Any successful job searcher will tell you that the job was attained by networking. By contacting friends, colleagues and former classmates, one can find openings in the hidden job market. After an opening is found, the job seeker reaches out to contacts within the company to walk a resume in, put in a good word with the hiring manager, and any other action needed to get hired.
There are many ways people network. Contacting the above mentioned people individually or by attending special networking activities are the usual ways people make contact. Networking events are not all alike. Some are strictly intended to make contacts, like Speed Networking. Others mix job hunting with networking such as career fairs. However, some can be just plain fun from start to finish.
Recently the Pressed for Success group had a great networking event. This networking event disguised within a barbeque called the “Company Picnic” attendees connected with as many as they could. Each guest was given a sheet of paper that listed titles and companies of each one of the Pressed for Success members. This exercise involved getting to know another and finding out past occupations and organizations. Instead staying within the confines of those the sit next to or friends they brought, members had to extend themselves to seek out all others. By stepping out of their comfort zone, they discovered more about the people they meet with every week.
Each Monday evening, members gather to network but never really get to know their fellow job seekers. Sure they share job search tips and learn the places others are interviewing at, but they don’t know each other’s background. By providing the group with a fun evening featuring good food and fun, they were open to the possibilities that networking holds. By looking at the LinkedIn sites of the members, I was able to find out their former positions and companies to include for the listing. Many didn’t recognize their past position. Since the list was not alphabetically arranged it took some effort to find their names. A few thought they were left off the list.
During the course of the evening, new contacts were made. While eating, members were working diligently to fill in all the blanks. By sharing a meal they found out more about what they have to offer each other. All in all the members enjoyed themselves and discovered more about the people they spend time with on a weekly basis. Although they try to get to know each other every week, this was an opportunity to meet more of the members. Weekly attendance can range from 20 to 25 people; this event was attended by 37 members. Improving the number of possibilities for making that all important contact.
Two immediate results of the evening were one member offered the spare room in her home which is located half way between work and home to another who is facing a long commute for a temporary position; another member found a contact at a company she is desperately hoping to work for. These two contacts were made right then and there. Who knows what else will come of this event.
Success is defined in different ways by different people. Whether it is learning about an opening in a company or finding a place to stay, one thing that is for sure success is helped by networking.