If you are a job seeker, you’ve probably read that networking is essential to finding a new job opportunity. “Is this for real?” I get asked this a lot by clients who are reluctant to network. Sometimes, people find it difficult to socialize outside of work because of family obligations, but sometimes, it’s just hard to move beyond the security of the people they already know.
Not many are like my client, Bob, (name changed to protect the innocent) whose DISC report came back saying, “Strangers are just friends Bob hasn’t met yet.” Needless to say, not many people are as gregarious as he is. Regardless of how extroverted or introverted you are, it is important to network.
Why? Because it will dramatically improve your chances of being hired. According to CareerXRoads 2011 Source of Hire Report , referrals make up the highest percentage of external hires at 27.5%. With job boards at 24.9%, you’ll more than double your chances of getting that new job by using your network, too. Why not boost it up even higher, by expanding it?
But do you wonder how to do this? If you are procrastinating on networking, because you’re struggling to figure out where to meet new people, then these resources will help.
Meetup.com – Why not make it easy to network? Join a group with people that have the same interests as you. Meetup has activities in most major cities, from hikers and runners, to dog-lovers, to stepmoms over 50. You can find a group where you’ll feel right at home with like-minded folks that will soon become your friends.
Eventbrite – You may have used Eventbrite to register for a meeting or class, but did you know you can search for other events in your city on the site? Another example of networking with people who have similar interests.
Facebook Events – I was never part of the popular crowd in school. But, now I’ve got 700+ friends. I get invited to so many events on FB, I could never attend them all. If I were in a job search, this would be super helpful, and I’d make going to them a priority. Why? Because these are people I already know, who will introduce me to other people they know. Plus, going to a specific event can provide a starting point to conversation. Going to a Facebook event, then continuing the event with photos and posts online afterward is a great way to strengthen relationships and begin new ones!
Toastmasters – If you like the idea of learning new skills while you network, then Toastmasters might be for you. For a jobseeker, Toastmasters is perfect, because public speaking skills can be used for interviewing. Most cities have several chapters, so you can pick the best time of day or side of town for you. I’ve found my fellow Toastmasters to be some of the most welcoming, helpful people — just the kind of folks you want to know when you’re in a job search!
Last, but not least, there’s:
LinkedIn– Being involved in Groups on LinkedIn can help you to find great in-person networking events. Now that they discontinued their less-than-popular Events app, you have to keep an eye out, going to each group individually to scope out what’s happening. But it’s worth it to meet new people and get the inside scoop on who might be hiring through your professional network.
Since people hire people they know, it’s important for you to see them face-to-face. In-person networking can give you that referral you need, new ideas, new contacts, all helping you to get into that new job.
What are your favorite sites to find in-person networking events? I know there are more out there; I’d love to know your suggestions in the comments below.
Kristin S. Johnson
CARW, CCMC, COPNS, CG3C, 360Reach Analyst
Profession Direction, LLC