The Art and Science of Networking Your Way to Your New Job

There are many ways to learn about job opportunities, but the more creative and tenacious you are in your networking and outreach, the more likely you are to learn about positions (both posted and emerging) that fit your criteria. In times of steep competition among job seekers, your job search strategy matters more than ever. Here are some helpful hints that can help you to maximize your exposure and find out about the right opportunities for you.

1. Utilize social media by creating a profile on JustMeans:  JustMeans focuses heavily on search engine optimization so creating a profile will enable you to post a public snapshot illustrating your past successes and the next steps you intend to take in your career.   Your JustMeans profile is your way to shamelessly promote your good work to the largest CSR community in the world.  JustMeans is the go-to site for companies and individuals to communicate about social responsibility.  With over 200,000 unique page views per month, the site presents a wide and far-reaching platform through which you can connect with others-including employers- in your fields of interest.   What you do in your day job and your volunteer activities tells a powerful story to your network.  The entrepreneurial job seeker can use new media to connect with others who are creatively working to change the world.  Are you one of them?
2. Reach out to mentors and role models in your field: Make a list of mentors, co-workers, bosses, and colleagues whom you admire or from whom you have learned something in the past.  Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, so call your old boss and ask her to meet for coffee.  Send an e-mail to a college professor who was well connected and meet him for a drink.  Set up a phone call with your uncle who is too busy to come to family functions but who has a broad network. If the idea of this kind of outreach makes you cringe, shift your paradigm.  While you are asking for help, you are also flattering the people you are asking.  You are giving them an opportunity to help you out, and chances are, they got to where they are in their careers because someone took the time to do the same thing for them.  In your outreach to these folks, think of specific questions that you'd like them to answer.  For example, if you are interested in working for a foundation, you can ask for specific contacts who either work for foundations who may know of opportunities that are not currently posted.  Well networked professionals receive a lot of e-mails, many containing information about job opportunities.  They might not have a lot of time to speak with you, but if they hear a bit about what you are looking for, they can quickly forward you an e-mail from a search firm announcing a new position.  The worst thing they can say is that they're too busy to speak with you now.  Considering the potential benefits, including key introductions that could move your job search along, that's not the end of the world, is it?
3. Attend workshops and networking events: Trade associations, membership groups, your alumni network, and myriad other organizations hold business networking events and conferences focused on all different types of topics.  Many of the events are free (and keep in mind that money spent on job searching is tax deductible, so the expenses can be mitigated).  Sign up for list serves, and check out upcoming events on JustMeans.  Get out and attend workshops, conferences, listen to panel speakers and meet new people.  Even if the topic is not in complete alignment with what you are looking for, you never know when you are going to meet someone who may be able to make a key introduction for you.  If you are currently between jobs, get business cards made up to attach to your resume and be sure to collect business cards from everyone so you can send follow up e-mails.

4. Practice and bolster your elevator speech about yourself: For many extroverts, this comes naturally and doesn't pose a problem.  For introverts, however, it can be last on their list of desired tasks.  They'd rather do just about anything but talk about themselves in any semblance of a public setting.  Nevertheless, the truth remains that a concise summary about what you are looking for can let others know how they may help you (and, in some cases, how you can help them!). Do whatever you need to do to be prepared for this part of your search.  Talk to yourself, engage a friend in the process, or talk to the mirror, but make sure you have your story concisely prepared.