Where are the best places to network?
Professional Associations – The very best networking takes place when you attend meetings with professionals in your field. May job seekers think that they are actually networking with their potential competitors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like-minded professional help one another find employment. Make sure that you are joining associations in your field.
Job Networking Groups – I have led a local job networking group for over 10 years. Some job seekers call me ask, “Why should I network with people who are out of work?” It’s a reasonable question, but very myopic. When you meet a new person, you are actually introducing your self to 200 people…it’s actually the number of friends and relatives that you would typically invite to your wedding. Besides, people in job transition are always willing to help and may know people in your target companies.
One-on-One Meetings – I suggest scheduling at least 3 face-to-face meetings each week. Personal networking should be high on your list. Having informal meetings over coffee, at lunch, before business hours or after hours should be high your networking agenda.
Conferences and Conventions – Make sure that you go online and find out all of the professional conference or conventions that are coming to your city. It’s a great way to meet people face-to-face.
Job Fairs – For entry-level positions like light industrial, administrative professional and call center positions, job fairs are still a good networking resource. If you are mid-career of later, job fairs will not be a good networking resource for you. Your time would be better spent elsewhere.
Business After Hours and Chamber of Commerce Events – You will meet a lot of sales professionals at these events. Sales people are typically very well connected in the community. Get to know them.
Educational and Training Opportunities – Always be searching for cost-effective educational seminars and training sessions in your city. Even if these seminars are remotely connected to your field, you will meet a lot of people in a professional setting that you can network with.
Serendipity – It just happens. I have talked with candidates who have found new jobs by giving their elevator speech to their eventual hiring manager in an elevator. One person found their next job by just talking to a stranger in the grocery line. Be receptive to conversations with people that you would normally not pay attention to. You just never know.
Weather permitting, wash your cars. I mean, really get them clean inside and out. Car washing burns a lot of calories and there is nothing better to lift your spirits that driving around in a clean car.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau