A recent article on iVillage combated the belief that it’s difficult to make new friends as an adult. When considered from the perspective of a job seeker, learning to make new friends is not unlike learning to make new contacts for networking. With some adaptations for the job hunt, here are five opportunities to make new networking contacts that you may not have previously considered.
The dreaded class reunion
Think about it. It’s been five, maybe ten years since you’ve been in the same room with these clowns. The chances are good that they’re not all clowns anymore, and the chances are also good that some of them have achieved a relative amount of success in their careers. Some of them can be really great networking contacts. Harness the potential in the room by swallowing the unpleasant memories of your awkward high school years and starting fresh.
Our lives wouldn’t be complete without another sort of reunion: family reunions. The advantages are similar to class reunions, except that you have generations of wisdom at your disposal! Most of your family members probably have their own careers, and while you’re catching up with Uncle Willy (who has worked in accounting for the last twenty years but has had to make a recent transition because of unfortunate downsizing), ask him about his job search and the people he’s looking to for advice. Hopefully because they’re family, they’ll be willing to grant you a favor.
We’ve touched on this before, but volunteer opportunities can help build your network as well. This point may not be entirely enlightening, but consider where you are volunteering and focus your efforts. If you’re a writer, maybe volunteer to write a newsletter. If you’re savvy with sales, maybe volunteer to help a local organization with their holiday fundraiser. This could help you make new contacts and even boost your resume for future job applications.
Employ the “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” method.
Remember that this isn’t your first day at the rodeo and you already have a network built. You are a wealth of information! If you come across a fellow job seeker looking to expand their network, lend a helping hand and offer then some contacts or networking advice. You can ask them to return the favor by connecting you with some of their professional contacts.
Start something yourself.
If there is a disconcerting lack of available opportunities for a certain sub-set of people in your area, i.e. young professional, female professionals, professionals who like to knit on the weekends, start something yourself! There are numerous ways to reach out and find these people– through social media or word-of-mouth to name a few. By creating your own group or starting a new event, either online or in person, you’ve just broadened your network.
Ultimately it’s up to you, the job seeker, to be creative about building a network. There are some tried and true methods of professional networking, but it pays to be prepared for any opportunity to make new contacts- even in the most unlikely of situations.
In what ways do you work on building your network? What networking opportunities come your way? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Mel B.