You hear or read about it every day as a jobseeker – you need to network to get a new job! The biggest issue is not what you know, but what you are doing about it, because most people find networking downright overwhelming despite understanding its importance in their job search. Here are 10 of the reasons people don’t or won’t network:
–I’m uncomfortable introducing myself to, and talking with, someone I don’t know (shy).
–Fear of rejection.
–Expecting networking to work like magic, and giving up when after a couple of networking events, I don’t have a new job.
–I don’t have time.
–I can do all my networking online now.
–I can find a job without networking if I just apply to enough jobs online.
–I like my privacy.
–I have no idea how to network.
–I have no idea where to find networking opportunities.
–I don’t want to ask others for help or a favor.
Do any of these sound familiar? So, how do we overcome the “land of excuses,” here are eight suggestions to try:
First, I recommend getting a networking buddy; a friend or acquaintance that may also be looking for work. This person should be outgoing and comfortable talking to strangers, and may already be experienced in networking. Your buddy will introduce you to others, and get you used to the process of having a networking conversation.
Second, privacy does not exist anymore to the extent it did before Google and 9/11, so don’t be afraid to let people know where you might have worked or what you do. Remember, there is no need to give them your address, Facebook account password, and driver license, you are merely having a conversation.
Third, use a networking business card with your name, specialty/job title, email address, telephone, and LinkedIn link. You can print them via Microsoft Word yourself. Having a personal business card allows you to control what information is given out, and to get business cards/contact info from networking contacts.
Fourth, networking online is fine, but don’t become a hermit only looking through social media venues for contacts, when that face-to-face meeting will get you more “bang for your buck.” Furthermore, just applying for jobs online over and over doesn’t work for most jobseekers, and is again relying on online efforts only to get you a job. Combine your online and in-person efforts and your job search success will accelerate.
Fifth, look at your local business journal (all large cities have them), local LinkedIn groups, and other local publications for networking opportunities throughout your area. You can also go online for articles and check out books at your local library on networking to get more comfortable with questions you can ask, tips on introducing yourself to others, and how to keep a conversation going.
Sixth, remember that networking is NOT ABOUT YOU, but how you can help the other person. This approach should leave you feeling less anxious about networking and trying to “impress” others. Always provide some information that might help the person you are networking with, like a company you hear is hiring, the name of contact you have, other networking events around town, or even how to create their own networking business card.
Seventh, we are all busy, but truly we all make time for what we really want or need to do. If you want to network you will schedule that time into your job search.
Eighth, you will not get great contacts at every event. Not every person you meet will “love” you and want to hire you or help you in some way to get a new job, and yes, it can be hard to ask for a favor. Networking will not work like magic within the first two or three events you attend. The old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is still true and very much applies to networking as relationships aren’t built in one event. Give networking a try; be yourself, be polite, go into it with an open mind and relax, and it will ultimately pay great dividends to your job search.
Karen Silins is a multi-certified resume writer, career, business and personal branding coach working with individuals and small businesses. After graduating with degrees in education and vocal performance, she made her own career transition into the Human Resources realm. Karen left Human Resources to become an entrepreneur and help jobseekers and fellow entrepreneurs achieve their goals. She keeps her pulse on the resume writing, coaching, HR, small business and marketing industries by working daily with individual clients on resume development and career coaching, consulting for small businesses in business plan development, marketing, hiring and overall HR processes, and providing 50-70+ seminars and workshops annually to a variety of organizations in the greater Kansas City area. She can be reached via her website at www.careerandresume.com.