By Melissa Walker
As a career coach, I always advise individuals not to put all their focus sitting at home applying online. My advice is to get out and network and submit your resume online on your phone during breaks in the day. Networking is an essential task of looking for a new career. While there Is much to be said about networking in general, this article focuses on individuals looking for a new opportunity who attend networking events.
I volunteer to speak at networking groups created to help job seekers find new opportunities. As I have attended these events, I notice that often I see the same faces at these meetings month after month. It would seem that these are individuals with no real skills, but that is not the case. I see great talent week after week at networking events. In most cases, not only are they great talent, but they also are the most social and helpful at the meetings. So why is it that these people have not yet found a career? Let me share a few tips on how to network effectively, so you never find yourself in the position of being a “networking lifer.”
Where to network
In most large cities you can find great career help groups. In Dallas, we have CareerDFW.org with an expansive list of groups and meetings individuals can attend for free. In addition to career search groups, it is important to also participate in the meetings with working professionals. Why? People working many times know about position openings in their organizations, and they can refer you to their company.
The old saying, “Preparation is key,” is not to be forgotten. Prepare your “why” and have a focus. Make sure you have identified the top companies and roles you are interested in pursuing. If you can not tell people what you need, they can not help you find it. The worst thing an individual searching for a career can say, “well, I am good at almost anything.” To a stranger, that doesn’t help them help support you. Remember, be clear with your ask.
The conversation is the key to success in finding the right connections in a networking meeting. When you are a person with a varied work history, it is important to understand the needs of the other person before just telling every little detail about your background. I like to use the term SLANT to describe how to hold a networking conversation.
S- Start with them
L- Listen to their needs
A- Ask open-ended questions
N- narrow down pain points
T- tell them how you can potentially meet their needs
SLANT allows you to understand how you can add value to another person. Much better than throwing noodles at the wall to see if they stick.
Imagine if everyone who attended a career search networking group came with an agenda to help others find a career. If everyone introduced someone in the room to three people they knew, the group wouldn’t exist because everyone would be employed. While you always need to focus on getting your career, ensure you also go with a motivation to help others. It’s about reciprocity or paying it forward. It all comes full circle.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure you follow through with anything you have offered to do for someone. Send a thank you email to the people and employers you meet. Stay top of mind. Remember, you are asking something from complete strangers. It is not their duty to remember you. It is your role to remind them about you.
Remember, the only one responsible for your success is you. Understanding that it is a job to find the right career is vital to your success. When you do find a new opportunity, it is always a good idea to continue to support the groups that helped you – you never know when you might need them again.
Get help for your career search today by the EXPERTS at NextCareer today! Find out more at http://www.nextcareerconsulting.com or call 972-729-9181.
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