anyone you find to be a valuable contact (just don’t be that collector who goes around the room with nothing to offer!). If you can step away from the event, make quick notes on each card so that you remember who you met and maybe something you should follow up on. This will help you keep from letting good opportunities slip through the cracks.
5. Don’t Be a Wallflower
So many people feel awkward their first time at a networking event. That should help you realize you’re not alone in wanting to nurse your ice water along the wall and blend in with the plants. But fake it until it’s easier. After all, you came to the event to make new contacts, so make yourself walk up to someone who maybe looks as nervous as you do. It gets easier.
6. Don’t Self Promote
Yes, you want a job. But chances are, no one is going to interview you on the spot for one. That’s not your purpose. Instead, aim to meet a variety of people, and follow up later to grow the relationships. You should aim to make new contacts that could, down the road, develop into an opportunity for a career move.
7. Pay Attention
Once you attend a few industry events, you’ll begin to see the same people. Remember who you meet, and make an effort to recall something you spoke about at the previous meeting. This will impress your new contacts and help them remember you.
8. Bring Business Cards
Seems straightforward enough, but many people end up forgetting their cards and waste a great opportunity to connect. But don’t machine gun spray the room with your cards; focus on making quality connections.
9. Pick a Few Events
It can be tempting to attend a different networking event each night, once you get the hang of it. But you’re better off focusing on a couple groups that you can really commit to and start building relationships in. 10. Master the Followup After the event, make sure you reach out quickly. And please, don’t just automatically subscribe your new contacts to your automated email newsletter! Send a personal follow-up reminding each person where you met and why you want to stay in contact – and then keep in touch.
You’ve heard it time and time again: The key to a successful job search is networking… and not just when you are searching for a new position. Networking should be a constant activity you do throughout your career, whether you are searching for a new gig or happier than ever with your job.
Recently, Citi and LinkedIn launched a new group for professional women called “Connect: Professional Women’s Network”. Geared towards professional women, the group aims to help women increase their network connections, and provide members with valuable tips and inspirational stories for professional success. Group member are actively sharing interesting articles
Check it out!
And to help you network even more, Citi and LinkedIn provided me with FIVE premium year-long LinkedIn memberships to giveaway to readers. Each premium membership is worth $600 and provides you with Inmails, the ability to contact people outside your network, add personal notes to profiles so you can remember where you met someone, priority customer service, and more.
Winners will be randomly selected on Monday, May 14th.
To enter the giveaway, first join the Professional Women’s Network LinkedIn Group. Then make a comment on this blog post with a link to your LinkedIn profile. Make sure include your email when leaving a comment so I can contact the winners.
With your social calendar full of holiday parties this time of year, take advantage of the opportunity to network and build contacts that might help you find a job. Here are 10 tips to help you.
- Schedule as many networking opportunities as possible. This includes holiday parties at companies you want to work for, as well as networking groups, conferences, workshops and one-on one events. While you don’t want to overbook yourself to the point of exhaustion, you want to take advantage of this season, which has more events than the rest of the year. Plus, people are in better moods right now, thanks to the holidays, which is even more of a reason to kick networking into high gear!
- Don’t pitch yourself at the party. Focus on making friends. Yes, you want a job. But networking isn’t about pushing your agenda. It’s about making contacts and nurturing them. So you might meet a hiring manager at a party tomorrow. Rather than announcing your needs in the job department, follow up with an email. Then invite her to coffee or lunch. Maintain the relationship, and at the right time, you can ask about a job. Tactfully.
- Don’t slack off on the job hunt right now. It might be tempting to forgo your daily job search to wrap gifts instead, but you’d be making a big mistake. Many people assume job hunting is dead during the holidays, but in fact, the holidays are a great time to work on those relationships. Hiring managers are more available with work slowing, so it’s a great time to make contact, either over the phone or in-person.
- Strategically plan to be at parties where you know key decision makers will be. If you’re not sure which parties to fill your dance card with, aim for the ones with people who work for the companies you want to work for. If you’re lucky, you might have a friend who works for that company who can invite you to the annual holiday party. But also look at networking groups (check Meetup and see who the members are) to find the key decision makers.
- Send holiday cards as followup to meeting people. Networking isn’t just about drinking eggnog with other people; it also includes the follow-up. This time of year, you will stand out by sending a holiday card to your newly-made contacts. Handwrite a short note telling them how nice it was to meet them at the X party. Include your business card if you didn’t already exchange them at the party. Include a personal mention, playing off the conversation you had (“I hope your son wins the soccer tournament!”) to add a little more intimate connection.
- Schedule a coffee meeting if you feel the connection is solid enough. As you nurture these contacts, you’ll interact with them more and more. It might start out with a few emails back and forth. But if it feels right (you think the person will be receptive), invite your new contact out for coffee. Your objective here isn’t to ask for a job, but rather to get advice. Maybe it’s to ask what this particular company looks for in an employee, or maybe it’s to get mentored on how you can improve your skills to be more hireable. If your contact is comfortable with you and is in a position to help, let her ask if she can give you a reference or set up an interview.
- Find local meetings in your industry and participate. A great way to meet the movers and shakers in your industry is by diving in headfirst. Find groups in your area that meet monthly to discuss topics that relate to your field. This will help you get the behind-the-scenes buzz on who’s hiring and what they’re looking for.
- Don’t drink too much! We’ve all heard about the office party that went a little crazy. While it’s fine to have a glass of wine, remember you’re networking to impress. If the hiring manager’s memory of you involves a lampshade, you probably won’t fall high on the hiring list.
- Focus on giving, rather than getting. Networking is about creating value. Don’t go into it looking for what you can get out of it. Instead, focus on how you can make yourself useful to new people. Maybe you can recommend a good book to read, or connect a new contact to a graphic designer if she’s looking for one. The more you give, the more people will stick around. And they’ll want to give back to you!
- Don’t forget your business cards! This one seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many industry events I’ve attended where people had forgotten their business cards! Make sure yours has up-to-date contact information, and that you have enough to exchange. (Better too many than not enough!)
Keep these tips in mind as you network throughout December. Remember, it’s about developing long-term relationships, not getting what you want right now.
The June 2009 from my "From the Recruiter's Desk" column
is up on PRNewser. Here's an excerpt.
The value of networking online will never replace face-to-face networking. Some things are better in-person and networking is definitely one of them. That said, online networking has its purpose and is a powerful tool that should be integrated into your overall strategy when it comes to expanding and nurturing your professional network.
Considering geographical boundaries, time constraints, and personal obligations, online networking tools can help you quickly build a network that may have taken you years to build, if ever, any other way.
When we network in person, non-verbal cues help us interact with the other individual. We rely on all of our senses to engage in conversation and form opinions about moving the conversation to further stages. In the online world, we simply don't have as many sensory cues to rely on and, as a result, the game changes.
I do my fair share of online networking: LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, and blog commenting are my main tools. I also participate in a number of online groups and forums.
Here are a few personal tips I've found work well for me when it comes to networking effectively online....
For the 8 tips, read the full post on PRNewser - 8 Ways to Network Effectively Online.
Photo credit: Berlinpirate.de