When first starting a job search, most people head directly to their computer to update their fifteen-year-old resume (the one we should all be updating yearly) and then apply for jobs on Indeed. They may even do a little networking – reset their forgotten LinkedIn password and update their profile. Writing resumes, searching for jobs, and updating LinkedIn profiles are time consuming, but those tasks can usually be done without leaving one’s home and can be done without having to talk to another human being.
I have had the opportunity to sit in on many job searching programs, networking groups, and career conferences and have heard plenty of conflicting job searching advice. However, the one consistent message that I have gotten from all those events is this: Networking is the best way to get a job.
For me the word networking conjures up the image of fifty strangers in a room wearing name tags armed with their elevator speeches. Even if you are a small talk master, the idea of going to such an event makes the word awkward come to mind. Formal networking events take effort, and they can be pretty easy to bail on when they come around. Luckily, there are many informal ways to network and make connections that one can bypass the formal networking events.
My sister-in-law wanted to make a career change and work at a hospital. She interviewed for one administrative assistant job and didn’t get the job.
Then she started volunteering at the hospital and landed the next job she applied for there.
Join a City or County Board
I indirectly got a job by joining a voluntary city board. There were quite a few initial meetings where I didn’t understand 70 percent of what was being discussed during the meetings, but slowly I got to know the other board members and it really didn’t matter about my lack of knowledge regarding the board—I had gained an “in” with that organization.
I spend most of my weekends on soccer fields. Where do you spend your free time? Attending your kids’ activities opens up a whole group of informal networking opportunities. Also, your book club, your hiking group, your church are all places to develop a rich network of people you will see on a regular basis.
Friends and Family
We all have connections, and people want to be the person that helps you get a job. It may not be your friends who are going to get a you a job, but it could be your friends’ friends. Let your friends and family know you are looking.
Networking Opportunities are Everywhere
One of the best examples of networking that I have seen happened in a grocery store parking lot. My husband and I were walking through the parking lot and a man saw the name of my husband’s company on his vehicle. The man walked up to us and told my husband that he was new in town and looking for a job in the same field as my husband and asked him if he knew of any openings with companies in town. They talked and then we went into the store. When leaving the store, we came back to the car and found the man’s resume on our windshield. His windshield resume got passed onto other people in the industry.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a job or not, networking can come in handy in many arenas of life. Even with a multitude of technology at our fingertips, it still comes down to who you know.
Come get more ideas on Networking. On Oct. 27 from 7:00-8:30pm, at the Council Tree Library, join career counselor, Carrie Pinksky as she presents, Authentic Connections – A Natural Approach to Networking.