With the advent of the internet, job boards, smart phones, iPads, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, the fundamentals of seeking a new job opportunity have dramatically changed. Whether you are looking for your first job after graduation, currently between jobs or working (but not satisfied) it's important to master current technologies in order to take the next step-up on your career ladder. However, clicking, emailing, texting and posting comments are not the only methods of connecting with your future employer.
To increase the likelihood of a great outcome while searching for new career opportunities, consider using social media to "work the net" and network face to face. One of the best ways to network is to attend networking events. In my 29 years as a recruiter (pre and post internet) I can assure you that it's rare that anyone gets hired without a positive face-to-face encounter (yes, even despite all the technology brought to us by the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Al Gore).
The most common reasons for not attending networking events include:
- Concerns of associated costs
- Lack of time
- Lack of self confidence
- Limited prior success
These excuses are far outweighed by the positive results you'll achieve if you consider a strategic approach to the networking process. So, prepare to get out of your comfort zone and meet real-life people (in person) who can possibly change your professional life.
To network successfully, proper preparation and planning is essential. Here are a few key points:
- Preparation Tip: Identify the “where and when” of events you'd like to attend – have a goal in mind of why you’re looking to attend events. Each event should be specific to your field of interest and expertise and proximate to where you live/work to cut costs. Many events are publicized via the internet, groups and associations and even in local print media. If reservations are required, register in advance and plan on arriving early.
- Preparation Tip: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current, complete and attractive before the event. It’s likely your soon-to-be connections will check you out online in real time.
- Planning Tip: Try to make connections before the actual event via email, LinkedIn or Twitter (see I do encourage technology!). If you know in advance that certain people will be in attendance and you are able to connect beforehand, you will feel more confident going into the event. A good idea is to search for whether the event has a group or discussion forum on LinkedIn or a Twitter event #Hashtag to see who is in attendance.
- Planning Tip: If networking for business, consider attending with a colleague to optimize and really work the room, but plan on not spending too much time together once you arrive. The strategy is to divide and conquer; you can compare notes with colleagues afterwards.
Stay tuned for the next installment where we’ll discuss how to successfully execute your networking plan.
Part 1 of 2 Part Series.
Next article- Networking Tips: Execute and Follow up (Part II)