Out Of The Box Networking

Networking should be one of the cornerstones of your job search, but sometimes job seekers get bogged down with churning out online applications. For those who are unfamiliar with the process, networking may sound like shopping one’s resume around to various professionals and asking them for a job. In reality, networking is often a process of several one-on-one conversations with a wide range of people, both within and outside your industry, about your professional interests and employment history. Each of those connections can provide next steps and more names of people worth contacting.

Real life examples: client’s situation with a hiring manager that didn’t lead to an offer, client that reached out to a Professor at GT, connecting with college alumni, clients mom and cousin, former college friend, Talking to the person in the queue at graduation (G’s second cousin), me at Church, make it a habit to ask for 3 more introductions at every networking meeting

If your job search seems stuck in a rut, it may be time to shake up your networking. Here are some practical ways to move beyond the endless business card swaps to make better use of your current contacts and cultivate useful new ones:

Get Outside the Business Box

The more people you meet, the more likely you’ll encounter someone who can offer you an opportunity or pass your name on to someone else. Make a point of communicating your job search goals to virtually everyone you interact with: your hair stylist, the dog groomer, your next-door neighbor. Reach out to those old high school friends who found you on Facebook. Probe your common interests, and you might be surprised how many contacts turn up in your industry.

Everyone wants to help a volunteer, right? Offer to help with events, committees or projects that can put you side-by-side with new faces in a fresh context. Volunteering gives you a common purpose that helps open up conversations.

Don’t be afraid to approach a big shot. Scott Ginsberg, author of The Power of Approachability, urges people not to be intimidated by leaders they admire. Send an appreciative email to an expert or speaker, and you may be surprised when they follow up.

Even your dog can help. People really open up around their pets. Visit dog parks and talk to other owners. Some bars and restaurants even have “yappy hour” events with treats for Fido and drink specials for you.

Be the Duck in a Pool of Swans

It’s tough to stand at traditional networking events, so get creative. If you’re a man, try going to a women’s networking group. If you’re an executive assistant, try attending some executive-level mixers. When you’re the odd duck in the room, you’re a walking conversation starter.

Be the Expert

It’s great to attend networking events, but it’s even better to be the speaker at one. Put together a presentation on a niche topic that’s in your wheelhouse and offer it to groups that may be interested. Be sure to include tips and examples from your own business experiences—and be entertaining! Networking groups and professional associations are always clamoring for speakers; consider service clubs like Rotary and your local chamber of commerce, too. You’ll expand your network, build your resume and raise your visibility, all at the same time.

You can also take the lead and make yourself the hub of a network. Arrange a lunch for a small group of people you’ve met at recent networking events, or introduce your various networks to one another.

Build relationships within targeted companies

if there is a company you’re highly interested in working for that’s not hiring right now, reach out directly and set up an informational interview. That way, when a position opens up, they’re more likely to remember who you are and know for certain you’re genuinely interested in becoming a part of their team.

Start blogging about your profession

Blogging is a great way to not only grow your network and show off your expertise while helping others, but also to attract job offers.

Join a gym

A great place to network with people across different industries and positions, there are also many other reasons job seekers should exercise regularly.

Meet your contacts needs

Fill those needs whenever you can. The more you give, the more you’ll get.

Always follow up

Whether to confirm a referral or send over a link to an article you discussed, find a good reason to follow up with new contacts before they forget about you, which is usually within 24-48 hours.

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