What does promoting a business or product have in common with finding a job? Actually, several things… but for today, the focus shall be on just one: Networking.
Some people love it, salesman and marketing types in particular. To them, it’s the art of working a room full of strangers, or of working the phones. Their goal? Make that one all important new contact.
Meanwhile, there are lots of people who hate networking, particularly when it comes to marketing a product near and dear to your heart: yourself. Some won’t do it, others will… both complaining that who you know should never trump what you know. This is a very admirable sentiment, but…
Networking is part of the revised rules of job searching. A good resume, wonderful work experience, and stellar references are still necessary… but what good are they if you can’t bring them to a hiring manager’s attention?
So – how to go about it? Well, the first part’s easy. Readers of this column have heard somewhere before that contacting friends, former coworkers, and former supervisors is a great way to mine for jobs. It is. It’s also the most basic form of networking.
How about support groups for those “in transition” (aka, “being unemployed”)? Sure… someone there may know of an opening that your particular skills could fill, or someone there may land a job, then reach out to bring you aboard at their new employer. One caution, though: beware the pitfall of commiserating too much with others “in transition” instead of working the room. It’s easy to do, but very non-productive.
Then there’s “Business After 5:00” mixers hosted by local Chambers of Commerce. Business owners/managers hang out at these, looking for new clients. For a job seeker, it’s a target rich environment. Just be cool about it – no one’s there to conduct a job fair. Work the room, talk to people, and let the fact that you are in between opportunities come up casually in conversation. If asked, hand out some of your personal business cards. (You have some, don’t you?)
You could also consider joining some social groups that pique your interest. Here’s a broad spectrum of examples, just to get you thinking: book clubs, the local HOG chapter (Harley Owners Group – though you do have to own a Harley to join), a wine tasting club, or a sports organization like the MSBL (Mens Senior Baseball League). Think about it. You’d already have a common interest, which makes talking to new people easier. Be patient, though. Once people get to know you, what you’re like, and the things you know how to do, they’ll be much more likely to help with making job contacts. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy yourself a little.
So there you have it. Networking 101. Maybe this column made it easier, maybe it didn’t. Doesn’t matter. When it comes to job searching, you don’t have to like it… you just have to do it.