5 In-Person Networking Tips for Job Seekers
Maybe you were laid off last fall and are still looking for a new job. Or, perhaps you have set a goal for the new year of finding a better career opportunity. Either way, you can’t expect the next great career move to fall into your hands while you are aimlessly reviewing online job boards. In fact, most people still find a new job by word-of-mouth and via people they know. Before you click on that next link, check out these in-person networking tips:
Consider joining a professional association.
In almost any field of work, there is a professional association associated with it. In general terms, the association promotes certifications (if any) for the industry, annual meetings, and events for members. If you are passionate about your industry and know that you want to be in this career field for the foreseeable future, a professional association is a fantastic way to get-to-know other prominent individuals both locally and beyond.
Visit a local chamber of commerce or networking group.
Almost every city—no matter the size—has a chamber of commerce, economic development organization, and other networking groups. Joining one of these groups gives you an opportunity to discover referral partners. These are people that aren’t necessarily in the same industry as you but may know people in your industry. In addition, they tend to be well-connected in the community and know job opportunities ahead of the general public.
Schedule a coffee or lunch date once per week.
Everyone has to eat and generally takes a break during week days. When you are actively looking for new work, consider reaching out to past team members, industry colleagues, or community connections and invite that person to coffee or lunch. By doing this once per week, you will start seeing the benefits of getting to know people better and more in-depth than just in a quick chat at an event. Be strategic about who you ask and how you fill your schedule. Ask those people that you know are discreet (if you are being discreet in your job search) or inquire with the people that you know are well-versed in employment in your field (if you are an active job seeker).
Always remain professional.
When you are looking for a job, first impressions are absolutely everything. As simple as it sounds, it is vital that you represent yourself professionally at events, dress appropriately for your industry, and offer valuable input during conversations. Think about why an employer would hire you and be certain that your connections know this after meeting you.
Be proactive and build your network before you need it.
If your company closes, you are laid off, or a big market hit has taken your industry by surprise, it will be vital that you find a new job as quickly as possible. In this situation, it is ideal to have your established network cultivated before you need it. Obviously, this isn’t something that happens overnight and takes time. The point is to not get comfortable with any particular industry or position. Be ready with a stable of connections if and when you need them.
Have you ever head the saying, ‘Don’t burn your bridges?” When you are job searching, this is completely true. Do not bad-mouth former employers, try to maintain amicable relationships with past co-workers, and be positive during networking events. Most importantly, eliminate the sole focus on online job searching and learn how to be present for those vital in-person connections, too.
This guest post was authored by Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish
Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, has been working with job seekers since 2008 to develop forward-thinking, eye-catching, and dynamic resumes for today’s marketplace. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has written thousands of resume for clients in a variety of fields. Dr. Rothbauer-Wanish has a BBA in Management, an MBA, and a PhD in Organization and Management.