Networking is a four-letter word for many job seekers. Just the thought of going into a room full of complete strangers sends them running to the streets while pulling their hair out. It can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some helpful tips to ease some of the fears around networking.
1. Web it up!
This is a great exercise because it allows job seekers to make themselves the centre of attention and expand outward. They simply place their name in the middle of the page and start writing the names of people they know that can help them in their job search. The key to this is for them to contact at least three people on the list, set up a time to discuss job search and career goals, as well as ask for referrals. Networking in this manner should always be followed up with a thank you note.
2. Social Media
In the era of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn it is essential that job seekers take advantage of these valuable networking resources. The best thing about them is that all the work can be done from the comforts of home. These sites allow job seekers to follow organizations they are interested in and join discussion groups to share their expertise while creating a name for themselves.
For a beginner, volunteering is a great way to build up contacts and get some excellent work experience. It’s a natural way to network because the focus is performing the tasks that need to be done and not stressing on the meeting people. Volunteer work can lead to reference letters, and possibly a job.
4. Talk to Yourself!
Huh? How does talking to ones self help networking? Think to Allen Iverson’s post practice press conference “Practice? You talkin’ bout practice?” Yup!
The only way to get better at something is to practice. Sitting down and writing out an elevator speech should be accompanied by standing in front of a mirror and belting it out. Over, and over, and over again. Eventually speaking in public won’t be a big deal.
5. Join a Networking Group
Why would anyone want to join a networking group when they are afraid of networking? Because, it’s one of the best ways to get over the fear of networking. Doing something in a supportive atmosphere will calm the networking phobic. Yes, it’s intimidating. Yes, it’s difficult. But if they push through, it will get easier. A great organization to think about becoming active in is Toastmaster’s. They lead and guide their participants by providing opportunities to nail down those public speaking, presentation, communication, and networking skills. Check out the Toastmaster’s website at http://www.toastmasters.org for more details.
6. What is the purpose?
Before going to the event, the job seeker should know why they are going. Are they seeking information regarding a certain career? Are they going to apply for jobs? Are they going to face their networking fears? By knowing ahead of time what their purpose is, they’ll be able to remain focused and not dwell on any fears they are experiencing.
Networking is a challenge. There is no denying that. Even the most confident, seasoned networkers get the jitters. The key thing to remember when walking into a room full of strangers is that others are experiencing fear as well. Fear is a natural response. When used for good it can produce some amazing results, especially when it comes to networking. One last tip: have fun!
For more tips on networking visit our website at http://www.myerc.ca/content/Job%20Seekers/Networking.asp
This article was written by career development practitioner Brandon Gorin.