by Rachel Vilsack
Networking is important part of the job search process. It can help you learn inside information about jobs that are being created or not advertised. Everybody networks — at school, church, social activities, work, and online. Remember that networking is not the same as asking for a job, so you can do it anywhere. Usually your networking contacts will not be potential employers, but the connections you make with others with shared interests just might lead to an opportunity tomorrow. Since it’s starting to feel like spring – and soon summer – it made me think: what are some examples of Spring and Summer networking opportunities?
With warmer weather in the forecast, there will be new occasions to network. Here are some examples:
- Meet your neighbors – When I moved into a new neighborhood two years ago I made it a point to ask my new neighbors what they did for a living and where they worked. Are you new to your neighborhood? Or get a new neighbor over the summer? Spring is a great time to say hello and start building your neighborhood network!
- Outdoor sports events – If you have kids, nieces/nephews, or friends who play outdoor sports this summer, consider striking up a conversation on the sidelines or in the stands…while you’re cheering your team to victory!
- Concerts, festivals, art fairs and craft shows – I’ve been to several craft-related events this month where I met artists and fellow craft enthusiasts. Events around a shared interest are a great place to grow your network.
- Vacation – Wherever you vacation this summer, you never know if the person you meet at a neighboring campsite or on a tourist excursion might lead to a future connection. Start with a friendly and relaxing conversation (you are, after all, on vacation!) and consider staying in touch with the person by email or social networking sites, like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Before you begin networking, think about what you want to say to others about yourself, and what you want to know from them.
- What kind(s) of job(s) are you looking for?
- What skills and experience prepared you for these jobs?
- Are you focused on a particular industry?
- Do you want to find a job at a particular company?
- Do you want to look for jobs within certain geography?
Networking is about helping other people as much as it is about getting people to help you. A reputation as a helpful networker goes a long way. The more you can help others with job leads and career advice, the more willing people will be to help you in return.
Happy spring and happy networking!