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Networking Not Working?

When I think of "networking," I tend to think of stuffy country clubs, golf courses, and smoky backrooms where the elite talk amongst themselves, wheeling and dealing their way to the top. If this is networking, then it's definitely not working for me or 99% of us. The truth is networking happens everyday, everywhere, for everyone us. It's about making connections, starting conversations, buidling relationships, and getting to know people who may in turn know of an opportunity that will help us find a side-door to employment or advancement. If your networking is not working for you, consider a refresher course in networking techniques, resources, and best practices.

Join us for "Networking Your Way to a Job" this Friday, September 13, from 11am - 1pm in the Business and Job Center on the 3rd level at Richland Library, Main. We will talk about traditional, straightforward, practical ways to get connected and foster a positive, effective network.

Until then, check out these Networking Tips!

Know Thyself!

Take time to identify your strengths and what separates you from the pack. What do you offer? What product, service, skill, personality, or experience differentiates you? Are your skills up-to-date and in demand? When a networking opportuntity arises, you want to be ready to tell your story.

Target your Audience, Target your Efforts

You can’t be all things to all people and you can’t meet everyone at once. Think strategically about who will be in the best position to be your job search advocate or ally. Don’t waste your time or energy on dead ends.

Ask not what you can GET but what you can DO!

Remember, networking is not about what you want to get but what you can give. Go into networking opportunities with a mindset that you are there to serve, learn, and connect. Don't ask outright for a job opportunity. Instead, become a go-to guy or gal, an expert in your field, and a solutions finder.

Create Networking Cards

You don’t have to be currently employed to have a business card! Include your contact information, LinkedIn URL, online presence, and personal brand statement.

Be informed! Be the Expert!

Share your expertise on professional social networks and blogs (by contributing content or commenting on the posts of others.) Look for opportunities to share your expertise in person.

If you ask a question, listen and learn!

When one of your contacts makes a suggestion, gives advice, critiques your work, or answers a question you posed, be sure to actively listen and take the advice to heart.

Branch out and Never Stop Networking

Always be on the lookout for new networking opportunities. Don’t expect one group to meet all of your needs. Include a wide cross-section of people in your network.

Follow-up and Follow-through

Don’t just follow-up immediately, keep good notes and records so you can continue to stay in contact every few weeks or months. If you offered a service or resource, be sure you send it right away. Keep your word and deliver on your promises.

Where to look for networking opportunities:

Professional Associations

Gain instant access to other professionals who may work for or have contacts within companies you want to join. Get involved! Offer your expertise, comment on posts, volunteer for events, serve on committees, research the association, and be seen as a contributor.

  • JobHunt.Org: http://www.job-hunt.org/associations.shtml
  • SCiWay: http://www.sciway.net/org/prof.html
  • Richland Library: http://www.richlandlibrary.com/services/clubs-organizations
  • Yahoo Directory: http://dir.yahoo.com/business_and_economy/organizations/professional
  • Trade Groups/Industry-specific conferences or social events

    Use Google to find local networking events in your industry. Look for events they’re hosting that you can attend. Meet people who speak your industry language. Volunteer to be a speaker, serve on a committee, or be a “worker bee.” Volunteering is also a great way to get in free!

    Support Groups for the Unemployed or Underemployed

    Join Richland Library's Career Encore Support and Networking Group that meets the first Thursday of every month from 9:30-11:30 in the Auditorium. It's the perfect place to be encouraged and empowered in your career search.

    Alumni associations

    Many alumni-relations offices will offer an online member database, which might allow you to search for old friends by name, class or even employer.

    Community and Civic Meetings

    Become an active member or non-member with local civic organizations like the chamber of commerce. Attend meetings, lectures, or special presentations. Get involved, meet the mover and shakers, and get an inside perspective on what’s happening in your geographical area and career field.

    Informal networking

    Strike up a conversation while standing in line at the bus stop, bank or grocery store. You may be surprised by the amount of jobs found through this type of informal meeting.

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