If you are clever at small-talk, have the confidence to insert a positive personal story that almost fits into a conversation, and can manage to sound smart when discussing news, business, and sports, you are a good networker. If you prefer to talk to people you know, don’t know how to keep a conversation going in an uncomfortable situation, and don’t like the pressure of always being “on,” then you my friend, are NORMAL!
Whether you love to network or hate to network, your career just might depend on it. “Networking” in the professional context, means talking and relating to people for the sake of improving your career. But guess what? Your best network is the people you already know!
I have had 7 jobs in 20 years (large and small companies, several you have heard of), and 5 of the 7 jobs would not have happened if it weren’t for my friends. Here are the 7 jobs, and who got me the “in” I needed to land an interview.
- IT Consultant – My sister, and my best friend’s wife were both employed at my targeted employer. They got my resume to hiring managers.
- Process Manager – A friend that I met during my first job left and got a new job at a new company. He told me about the role and got me in the door.
- Product Manager – Someone I barely knew from a co-ed 4-person beach volleyball league.
- Product Manager – Monster.com. Yep, no help on this one. But my resume worked now that I had “Product Manager” on it.
- Regional Director – High School friend I had kept in touch with and hounded about jobs over the years. He finally came through.
- Project Manager – CareerBuilder.com. Yep, no help. Miracles do happen.
- Product Strategy Director – Someone from a parent-company that I was in training with for 5 days. During training he was impressed with me (so don’t act like a clown during training–you never know who could be of help to you later).
The key for me was that I let everyone mentioned above know I was looking for work, and what kind of work might be good for me.
When I was “in between jobs” do you know what kept me sharp, gave me confidence, and helped me practice those uncomfortable conversations with strangers? Job networking groups. Guess how many job offers I got through a networking group? Zero! Would I go to one again, and did I see it help other people get jobs? Absolutely.
Look for groups like this one:
Consider clubs and groups for employed individuals. People with jobs are better at helping people get jobs!
Join your local Rotary club.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce
But most importantly, network with friends, family, and family friends!
Written By: Dan Morchower, Product Strategy Director – Ancora Education