There is probably no more widely used word in the job search process than “networking.” It is also the most widely misunderstood word.
Sunday’s New York Times ran an article entitled, “Job Search Networks, in All Shapes and Sizes.” The article goes on to describe the diversity of groups devoted to networking. “While people have flocked to social networking Web sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, growing numbers of people are building grass roots offline communities, too, and sometimes use the Internet to arrange to meet people face-to-face.
“In many instances, these meetings are regular gatherings that draw no more than 15 people at a time. In other instances, the getogethers are much larger and travel to different cities.
“Whatever the approach, the participants say the goals are simple: to talk, trade stories, voice concerns and trade contacts that could lead to new work.”
The key questions to ask yourself when attending such events is “What is the specific purpose of the group? How focused are members on helping one another? Is this a primarily a support group, a lead-generation group, or a group that is geared to produce genuine referrals for one another.
The greatest drawback to such groups is that they are composed of people who are out of work. Wouldn’t you be more likely to secure more connections with company decision-makers if you were connected to a group of individuals who were already employed? More on this tomorrow.