Posts Tagged ‘introverts’

Networking for the Uninitiated

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Dealing with one job loss is quite enough, thank you, but a number of people (like Norm at Jobless and Less) are dealing with multiple layoffs in the past few years, the topic of Coping With a Job Loss–Again from the Wall Street Journal.

One of their tips mirrors something I’ve mentioned several times: volunteer. While I recommended volunteering as a way to fill resume gaps and get additional work experience, the article suggests finding “a volunteer activity that already involves a company you’re hoping will hire you.” Essentially, in addition to volunteering’s other benefits, it also helps you network.

The article also mentions online networking, through sites like LinkedIn and twitter. If you aren’t on LinkedIn, you should definitely join today.

Maintaining a network is good advice even if you aren’t currently job-hunting. As pointed out in Maintaining Networking Momentum After You Land the Job, you never know when you’ll need your network, so it’s best to maintain it in both good times and bad.

Networking doesn’t come naturally to most people. It often feels artificial and forced, although it doesn’t have to. For many people, it just takes a change in perspective.

Here’s a fun stick-figure slideshow that explains in detail: The Shy Connector. The most important point, to me, is that networking is not about bragging about your accomplishments and other shameless self-promotion. It is about finding out more about other people and what they do, letting them know about your skills, and suggesting areas where you can help their projects and businesses.

In another article, How to Network: For Introverts, I like the tip to invite people out for coffee, lunch, or a beer. Huge industry & networking events can be intimidating, but chatting with just one person, or a few other people, is often much easier.

I also like one of the comments on the article, from Mukul Gupta: arrive early to networking events. In addition to Mukul’s suggestion that early birds have an advantage in placing themselves by important and well-connected people, I think that it provides additional benefits. By arriving early you get to introduce yourself to a much smaller crowd, and you can introduce yourself to newcomers as they arrive. With such a tactic, it’s possible that, at any given time during the event, your will see more familiar than unfamiliar faces.

3 of my last 4 jobs came through my network, through not necessarily in typical ways: one job was through a friend’s boyfriend, whose company was hiring IT support; another was through a friend’s mother, who had a friend working for an Internet startup; the third was through a former co-worker, who knew of a position opening in web and information systems that matched my qualifications and recommended me for the job. A large part of networking is making sure that the people you know know about your skills and experience, and that you are looking for work.

Do you have networking tips for those new to networking? Share them in the comments below.