I think that its not an understatement to say that most meaningful jobs are gained through some sort of a network.Â There will always be a lot of good folks who do get great jobs through the help wanteds or some placement service, no doubt.Â Still, networking and getting interviews based on personal recommendations is serious leg up.Â For me, whenever a candidate came with a recommendation from someone I knew, it was a huge advantage.Â I’ve brought people in just to chat because a friend asked me to, without regard to whether I had an opening or not.Â So, just to be clear, if you have no network of people you can call on, get going now!
Which brings us to the situation that a good number of us are in – we have no network.Â In fact, personally, I’ve never had a huge rolodex of names for me to fall back on.Â But you know what, still have to be resourceful enough to substitute, and here are some ideas:
Toastmaster -Â This is such a good program in so many ways, its just amazing that it’s not used by more people.Â First, forget the networking for a moment;Â public speaking is the bane of all existence.Â I would rather do just about anything (I was going to say something “dumb”) than get up in front a group of folks.Â And here is a support group for the public speaking challenged.Â Here’s a group that will nonjudgementally help you develop public speaking skills and some self confidence to boot.Â Checking out the local Toastmaster chapter is a must on your list of network building things to do.Â I picked this up from Harvey Mackay many, many moons ago and will be forever grateful to him for writing about Toastmaster.
Alumni Associations – Have you contacted your alumni association.Â If not, this is no brainer.Â Even if you have absolutely zero individuals in your network, that you graduated from the same college gets you in.Â Service academies, schools like USC – its gimme.Â Need to get on this one.
Local “Hobby” Chapters – Do you like to jog?Â Do you like to draw?Â Do you like hike?Â Do you like skiing?Â Are you a comic fan?Â Are you a car nut?Â Do you get the picture?Â Find a local chapter and join!Â Instant network.
Not something I recommend to all, but a few years back, I joined an online service called ExecuNet.Â At the time, it costed around 150 bucks or so, I think for a 6 months.Â It was among other things, a job posting for high paying positions.Â Postings were okay, seemed to me at the mostly IT and pharmaceutial sales position, but what I did find of value was their networking seminars.Â These 2 to 4 hour sessions were great.Â Professionals from all walks of life, literally there.Â Everyone makes short presentation on themselves.Â You have little mini plenary sessions of different topics.Â You get to hand out a lot of business cards.Â This is a place to be politely aggressive.Â And as I found out, you don’t need to join ExecuNet to attend.Â Seminar cost like 30 to 40 bucks, but well worth it.Â Do you need to go toÂ http://www.execunet.com/e_network.cfm?wt.svl=pn to find out where the seminars are held at but don’t bother joining, just attend a few seminars to network.
One observation on ExecuNet seminars, there 3 groups of people that I noticed.Â One like me, just in from Korea, looking for a job and folks to point me in the right direction.Â 2nd group were people new to the area, knew no one and were looking to build a network.Â 3rd group I was not too sure about.Â Seem to me they were there looking for business.Â By that I mean, one of the participant at my table was not networking per se, he was looking to sell his services in negotiating compensation packages.Â He was not really there to network as he was selling.Â Â So the ulterior motives will always be there, some more obvious than others.
So, these are some of the ways to kick start your networking efforts, if you have no network.