Being in a job search is a hard and sometimes depressing task, but it’s important to try to enjoy the process. Having a positive attitude can make all the difference! Now you ask, “How can I maintain a positive attitude during a long, frustrating job search?” The answer is positive networking!
Don’t waste your time and energy on mainstream job boards, newspaper ads, internet searches or just the word of mouth techniques, get off your butt and meet new people! While I don’t recommend giving up on the time tested methods listed above, I know that networking is the best way to use your precious time during your job search.
Do you ever go to the movies without knowing what you want to see? If you do, then networking should be relatively easy for you. You head in with no preconceived notions and are open to whatever happens. This may be an overly simplistic analogy, but it nonetheless, is a real truism for what networking is at it’s core. Go in positive and see what happens.
The key to employment networking is to build mutually beneficial relationships, expand your professional contacts and try to assist others along the way. The contacts and relationships you establish may provide industry advice, other contacts or the backdoor entry to your next great job. The steps below will help get you on your way, but only time and practice will make you a networking expert.
Pre-Networking Event/Meeting Check-List:
• Build a list of your target companies, specific positions or job titles, and key people within those businesses/industries that you are most interested in.
• Have a defined USP, ES or PBS (Unique Selling Proposal/Elevator Speech/Personal Branding Statement). that describes who you are, what you do better than anyone else, and what value you would bring to your new employer.
• Have a personal business card, minimal information is better, that gives the reader a notion of who you are, what you do and how to contact you. Leave the back as blank as possible for note taking by those you meet. DO NOT hand them out like candy on Halloween – only give them to those who seem truly interested or have offered you one or asked for one specifically ~ then give them out on the 1 for 2 basis. If someone offers you one, ask for two in case you meet someone that they should meet – it builds trust and credibility right from the start.
1) Listen to Those You Converse With ~ Really Listen
Offer VALUE to your contacts beyond this one meeting. This is Paramount. You must listen like you are on a first date, before you ask about questions regarding your own self interests. Listening will not only present you as polite and professional, but also it will allow you to find out the speaker’s wants and needs. By using critical listening and deciphering the missing elements, you may construct a model in the minds of your contacts of what you can do that will match their needs or the needs of someone they know.
2) The Initial Meeting is Step One ~ Stay In Contact ~ Keep the Channels Open
After your initial meeting/event, stay in touch with your contacts on a scheduled basis. I recommend every three to four weeks you find a reason to e-mail them. Keep up on industry news that may be of interest to you and them and hopefully, the notes you took on the back of your contacts’ business cards (see pre-networking info above) will pay off. If you don’t’ already do this, make sure you start! No one can remember everything about everyone they meet at one networking event, let alone, all networking scenarios you go through or encounter. Taking memorable notes on jargon, business info and some personal (kids, spouse, birthdays), will help you create a personalized and tailored follow-up which will put you several steps ahead of any other networkers in contact with this person.
Use your digital technology and social media skills in your correspondence. If you find an article, podcast, or video you think might interest your contacts, make sure you send it their way. Tweet out information on this person to your followers. Pin items of interest to your Pinterest Wall. This is a great way to keep yourself fresh in their minds, show that you aren’t resting on your current skill sets, and again, you will be adding value to the relationship!
3) Research Is The Key To The Gateway
Do your research and then some on everyone you know who will be in attendance or who you will meet one-on-one on their personal/professional blogs, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn profiles so you can ask pointed and focused questions about their career, interests and specialties. This effort will reflect well on your part, and will almost certainly persuade your contacts to continue building relationships with you throughout the whole process.
Eventually, once your relationship is on solid ground with this contact, you feel like you have added value, and they seem ready to reciprocate, it’s time for you to ask for a call to action. Ask your contact if they know of anyone from your target list of organizations to work for, or even better, if they know of someone else you should talk to. Continue this process with all of your contacts and soon your network will be large, diverse and strong enough to help you leverage your way into a new position.
Dedication to the search and genuine interest in others are important. Stay positive and focused. Remember your manners and don’t slip into bad or general habits. Be the BEST version of you that you can be whenever you are in contact with, talking to or corresponding with networking contacts. The old phrase goes ~
“You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression.”
Make it a great one and you’ll do fine!