Let’s face it. Networking is not easy. It requires putting yourself out there, meeting new people, and facing some rejection. But it’s also one of the best ways to land a new job.
There are lots of websites and career advice manuals that can help you get started, but knowing how hard networking has been for me and considering how many times I’ve turned to networking after a layoff or career change, I wanted to offer my (relatively) pain free guide.
1. Networking events
Networking events are a lot like speed dating. Everyone there is looking to meet someone and you have to go in expecting you might not find a match. These lunch hour or after work events are usually held somewhere fun and require a little guts and a stack of business cards. Events I’ve found helpful are Catapult Seacoast, Pecha Kucha Portsmouth and the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours.”
Catapult Seacoast is an organization aimed at helping young people advance their career. I’ve met grad students looking for job prospects after they finish their thesis and tech managers working the room looking for candidates for a new job opening at their company. Everyone there is friendly, so going up to a group of people and introducing yourself usually results in an opportunity to share why you’re there. The most popular Catapult event is Catapult Connects, held the second Wednesday of every month at rotating restaurants throughout the Seacoast. They also have lunch hour events and other activities, including opportunities to get involved in local charities.
Business After Hours is, like the name would suggest, an after work event held at rotating venues on the fourth Thursday of every month. Here you’ll meet people at every level of their career in a wide range of fields. This is a great opportunity to pick people’s brains about their careers, and perhaps learn about a job opening or internship that isn’t being advertised. Don’t be afraid to go solo. Most people love talking about their jobs. But bringing along a job-searching friend to play wing man can also be helpful when you’re struggling to keep the conversation going. Just make sure you’re both meeting new people.
Pecha Kucha, pronounced Pu-CHA Koo-CHA, is an event where presenters bring 20 slides and have 20 seconds to explain each slide. Topics range from architecture to the arts, from farming to preserving history. People from many different backgrounds come and it’s a great way to learn about new fields and meet people passionate about their work.
2. Social Media
Pretty much everyone is on LinkedIn these days, and it can be helpful in letting people know your experience and what kind of jobs you’re interested in. Make sure you’re job information is up to date and typo free, kind of no brainers. If you’re looking for a marketing job, message some people currently working in the field and ask them about their jobs, or post a story about the 10 best ways to boost your inbound marketing. This shows people you are engaged in your field, regardless of your job status.
While LinkedIn gets all the job-searching hype, I’ve found Facebook to be a huge help, especially post-layoff. Suddenly losing your job can be super embarrassing, but posting a professional status update about moving on from your company lets people know you’re looking for job hunting tips. I was offered my most recent job after starting a Facebook page for my freelance writing company. I sent messages to my work-related friends asking them to like my page and a few hours later got a call for an interview.
Just remember, no one likes mass emails. If you’re going to specifically ask someone in your professional life to help you out via Facebook, send them a private message. Or better yet, just use email.
3. Hit up your friends
After college, it took me a while to find a “real” job and as a result I lost touch with some of my friends who went immediately into the 9-5 world. These people are still your friends and are already working, so why not ask them how they did it? They may have heard of an opening at a competitor or know someone who helped them revamp their resume. At best, you get a new job lead. At worst, you had a nice afternoon catching up with a friend over coffee.
4. And everything else
When you’re job hunting, there’s a lot of time spent on the computer trying to figure out how to GET IN somewhere. I’ve known people who got job leads through volunteering and from emailing people within the companies where they wanted to work, asking for some free career advice. While I’ve had limited success doing this, others have and may be worth a try. You can also look at Stay Work Play’s professional network guide for a networking event near you and start there. It never hurts to get out there.