I keep meeting people who are looking for a job. New college grads, moms re-entering the workforce, unemployed folks, the demographics span age, ethnicity, and sex. And you know what I keep telling them? Take a guess. I bet you know.
“Argh.” you growl. You are so tired of hearing it. You prefer to hear, “Take this class, and that will give you an edge. Go to a recruiting firm, and they’ll help you.” And sure, you can take both of those actions, but even if you do, you STILL have to network.
I’ll avoid the litany of reasons why you should network because the statistics about networking speak for themselves. You can also just google, “Benefits of networking.” If you’re still not convinced, I’ll put it to you this way. Have you ever had a problem that you couldn’t solve on your own? I rest my case.
So you’re convinced about the awesomeness of creating a network, but you’re stumped on how to start.
First, consider the fact that whether or not you’ve intentionally networked, you still have a network. This network includes friends and acquaintances whether you know them from your job, parents, neighborhood, church, synagogue, mosque, temple, library, community pool, book club, tennis association, or knitting Meetup; you get the picture. These are all people that you can ask for help from.
Your goal is not to create a network from scratch – unless you change your geographic location – but to expand your network. You may think that to expand your network you have to go to networking events in your field, or the field you want to get into. And yes, this is a good idea. But let’s face it, getting into a suit on a Saturday morning for a networking breakfast is something you
may not don’t want to do every weekend.
Instead, find something you like to do. This is what Ramit Sethi calls “networking naturally.” Do you like running? Find your local running group. If there’s no local running group and that’s what you really want to be a part of, don’t let that stop you. Start a running group. You will meet people. Here’s another idea. Start hanging out at a coffee shop. Go at the same time a few times a week, and you’re bound to meet people.
When you meet people through a common interest, it’s easy to develop relationships with them. The key to networking is to build relationships with people. If you go into networking with the attitude that you want to get to know the folks in your community rather than the notion that you’re networking to find people that can help you, you might just find that you like networking.
It sounds corny, but networking really will add to your life. Not only will you have people that you can ask for help from, but you’ll also have the opportunity to help others and make some friends. And that’s what creating community is all about. So get out there and create your community!
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