Work it at the networking event! Networking is something that scares many people. Having to talk to strangers and trying to sell yourself or your services to them can be intimidating. Networking is one of the most valuable tools you can use in your job search. Keep in mind, that when networking, you are not demanding a job from the person. Networking is all about gathering information about job fields, forming relationships with professionals, finding referrals to hiring managers, and if you are lucky—when a job comes up, your contact may recommend you! With the economy as it is these days, it is very difficult to find a job, apply for it, and get it right away. A more effective way of getting your foot in the door is to network with employers or people that have connections to employers.
Think outside the box when networking. Once, I vacationed at a Bed and Breakfast and I met a woman at breakfast who worked in the same field I did; she referred me to a job opening! You never know where your next contact or job will be. Here are some other unlikely places you might consider:
- There is the infamous job fair
- Community events: health fairs, concerts, etc.
- The place where you volunteer: don’t forget to tell them you are looking for work, otherwise, they will never know
- Where you attend school
- Trade shows
- Wherever employers gather, such as business mixers or fundraising events
Here are the essentials for “working it” at a networking event:
- Make business cards! I know what you are thinking, “I’m not working, so how can I have a business card?” However, think of it this way, if you don’t, how will employers contact you? So, what your card really is, is information for your contact to remember you by.
- You definitely want your name, phone number, email address
- Also, add a “job title,” such as, “Enthusiastic Sales Representative” or “Inspired Web Designer.”
- Other things you might want to consider adding are your top 5 reasons someone would want to hire you, your education, special recognitions, or projects you’ve completed.
- You are ‘selling’ yourself, just like a resume, except this is a 4-lined resume!
- Give yourself a goal. For your first event, try talking to two or three employers. Don’t feel like you have to accomplish everything in one day. Do what’s comfortable. This is a learning experience, and the more you do it, the better you will become.
- Practice. Practice how you will present yourself the days before your event. Make sure to have a basic script, and try not to veer off it too much. You want to be consideration of their time, but you want your time to be effective. Employers appreciate people who value their time.
- Follow up. Hey, the employers spent time with you, and with any luck, you made a good impression. Don’t stop now! Within 48 hours of the event, you need to follow up with him or her and ‘remind’ them of who you are. You can briefly state your appreciation for the opportunity to chat with them, reiterate or restate what you discussed with them, and tell them your next step, such as, “I would love an opportunity to meet with you again regarding this career field, would you have some time next week to discuss that with me?” Always be polite, and professional. If you are emailing, use spell check, and NO slang (sorry, no “LOL”, either). If you leave a phone message, clearly speak your name and number.
Good luck! Remember to bring your business cards with you everywhere; you never know where your next networking event will be!