Networking Works, If You Work It!

I wish I had a picture of the car my husband sold to someone for $200 bucks shortly after graduating from college. Reality check – my future husband should have paid HIM to take that car off his hands! It was that bad!

That exchange got my man his first job out of college with Dial Corporation! After writing the check the guy looked at my man and said, “Damn! I can’t believe you just sold this piece of crap to me! I’m a recruiter and I’m going to find you a sales job in a week!” And so he did!

Believe it or not, this can be viewed as networking. Not traditional networking, but it paints the picture that networking can be found it very different ways.

Workshop after workshop I see strong recognition on peoples faces when I tell them “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” when it comes to finding a job. I stress the importance of networking by quoting statistics and providing numerous stories of people finding jobs through the power of networking.

There are many pieces to the job search puzzle, but networking should be at the top of the list.

Let’s unpack this:

  • People are 85% more likely to find a job through networking efforts. Why? It’s quite simple. You are getting to know someone — developing a relationship. Not just for your benefit; it should be a two-way street. When attending a networking event, think about how you can help others. When you are in the right head-space and not focusing on your own needs, it creates a mutual beneficial two-way street for engagement.
  • Offer your sincere attention to creating a relationship with people in several settings: LinkedIn groups, networking events in your community, Meet Ups, volunteering in your field of interest or community, informational interviews, and joining organizations such a Toastmasters International so you can build your skills while creating real relationships.
  • Are you shy? Remember: People LOVE to help other people. The “pay-it-forward” concept is a big part of networking. Ask yourself, if someone asks you for help, are you more than happy to help? Of course! So, why be afraid to reach out to others? People love to provide insight and help others. If it helps, bring an extravert partner along to help break the ice and calm the nerves.
  • Networking comes in many packages. Job fairs and networking events are not your only avenues. Look into MeetUps in your area. If you love wine or cooking, joining a group based on a hobby or passion can be a great way to network. Building relationships based on mutual interests….this is networking too! I have no problem talking to someone at the grocery store standing in line (yes, I’m that person). You never know! Why not?
  • Set up informational interviews after targeting companies you are interested in. You never know what that informational interview can turn into. They may provide leads for you to follow-up on or maybe you really hit it off and they introduce to HR or create a job for you. Maybe they will provide insight on certifications you may need. I’ve heard these success stories way too often not to encourage this type of networking.
  • Volunteering is another huge networking avenue. You can offer your time by volunteering in your industry of interested, or through traditional community organizations. Traditional volunteering feeds your soul because you are helping others, but it’s a great way to engage with people that have a similar passion for helping others. Volunteering in your field of interest can provide insights for you, especially if this is a career change, and allow others to experience your abilities.

Networking works, if you work it!

What doesn’t work is sitting in front of a computer scanning job boards. That is the biggest time suck and proves to be very low on the success scale of finding your dream job. The more you put yourself out there, the more people you meet, and the higher your chance are in finding your new great career opportunity!

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