Networking: It is often not always what you know as much as who you know.
While on the surface this saying may seem unfair, it is often the way it is, and for good reason. In one of my previous posts, I touched briefly on the idea of networking - meeting and keeping in contact with people in related careers, in an effort to stay in "the know" when it comes to potential job openings. So, here are some tips that can help as you consider networking ideas.
How many times have you been asked by your employer if you knew anyone that you could recommend to fill an opening in your company? I know it has happened to me quite often in my field. Networking comes into play in this scenario. They are asking if you personally know of someone that has the skills to fill the position, and based on your recommendation, they would consider them for the opening. This is networking in action, and can often save the company time and effort in finding people for positions. If you already have a solid resume, the difference between you and the multitude of others in that large stack of applicants, could be simply a good reference from someone on the inside or just someone who knows the employer.
Think outside the box, and do not think you have to target just career professionals when you network. Consider almost anyone a valuable connection. It really does not hurt to reach out to everyone you know, anyone from family members, church relations, sports contacts, to former work associates, etc.. Tell them your situation and job skills, and simply ask them if they know of anyone that your skills might benefit. You really never know who might have a friend or relative in the field that they could be a reference for you.
REMINDER: If you decide to mass email everyone to get the word out, especially if you include your professional contacts in the emailing, be sure to use the BCC feature in your email so as to not let all of the addresses to your recipients show openly to the whole list. It is always a good idea to send the email to yourself, and then copy in all of your contacts into the blind carbon copy (BCC) field to protect their contact information.
Then, aide from reaching out to job blogs like this one, look into the related tech email and chat type groups. Professional networks like LinkedIn and related type sites are good places to hook in with people in related fields. When you get established in these types of professional social network sites, it is important to keep communication channels like this active, even when you are not actively looking for a position, just to keep your name out there.
While it is very common for most people to think of the interview process as only relating to when you are asked to enter a company to be considered for a position, there is another side of it you may not be considering. Many companies will allow you to set an appointment to come in and sit down with them to discuss and gather information about the company and the skills that are utilized and desired there. This is called an informational interview. Make a call, and see about reaching out to a manager or even just an employee in a position similar to your skill level. Asking them for a brief fifteen to thirty minute session is not usually a problem. Go and meet with them and inquire about the types of work done, the company in general, and the direction the company is heading in the future. Knowing this type of information can be a benefit to you in understanding what you need in your skill set to work in your local field.
Keep in mind though, this time of discussion should be focused on them and the company, and not in any way to turn into discussing a position for you, or anything with job placement. Keep it an informational gathering mission and a way of just making contacts, building relationships, and continuing the networking plan. The more people you know in the long run, the more likely your chance will be to get your name recommended for that new career you seek.
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