A Note About Networking
By now you would have to be living on another planet to not have heard about networking. Otherwise known as ‘not what you know, who you know’ every Employment Consultant will mention it to you. But how do you go about it? If you’re an introvert (like me) asking others for help can be challenging and it takes a lot to leave your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Most of my employment has been found using more traditional methods however my brother (who is probably the world’s most extroverted extrovert) has got every single one of his jobs through networking and has never once owned a resume. However, I figure you are reading this because networking is still new ground to you so to help I’ve compiled a list to help you get started:
Old Co-workers – These guys have the added value of probably already working in the industry you are interested in and probably having loads of contacts in the industry they have met through conferences and events.
Ex-Employers – Even if they don’t have a job that quite suits you available, chances are they know a whole bunch of other managers in the industry that might.
Recreational Friends – Just because the only interest you share is a love of ice hockey doesn’t mean they don’t have a cousin, aunty or best friend working in the industry. It doesn’t hurt to mention that you are looking for work in that area and do they know anyone (apparently we are only separated from any one person by six other people, so you could be in luck).
The Shopkeeper/Dentist/Car Mechanic – You are going to need to make small talk with these people anyway so instead of the same old weather conversation it won’t hurt to let them know what you are looking for. For all you know your mechanic could also service the car of the Manager of the very place you want to work at.
Random Emailed Persons – By this I do not mean to randomly email every address you can get your hands on. What I do mean is express your interest in the sort of position you would like and write a short career highlights/resume summary and send it to people on your above networking lists. Ask them if they can forward it to anyone they think may be interested in your skill set. I’d advise against this approach if your current boss doesn’t know you are looking for a new job as you have no control over where it ends up. Also I’d only list an email contact not a phone number or address for the same reason.
LinkedIn – Mmmmm, LinkedIn is huge at the moment but I’m still 50/50 on its value. If you have heaps of info that you can’t fit on your resume, by all means add it to your LinkedIn profile so a potential employer can still see it. Other positives include the fact that you can see who your connections are also connected to and ask for an introduction. Recruiters do often check out LinkedIn for potential candidates, I’ve had a number of overtures on mine however I love what I do and I’m not ready to move on. Just don’t rely on it as the be all, end all. Sign up here: www.linkedin.com
Networking Events – I’m not the biggest fan of networking events for the sake of networking events (probably because I’m an introvert and that is just too much pressure for me). I am a HUGE plan of professional development workshops, talks that involve your industry and training courses. Not only do you learn something but it also takes the pressure off of making connections. You can still network, but you’re not forced to.
Now you know who to network with, you need to actually write a plan up on who you are going to approach for simple accountability. So make a checklist with the actual names and a deadline to have it checked off by and get to it. I’m flexible with the communication method – if the phone or in person is too much for you, private Facebook or LinkedIn messages and email will still get the job done.