As you continue your job search, good networking is a skill that you can continually hone and sharpen. Thankfully, there are numerous resources to help job seekers do so. In reality, your network as a job seeker is unlimited. If you take time to think about your professional network, how many contacts can you come up with? Each of these individuals is a lead to a job or job-related advice. If you factor in the people each of your individual contacts are also connected to, and how many individuals those people are connected to, you’ll realize that your network could grow infinitely!
As job seekers, here are a few resources that may be available in your area to broaden your network of professional contacts:
Local Professional Groups: In many areas there are organized groups of professionals that gather on a regular basis to meet new people, stay in touch, and grow their own network. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or search online to find such a group and get plugged in! Often, these groups are geared toward individuals in different areas of professional development and career. There may be professional groups for young professionals, individuals just joining the workforce, or specific fields such as Business or Communications.
Professional Organizations: Professionals also join official groups within their industry. In addition to local groups, there are organizations which bring professionals from all over the country- possibly all over the world- together for conferences, retreats, and seminars. For some of these, you must be a member to join, but often for a fee you can sign up for individual events and enjoy the benefits of exclusive time with professionals in your industry. There are always perks for being a member, but as an observer you can go for information, experience, and to meet people who could help spark your career.
Job Fairs: This is a great place for job seekers to meet contacts during their job search. At job fairs, you can take advantage of the fact that companies and organizations are there looking for bright job seekers with potential just like you! Bring resumes, business cards, your smiling face, and go fearlessly. Introduce yourself to people and ask for contact information. Be honest about what kind of job you’re looking for but be open to new possibilities.
Social Networking: Lots of companies and their employees are active on social media, whether through a Facebook page, Twitter account, or business blog. Job seekers today should be be active in searching out and “liking,” re-tweeting, or commenting on the various outlets of social media from companies they’re interested in. Also available are websites such as LinkedIn, which is designed to help you connect with other professionals. You can also use LinkedIn to join virtual professional groups like the ones discussed above.
Internships: Internships provide you with multiple resources to help your networking and your job search after the internship has ended. Not only do you gain job experience, but you gain valuable contacts within an industry that can help you with recommendations, career advice, and potentially connect you with others in the industry.
It is the responsibility of job seekers to be informed and active about networking resources as they search. Developing a wide network of professional contacts can help you immensely on your way to a great job!
How do you increase your networking pool? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by sjcockell