Here is information many people would rather ignore: about 44% of job opportunities arise from networking. Unfortunately, most job hunters hate networking and are terrible at it.
Many think networking is high pressure, with high stakes. They’re convinced you have to figure out how to connect with someone, interest them, and impress them—and that it all must happen in just a few minutes, before the person’s attention begins to wander. Sounds pretty stressful.
But networking should not be viewed as an audition. It’s not about convincing anyone of anything; it’s about connecting.
Get to know people; don’t pitch them.
The people who are the best at networking are those who love going to events and meeting people—not to pitch them, but just to get to know them. All you need to be a successful networker is genuine curiosity and a true interest in others. That’s how connections are made.
Networking can happen in all kinds of places.
All job hunters should get out of their comfort zone and expand their circle. The more people you know, the more people may know of something opening up.
But again, the idea isn’t to make every contact and every activity about your job search. Instead, it’s about looking to share common interests and experiences with others. As a job hunter, it’s important to do things that lift your spirits because employers want people who are positive and upbeat. And if, along the way, it turns out someone knows someone who is hiring… that’s a bonus!
Easy and unique opportunities for networking.
If you don’t have a hobby, now is definitely the time to look for one. Whether it’s cake decorating, singing in a choir, indoor gardening, bee-keeping, or language, cooking or theatre classes, regularly meeting with people who share a common interest is fantastic for making contacts. Also consider organizing meet-ups in your area of interest. Bonus: Interviewers enjoy hearing about hobbies, since it shows initiative and engagement.
For some, the mention of “committee” sends shivers down their spine. Yet, committees are an excellent way to bond, as members around the table strategize together for a common goal. Many neighborhood community centers, local arts-and-crafts events, charitable organizations, and schools welcome new members. Bonus: Committees are a great addition to a resume and a way to flex some skills while meeting new people.
Sports and unusual activities:
The gym is great, but busy gyms don’t always foster much chat beyond, “Are you getting off that machine soon?” So a more specialized group activity may be your ticket to exercise and meet new people. Hiking meet-ups, salsa classes, indoor rock climbing, or more out-of-the-box activities, such as dragon boat paddling, medieval martial arts, bubble soccer (yes, you slide into a giant plastic bubble), or a school of circus arts can lead to stimulating conversations and encounters. Bonus: You’ll never be at a loss for interesting small talk at any networking event if you share an original experience you recently tried.
A chance to give back, learn, and meet people—the question isn’t whether you should volunteer, but why wouldn’t you? Bonus: Volunteer work is valuable for your resume.
Are you now convinced that networking is not a form of torture? As discussed here, networking is not as daunting; it’s simply a way to connect with people. And if a new professional challenge arises, even better.
Also, while you look for a hobby, check out our job postings!