Contributed by Kelly Blakeslee, M.A., CRC, LLPC, Corporate Vocational Counselor
Many job seekers often overlook the work that must be done before employment happens. At times, he/she may overlook not only the need for extensive job searching and networking, but also the value in those efforts. How could one go wrong with additional opportunities to meet new people, practice making the pitch, or making introductions?
Recommend joining a social or professional group that allows for networking with others.
Networking involves connecting with other professionals, who have similar skills or interests, to build relationships, and explore potential opportunities within a specific field. Although networking can seem daunting for some, there are a couple tips and tricks to help make it more enjoyable.
Networking is for anyone, at any point in their lives/careers. Networking can be used when looking for a job, to learn from others, generate more business, solve social problems and to build upon social interaction skills. There are “unspoken rules” dictated by any social setting; conversations that take place in a coffee shop or after work at a club are distinct from those that may occur in the work site. Tell them: Go out. Practice. It is the best way to unravel those rules.
Where to network?
Anywhere! A formal event, career fair, or even the supermarket can provide
opportunities. Here are some examples of where to find places to network:
- Community Boards, Event Listings
How to network?
- Find an event to attend
One has to want to be there. Networking events are focused around similar interests. We are at our best when we are interested in something and will find it easier to participate in conversations and contribute.
- Determine what is wanted from the event
There are many benefits from attending a networking event, whether or not the goal is to connect to a potential job. Spend some time preparing conversation topics, or determining how to introduce oneself and share their personal story.
- What is the attire for this event?
A job fair will always require business professional dress (a suit) ; whereas, a business social event at a restaurant will be more relaxed with business casual clothes (dress pants, dress shirt, no tie). A purely social event (often found on Facebook or MeetUp) will be okay with regular clothing (Jeans and T-shirt).
- Arriving at the event
Once arrived at the event, scan the room to see either familiar faces or people who might have an interest in talking. Bringing a friend, co-worker, or same-age caregiver the first time, can help to ease the anxiety.
- Walk up to someone to start a conversation, be open to those approaching, staying on top of the signals being sent
If the main reason for the event is to network, there is a good chance that someone will come over and introduce themselves. If nobody has introduced themselves after a few minutes, one can ask to be pointed to the organizer of the group. This person will have a good idea of who may be a good match and is typically responsible and passionate about making those connections.