When you are searching for a new job, networking plays a major role. But what if you’ve had your fill of crowded happy-hour-type events or breakfast mingles? Those traditional forms of networking are good, but sometimes they don’t make sense. Either circumstances require them to change their format, or they just don’t line up with your availability or personality. Luckily, it’s not the only way to make connections that will advance your career — and there are other ways to fire up your network.
It pays to think creatively about networking. You’ll reach people you might not have otherwise, and you just might enjoy the process more. When you open to the possibilities and are sincerely interested in others, people will remember you better than if you handed them your business card after a few perfunctory exchanges in a busy room.
Try these six ways to fire up your network
What organization is doing good work that you believe is important in your community? Most nonprofits and other civic groups welcome volunteers to help advance their mission. The primary motivation to volunteer must be to serve others, but it doesn’t hurt that by doing so you will probably connect to other professionals. They may work in your field or a different one; either way, they know people you don’t.
Volunteering connects you to a community formed around shared values, writes author and executive coach L. Michelle Smith. “Those connections are made stronger by the conversations those people have about topics with which they all align. This implies that your community has more than just a passing knowledge of you. Your network may be familiar with you, but your community will vouch for you.”
Share what you know
What do you know that can benefit others? Now is the time to find ways to share it and in so doing position yourself as a subject matter expert. Networking and professional groups often invite someone to share helpful tips or insights – make the jump from being an attendee to a presenter. You might even get paid, but probably not. That’s okay in this instance, because you will be seen by many as a knowledgeable or skilled person who will rise to the top of their minds when they need someone like you.
In lieu of in-person or virtual events, consider writing an article for LinkedIn. Get active sharing from your own blog if you have one, or scout out other bloggers who align in some way with you and offer to provide a guest post. Hire an editor if you need help polishing your writing to present yourself in the best light. Short talking videos can have a tremendous impact, too, so consider creating a video where you share something meaningful to your desired network and posting it to LinkedIn or other social media.
Cast a wide net
The usual advice is to focus networking narrowly and intentionally where it can yield direct results. But don’t neglect to talk to everyone you know about your job search. It’s interesting that a wide net activates the long tail in our digitally connected world: The more people you reach, the more chances you have to reach the ones who want exactly what you bring to the table. You can be networking when you work out, take your child to swim practice, attend an HOA meeting, or gather with family, neighbors, or your faith community. And don’t forget your social media contacts.
Start your own group
If you have been less than satisfied with the surface nature of contacts you’ve experienced in networking events, consider creating your own group. Identify a few people in your existing contact list whom you would like to get to know better and suggest you meet informally over a meal or after work. Alternately, you could select participants from companies or industries parallel or complementary to the ones you favor. If all goes well, make it a regular occurrence. The better people know each other, the more confidence they will have recommending you to potential new employers.
Take it outside
Make your new group a walking group. Or meet up at a café with outside dining or for a bring-your-own-lunch picnic in the park. It’s healthy, and the change of scenery can contribute to positive thinking and creativity.
Focus on the person in front of you
No matter whether the networking setting is mundane or outside-the-box, genuinely narrow your attention to the person or persons in your conversation. Scanning the room is fine when you first get there or when you are refreshing your drink, but otherwise it is rude to your current conversation partner. Who you are is more memorable than what you do, so be your most considerate self.
Fire up your network with Bradsby Group
In addition to these six creative ways to fire up your network, we recommend connecting with a recruiter who has a successful track record in matching talented individuals with top employers. We have been doing this with great success for decades — and our recruiters themselves have immense networks. Are you looking to make a move into an industry we partner with? Send us your resume and let’s get started.