A client that I met with recently attended a church function and met a very high-ranking officer from a large financial institution. Negotiations continue, but the employment prospects are much better from the client stemming from this reception.
Networking, like most referral-based ideas, has its positives and negatives. These include the following myths:
Myth: Networking is nothing more than cocktail mixers.
Fact: These events are merely places to meet those you already know and those you don’t. Take the time to make new friends.
Myth: The only places I can find to network are amongst my peers and competitors. Those can’t be good places to network.
Fact: Amongst peers can be a great place to network. After all, they speak your language and know what you do.
Myth: Morning “leads groups” that meet weekly are a waste of time.
Fact: It depends on the kind of employment that you’re looking for. Groups of this kind often cater to individuals. This is the best place to begin.
When I started my employment search, I had nothing but my resume and some money in my pocket. I wanted to begin my own business, but with a family of four to feed and bills to pay, what I needed was a great therapist and a second paycheck. I needed a job, not a business. So I dug in and began to call friends, peers, associates, and old colleagues. Within three days I had six sources, two interviews, and one possible offer. I did it, and so can you!
To be successful at networking, you need to jump in and get involved. Even when I was looking for work and thinking of my own business, I began to look for groups in the community. I began to get involved in community activities and meet new friends. I served on committees, did presentations, and invited new friends to lunch. Although I am now running my own show, I still receive employment offers from the networks that I have.
Here are five ways to get started:
- Check out several groups. Think of it as “dating” and keep going to different groups until you find a group that resonates with you. Don’t just impulsively join the first group you hear about. Conversely, don’t just go to a group one time and write it off because you didn’t get any employment leads.
- Join a group — whether it’s a professional association, chamber of commerce, or networking group — and attend regularly. Make attendance at this group’s functions a regular part of your employment search.
- Get involved in the association and make it a point to meet as many people as possible. Eventually take on leadership positions in the group. As a leader you’ll get more visibility. You’ll have more credibility. You’ll get a chance to show your stuff and what leadership qualities you can bring to a new employer.
- Give referrals yourself. Keep your networking associates in mind and attempt to give them referrals. You have always heard that it is better to give than to receive. And when you give, you get twice as much back in return. Give an employment lead and watch your job prospects grow!
- Be patient and persistent. It can take a while to build relationships, but the investment of time and effort is certainly worth it. Successful networkers don’t belong to a lot of groups. They build depth in the few they belong to. They’re loyal. They’re consistent.
About the Author
International speaker and author Drew Stevens assists individuals with employment advice and career transitions. Drew is a contributing editor to Sales and Marketing Excellence and North County News. To contact Drew call 636-938-4486, or email him at email@example.com to receive his tip book, ADAPT — 5 Steps to a New Career.