Networking is a word that either strikes fear into the heart of a job-seeker or is one he or she is familiar with. In its simplest terms, networking is two people exchanging information to contact each other if they have job leads or contacts in an target company. Networking is increasingly becoming the best way to find a new job. In order to be successful, this networking has to be exponentially increased.
So how does one accomplish this? Preparation is key to increasing your visibility when you network. First get some business cards printed up with your contact information, what your job title is and list some of your core strengths. These cards can be printed by using software such as Microsoft Publisher or they can be ordered through vendors online like Vistaprint for a low cost.
Next, create yourself a profile on LinkedIn to showcase your work experience, education and skills. Once your cards are ready and your LinkedIn profile is online, find a network meeting to attend. The Georgia Department of Labor can assist you in finding one. Many churches in the Atlanta area also have career ministries to assist job-seekers and host one or more networking meetings a month.
Now comes the key part of succeeding: Leave your shyness behind when you go to the network meeting. Whether you like it or not, you are now the sales and marketing manager of “you.” Starting conversations with strangers is hard, but remember they are at the meeting for the same reason as you. Over time you will develop a 30-second elevator speech to use that will let the other person know who you are and what you are looking for. Exchange business cards and jot notes so you can remember what that person needs for contacts or leads at a target companies.
Social networking now comes into play increasing your contacts. If you are LinkedIn and connect to another person that is LinkedIn, you have access to each other’s contacts, growing your network. Attend a few more network meetings and network and your network base grows even more. LinkedIn also has groups you can join to increase your network. Think of it like the shampoo commercial — “I told two friends about me, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on.”
Once you start targeting companies to work for, use your LinkedIn connections to get informational interviews and connections within a company.
As you attend meetings, you will gain further information and advice on job-seeking skills and strategies from other job-seekers and guest speakers. If you are member of an industry/trade group, you have another forum in which to network as well. Chamber of Commerce meetings are an opportunity to let potential employers know about you.
In addition to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can also be used to increase your network.
Get your business cards printed, leave your shyness behind, memorize that elevator speech and network meetings become enjoyable.
Happy job hunting.
Jeff Gzyl is a job-seeker from Lawrenceville looking for a technical support positon. He attends many network meetings in Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton County.