Networking. We’re all told it’s important to do, and yet just the thought of it strikes dread in the hearts of many job-seekers. Attending professional events. Schmoozing. Joining associations. Handing out business cards. Rubbing elbows with strangers. It’s not for everybody. But even if you don’t feel comfortable pursuing the usual networking routes, there are still options that can help you uncover those hidden jobs we hear so much about.
If you don’t feel at ease with groups, consider reaching out via email. Without leaving your home or office, you can connect with dozens of folks who can become part of your job search team. You’ll probably find that most people are willing to keep their eyes and ears open for you. And often they can help introduce you to people who have jobs to fill or who know of employers who do.
I witnessed the value of networking recently in my own life. My young friend, I’ll call him Jim, phoned and asked for my help updating his resume. Although he’s a very successful golf professional, he’s decided to strike out and try something new.
One of the fields that interest him is event planning. About 10 days after finding out about Jim’s desire to switch careers, I had lunch with a friend. She talked about a colleague of hers, I’ll call her Sue, and said that Sue is often involved with high-profile events. Of course, I immediately thought of Jim. As an added bonus, Sue is extremely well-connected to athletes from several well-known teams. Did I mention that Jim is passionate about sports? Of course, the light bulbs began exploding in my brain, and after learning a bit more about Sue, I asked my friend if she’d be willing to forward Jim’s resume to her. She agreed.
The result? Within 3 days, Jim’s resume had been forwarded by me to my friend and then to Sue, and Sue had emailed back to invite Jim to her town for a big fund-raising event. She would supply the tickets for the event and, with it, the networking opportunities of a lifetime! What a great outcome – and all as the result of a casual conversation and a few emails.
So don’t fear networking opportunities – embrace them. Find the mode of networking that feels good to you – whether it’s email, phone conversations, social media, or attending events -- and let others know what type of work you’re looking for and the skills you have to offer. Chances are you too will be pleasantly surprised by how painless networking can be – and where it can take you!