Successfully Navigate Your Next Networking Event (Even If You Dread Them)
After two years of virtual everything, in-person events are back. I’m headed to 2 holiday networking events this week. It’s the first time I’ll be going to a local industry event in over two years. I’m excited and a bit nervous.
Most people I talk to say they hate networking events. They feel awkward and uncomfortable. They are tired of boring conversations. And they feel like they never met anyone anyway.
If that’s you, I’m going to help you change that right now.
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE
Let’s start with attitude. A lot of people don’t like networking because they think of it as transactional. They are going to an event to ask people for help.
A better attitude, go to events to meet people, and think about how you can help them.
While walking into a room of strangers who seem to all be friends isn’t easy for most of us. There are many ways to make it easier, even fun.
How To Get The Most Out Of Networking Groups
After 2 plus years, in-person networking events are back. While you may not find pre-pandemic crowds yet, attending these events is an important part of the job-search process.
The truth is that people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. This philosophy extends when it comes to filling open positions. It’s one of the reasons that companies have employee referral programs.
It’s also one of the reasons you should have been attending virtual events, and have to ease back into in-person. There are many networking opportunities out there.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity industry events are the best way to meet your peers. Attending industry conferences is a great way to meet people at various levels from different parts of the country.
The Biggest Holiday Job Search Myth
Despite our seemingly 24/7 business culture, most job seekers think you can’t find a job during the holiday season. Even looking for work from Thanksgiving to January 1st is widely considered a waste of time.
This is a big holiday myth.
I say that from personal experience.
In 2006, when I was still working in corporate, my phone rang just as I arrived home from our company’s holiday party. Although I had applied for a few positions, I was shocked to find that someone from HR at one of them was calling to conduct a screening interview.
The conversation went well and a few days later someone else called to set up a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. The interview was scheduled during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
How To Successfully Navigate Networking Events (When You Dread Them)
People like to hire, work with, work for, etc. people they know and like. The best way to have a wide circle of people who can recommend or refer you for whatever is to have a wide circle of people who know, like, and understand the value you bring.
Networking on business and social platforms like LinkedIn and, more recently, Clubhouse is a wonderful way to expand your circle. But as in-person networking resumes, it’s time to start preparing for that as well.
For many, in-person networking events means stepping out of our comfort zone. Stepping into a room full of strangers can be a little scary. If we’re fine with that, we may not be quite sure what to do when we get there.
While reading this may not make you eager to sign up for an association dinner, mastering the following techniques can help you become more comfortable and, as a result, become a better connector.
How To Take The Nightmare Out Of Networking
You’ve probably heard that many jobs aren’t advertised. While stats indicating 70% to 80% of jobs are unadvertised are dated, most career professionals agree that the best way to land a job is through a referral.
While job board have their place, spending all your time applying to jobs online isn’t practical. Neither is expecting recruiters to contact you, even if your LinkedIn profile and other social media platforms are stellar.
While LinkedIn is still favored by recruiters, its popularity has declined. In 2018 LinkedIn dropped to 77%, down from 92% the previous year, followed by Facebook at 63% according to Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiter Nation Survey. Survey results show that 25% of recruiters are now sourcing candidates on Instagram.
Just remember, recruiters don’t work for you, they work for the employer. They are online looking for candidates to fill specific positions. More precisely, they are looking for a square peg to fit into a square hole. If you are a round peg you’re out of luck.
Don’t Rely On Job Boards To Find A Job (Do This Instead)
Job boards are not the holy grail. Yes, applying online should be part of your job search strategy. The operative word being “part.”
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is relying on online job postings to find a job.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending your day at the computer responding to job postings. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. You can do it at home wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt while watching TV.
At the end of the day, knowing you’ve applied to 30 jobs, gives you a sense of accomplishment. But, it’s a false sense of accomplishment.
The truth is, focusing on job boards isn’t the best use of your time.
It’s more effective to take a strategic, multipronged approach.
At the beginning of your job search make a list of 10 or so companies you’d like to work for. These are your Target Employers. Contact people in your network to see who can connect you with someone who works there. If the employee you connect with can get your resume in front of the hiring manager for your target position even better.
Set up Google alerts for each employer, that way you’ll be notified whenever they are in the news. Review the career section or job postings on their corporate websites, at least once a week.
As a former recruiter, I can say that almost every job I was trying to fill was listed on the company’s site. The only exceptions were “confidential” searches, generally when someone didn’t know they were being replaced.
How To Mix And Mingle Your Way Into A New Job
The holidays are one of the best times of the year for networking. So, if you’re actively looking for a job, even if you’re thinking about it, December is a great month to get out and meet people. This month, there are even more places to do this.
Begin with your office holiday party. It’s tempting to think we know the people that we work with I but if you work in a large corporation, I’ve worked in a couple, you probably don’t. There are a lot of people you are friendly with, as in your frequently exchange emails or phone calls, who you’ve never met face-to-face. Your office party is the perfect opportunity to put faces to names and, maybe, get to know your boss a little better too.
The Secret Ingredient To Networking Success
Every time I attend a networking event I run into at least one person looking for work.
Every. Single. Time.
Many of them want to make a move, some have recently lost their job, others have been unemployed for several months.
Whatever their situation, the majority are there with a friend or colleague.
This is a BIG mistake.
While networking should be part of your life (whether you’re looking or not) you’ll get a lot more out of events if you go to them alone. Here’s why.
If you go to an event with a friend or colleague, it’s likely you’ll spend most of your time with them. You’ll chat over cocktails and sit together at dinner.
Will you meet other people?
But, not nearly as many as you would meet if you went alone.
How To Avoid A Typical (Boring) Conversation
You’ve probably heard that networking is the best way to find a job. One reason is that people like to hire people they know, which expands to someone referred by someone they know.
Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable starting a conversation with a stranger. That makes it difficult to meet people at a networking event.
Unless you’re one of the first to arrive, many networking events are bustling from the moment you walk in the door. There are several groups chatting. Even worse are parties of two who seem in deep conversation.
One way to engage with a group is to stand close by and wait for an opportunity to join. Great connectors are always looking for people lurking and will invite them in to the conversation.
A more direct approach is to simply ask “Can I join you?”
I’ve never had anyone or any group say no.
6 Common Job Search Myths (And How To Shatter Them)
There’s a lot of career advice online. I’ve certainly written my share. Despite all the easily accessible career information, several myths seem to remain.
The most obvious is that the best way to find a job is to apply for as many employment ads as possible. It’s not. Spending all day working the job boards is unlikely to land you a job.
Creating a list of target employers and strategically networking your way into the company will yield better results.
Here are 6 common job search myths that continue to persist.
#1 You can’t get a job through social media.
While you may not get hired by sending a tweet, employers are increasingly turning to social media for recruiting purposes. Corporate and contingency recruiters have been on social media for years. Many post jobs on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even twitter.