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How To Network Is The Key

An excerpt from the book Starting Over: Getting a Job You Love by Joan Dzuro, SPHR

You knew I would be getting to this word sooner or later, didn't you? Networking is a terrific way to find that next great position. How to network is the key.

First, talk to friends, old business acquaintances, vendors from your last company, people at the various associations where you were a member. Let them know what you want to do for next job and ask them if they know of anyone in this field. This is a very small world we live in, and you will be surprised who knows whom in it. By just letting people know what you want to do, you may find someone who can give you a good lead.

The Internet has opened a huge window on how to connect with people all over the globe. Before proceeding with any new Web site, however, read the site terms to know which ones are free and which are not. By getting your information and inquires on these sites, you can start to get some leads on new opportunities. Since you do not know who is responding to you, be cautious and take it slow when dealing with individuals who respond to these sites. There are some people throughout the Internet who are there to cause harm.

Another way to network is to find out if there is a local professional organization for the career you want and look at joining. Most organizations let people attend once or twice as non-members to check out the organization before applying for membership. An example: in human resources we have the Society of Human Resources (SHRM) that is nation wide. There are chapters in a lot of communities, and they have excellent programs to hone the HR skills, network with other professionals, and give leads on jobs that are opening in the area.

To find out if there is an organization in your area, go to the Web and enter whatever career you are looking at, along with the general geographic location where you are living. You will see a list of various organizations that you can then research and determine which fits you the best and is the closest to your home. I find that in our busy society, today you are more likely to attend if the organization is near your home and is easy and quick to get to on meeting day.

When you attend the meeting, get as much material as possible about the organization:

  • How long have they been in existence?
  • What is the club's purpose?
  • How many members do they have total?
  • What is the average attendance at each meeting?
  • How often do they meet?
  • What are the programs like?
  • What are members expected to do upon joining (some organizations need new members to commit to joining a committee or helping with a fundraiser or something)?

As you start attending these sessions, you should find the programs helpful in increasing your career knowledge and getting to know the other members; expand your network for getting assistance as you progress through your career. Most organizations have senior members who are willing to mentor people who are just entering the career. Having a veteran who can share techniques and answer your questions can be priceless.

For more information on networking, changing careers, preparing for interviews, and other employment related issues, read Starting Over: Getting a Job You Love by Joan Dzuro, SPHR.

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