The Networking Carnival - 2nd Edition!
Jason Alba at The Jibber Jobber Blog is hosting this months "Networking Carnival". He has narrowed to topic to focus on networking for job searchers:
Yikes! You just lost your job! You’ve been so busy at *work* that you don’t feel your network is as strong as you would like it to be! What are you going to do with (and to) your network in the next 6 weeks as you begin an aggresive job search campaign? And, outside of your network, what job search tactics will you employ? Or your best networking tips related to job searches.
Jason has compiled an amazing list of links to blog posts on the topic. Click here to see them all. It will take you a little while to read them all, but wow....it would be worth the time investment.
So here is my entry for this edition of the Networking Carnival:
One time I got a call from a woman who was a "friend of a friend". She had been laid off from a large computer manufacturer in Austin (rhymes with "Sell") and she was not having any luck finding new employment. Two months had passed, and with a slow job market she saw no prospects for employment. Many of her co-workers had already landed in new positions, and she discovered that all of them had found their opportunities through someone they knew.
She had not ever given any credit to "networking". In fact, she had always discredited it as "fluff" and only for people with free time. She had never believed in allowing herself any time to do anything but work, and had put in fifty to sixty hours a week in her job, convinced that if she worked hard and met her quota, she would never be laid off.
She was wrong.
Now she needed a job, and found that since nobody in town knew her, she was starting behind candidates who had an "in" for the few coveted openings.
Her networking efforts led her to asking me to coffee. Here is what happened:
1. She asked me to coffee, then made it clear that she expected me to pay since I was employed.
If you invite someone to coffee or lunch you should expect to pick up the bill. If the person offers to pay, you can decide if it is appropriate to give them the honor...but do not assume that because you are out of work that your guest should buy your lunch. You invited them to come talk about avenues that are for your benefit.
2. Realize that networking is not magic. Just because you meet someone who has a network does not mean they know of an opportunity to help you land a job.
This woman just assumed since I was well connected that I would know of an opening for someone with her expertise. She looked at having coffee with me as uncovering some mystic pool of opportunity. Not only did I not know anyone who could help her, I did not like her attitude, and thus would not have made an introduction if I did!
3. She was not grateful for my time. I had never met this woman before, and yet I spent an hour with her listening to her situation. Networking is not free therapy. She just assumed that since I was a "networker" that our time together was no big deal. She barely said "thank you" when we parted (this might have been because I had no job in my pocket), and I never recieved a thank you note, email, or follow up phone call. I have never seen her again.
If you are going to be serious about networking to help you find your next job you need to start before you become unemployed! However, if you are starting late, you need to realize that building a network takes time. If you do meet someone with a large network, be respectful that it is their network (not yours), and do not expect them to just introduce you (a stranger) to important people that they know.
Finally, in your job hunt ALWAYS be thankful (very thankful!) to anyone who talks with you about your quest. People are more likely to help someone who is genuinely grateful than someone who just expects help from the rest of the planet.
Have A Great Day.