While networking is a powerful tool towards helping you find a job, a lot of people are intimated to actually go out into the world to network. Many people fear having to go out and meet new people because it takes preparation and it may involve rejection. Additionally, it can sometimes feel like you have to have conversations with twenty people that legitimately can’t help you to finally find one person that can.
Why You Should Network
Despite all of these factors, I strongly suggest that you make job networking a key piece of your strategy in finding a job. Networking is an extremely powerful career development tool no matter what career level you are at. A recent survey found that 85% of open jobs are filled via networking. The great thing about networking is it gives you a chance to show your personality and interpersonal skills. A recruiter might meet you at a networking event and get a totally different perspective of you rather than just looking at a resume you emailed over. Even if you may not have a lot of experience, if they are sold on some of other your traits and skill, they may be more willing to help you.
Once you know what type of job you are looking for, it is time to search for relatable networking events. The best website to start at is Meetup. Meetup has a wide range of networking events that will help connect you with people in a variety of different fields. The website specifically has a Career and Business section with a ton of different networking events. I’m sure that you will find a variety of different Meetups related to your field. These Meetups usually come in different forms. For example, you may find Meetups for managers within your field (i.e., “Public Relations Managers”), or Meetups intended for all individuals within your field (i.e., “Public Relations Professionals”). You may also find Meetups which serve as discussion panels, conversation groups or master minds for hot topics within your field. Additionally, Meetup has general business networking events where people from a variety of fields come together to network. These are usually labeled as business mixers or social events. These are all great opportunities to meet new people that can help you find a job.
Alternatives to Meetup
While Meetup definitely has the most events for you to search, Eventbrite is another strong site. A lot of organizations or individuals that run networking events will post these events on Eventbrite. I have personally found that Eventbrite typically has more general business networking events while Meetup tends to have more field specific business networking events. You can also perform a Google search to find local networking events near you.
Career fairs are another good networking tool to find a job. Career fairs come in many different shapes and sizes. The college you went to may have a career fair intended for current students or alumni. Although the number of employers that choose to attend these types of career fairs tend to be smaller because the pool of candidates is usually more limited, this is still a great opportunity for you because you have less competition to deal with, making it easier for you to stand out! Additionally, an employer typically has a strong relationship with the school if they are attending the career fair, thus making them more likely to be interested in hiring students and alumni from the school. These are typically really good for individuals trying to find an entry level job.
Additionally, there are career fairs that are open to a certain population or career group. For example, there are plenty of career fairs open to only veterans or engineers. The National Society of Black Engineers is a great example of this. These career fairs are usually run by an organization or association that is interested in supporting a certain population. These are great because the employers are usually attending the fair because they are specifically looking to hire someone within that population or field. This again limits the number of people you have to compete with to get noticed. However, you will typically have to compete with other individuals that have professional level experience. These fairs are typically really good for individuals trying to find professional level jobs that require 3 plus years of experience.
Lastly, there are career fairs that are open to the general public. National Career Fairs is the clear leader in this field as they have more 10,000 career fairs nationwide each year. Their career fairs are free to attend and are open to anyone. Additionally, they have a job posting board and a section in their site where you can upload your resume prior to attending the event. These are great because typically more companies will attend these events because the pool of candidates is not limited. This gives you more opportunities to find a job! However, the downside is that there are a lot more people. This by default increases the level of competition and makes it harder for you to stand out. These are typically good for individuals trying find an entry level job as well as individuals trying to professional level jobs.
Community and College Organizations
Another powerful networking tool is joining community and college organizations. This can include joining your local community board or volunteering a few hours a week at a local not-for-profit. This can also include joining a sorority/fraternity or a club at your college associated with your major (i.e., your college’s Psychology Club). You shouldn’t necessarily go into these groups looking or explicitly asking for jobs because the main purpose people get together in these organizations is to complete work for the organization. You joining the group and asking the members of the group if they know anyone that is hiring can leave a really bad impression and make the members of the group less likely to help you. However, joining organizations like this naturally connects you with more people. Additionally, if you work well with the other members of the group and are passionate about the group’s work, you will build strong relationships with the group members. This is great because if someone in the group does happen to know about an opportunity, they may be more willing to help you.
In conclusion, networking is a powerful tool to helping you find a job. As you can tell, there are many different ways to effectively network. The more consistent you are about expanding your network, the higher your chances will be for finding a job. In my next post, I will discuss the impact networking has had on my professional career.