Face-to-face networking still the best way to land a job
By Anita Bruzzese
If you're looking for work, it may be time to step away from the computer.
That's because like many job seekers, you're probably spending way too much time poring over job boards and sending resumes to cyber black holes that offer you little chance of finding a job.
Instead, it's time to get on the phone or go out to lunch. In other words, it's time to network, still the best way to land a job.
However, chances are good you're going to balk at the suggestion. Networking for many people has the appeal of doing taxes or having an especially painful medical procedure.
"I think part of the problem is because people don't feel at the top of their game when they're looking for work. They're afraid of looking needy and helpless to other people. And, they feel like it's begging — especially if they haven't been networking until now," says Liz Lynch, founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of "Smart Networking."
She suggests job seekers should:
• Go to events attended by others in your industry or field of interest. "If you attend a networking event with random people, it won't help you," Lynch says.
• Be prepared. Always dress professionally when networking, refine your pitch on your capabilities and be ready to ask pertinent questions. "I think some people have this idea that they're going to network with someone and the person will say, 'Oh, my gosh! I've been looking for you all my life!' "
• Give back. It can be uncomfortable to just call and ask someone for a job lead. Lynch says it can help ease your discomfort by then offering something in return, such as saying, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
• Avoid overusing social networking. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping tabs on your contacts, but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.
• Keep the networking muscle in use. It's estimated college graduates will change jobs nearly a dozen times in their careers, and networks will remain critical.
"Often, your discomfort with networking goes away when you've got a job, so that's a great time to work on your connections," Lynch says. "Take the time once a week or even once a month to ask someone from your company or another connection to go to lunch.
"By the end of the year, you will really have expanded your network."
Reach Anita Bruzzese c/o: Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22107.