Networking or Not Working

The best way to find a job in a good job market or a tough one is through networking. Networking is defined as:

an extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.

With that said, networking does not always have to be for personal benefit. Someone who uses networking effectively knows that building good relationships through networking will result in personal benefit, but it does not always have to be the initial intent.

According to an old axiom, the average person knows 62,000 people. The more active you are in life, the more people you know. Many career changers don’t realize how many contacts they have made over the years that could in turn really benefit them in a job search. However, even though a person making a career change has many contacts there usually are two common complaints job seekers typically mention.

1. Not knowing where to network

2. Not knowing how to network

The first problem can be solved easily. Almost every industry has a professional organization or non-profit that is focused on offering assistance to professionals working in a particular industry.

For example, if you are working in the technology industry, an organization called the Pittsburgh Technology Council exists to help regional technology companies succeed. A by product of their efforts gives job seekers a chance to network with fellow technology industry workers nearly 140 events every year. Most of these events are educational in nature, but some of them are strictly social. If you are looking to work in the technology industry attending events where technology professionals will be can be a very beneficial experience.

The same can be said of the marketing, human resources, engineering, accounting, finance, life sciences and many other industries. These industries all have professional or trade groups working on their behalf to help them succeed.

The second complaint deals with not knowing how to network. The following is a quick and simple rule to follow for networking. If you are attending a networking or professional event, use this guide to help you start to develop personal relationships through the art of casual conversation.

Family
Does a new acquaintance you just met have kids? Is he or she married? Where do they live? What school do their kids attend?, etc.

Occupation
Where do they work? What do they do there? How long have they worked there?

Recreation
Do they like sports? Where did they recently go on vacation? Do they attend Pirate or Steelers games? etc.

Message
Why are they attending this event? Are they selling something? And what bit of information are they trying to get other people to know about them?

This system, entitled FORM, is a great way to start any conversation with anyone at any event.

If you remember nothing else remember this: 80 percent of jobs are filled via networking. Since so many of the jobs are filled through networking, it doesn’t matter if you are just graduating from college or if you have been in the workforce for 20 years; having an extensive network of contacts will only benefit you in your job search.

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