Networking

The Key to Any Successful Career

“Networks are like contraceptives. To be any good, they need to be in place well before you need them.”
– Dolly Parton

One of the biggest buzzwords of today, no matter what field you’re in, is networking.

“Come to this happy hour, it will be a great networking opportunity!”

"Do we have any networking events coming up?”

“I’m just trying to build my network…” and so on.

There’s a good reason that this word is used so much - Networking will be the smartest move in your career.

70% of job positions are filled through networking. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Not through job postings. Not Internet ads. Not even recruiters. (Which is hard to admit as the VP of a recruiting firm.) We’re talking 3 out of 4 jobs! This number can’t be ignored.

It’s no secret that networking can happen just about anywhere. But take advantage of the obvious and not-so-obvious sources of potentially valuable relationships. User groups. Civic Clubs. Happy hours. Block parties. Religious groups. Your kid’s soccer game. All of these will expand your network.

A lot of blogs today will tell you to plan your “elevator pitch”. Personally, I hate that term. It feels salesy and inauthentic. You can have a conversation with someone new and talk to them about your passions and goals without it being a sales pitch. A good relationship that comes from networking is two-sided.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be real. Change up the conversation with people you meet. You don’t have to focus on business all the time; talk about things that you actually care about. Show them that you’re an individual with real interests and not just another self-promoting face in the crowd.
  • Use social networks to build your brand and increase your reach to potential job sources. This one is obvious – social presence is everything these days. Create profiles on different social networks and make sure they represent your strengths, both personally and professionally. Don't post the same content on all of your profiles. Learn the difference between each network and share meaningful posts. Connect with people who have similar passions or skills that can learn from you.
  • Don’t be a consumer only, contribute equally. There are many ways you can cultivate your relationship with people in your network. Ask your connections how you can help them. Follow them on Twitter and retweet their content. Give them a shout out on #followFriday. Create a circle on Google+ for people you meet and +1 their posts.
  • Make networking a process, not an event. When you make a solid connection with someone, think long-term. You're not just collecting business cards to send out a mass email.
  • Stay in contact with the people you meet. Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter. Send a thank you note to people who give you referrals. Plan lunch with your key contacts to just catch up.

What do you think is the most important part of networking?

About the Author: 

Jon Davis is Executive Vice President for MATRIX Resources. He has 20 years of experience in leading sales teams and corporate recruiting efforts in all verticals ranging from start up companies, mid-market organizations and the Fortune 100. Follow Jon on Twitter for more career tips: @JonDavis12.

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What Happens on Twitter Stays . . . Everywhere.

I don’t think people actually realize that what happens on Twitter can hang around like an unwelcome in-law (none of mine of course, I love all mine). If you are looking for a job, or just want to KEEP the job you have, think twice, and maybe three times about what you tweet. Social media can be a very powerful tool for finding a job, gathering information, and networking. However, it can royally mess up your career, or land you in court, if you don’t use common sense when updating.

Below are actual tweets I found by doing a few simple searches on Twitter:

What Happens on Twitter Stays . . .  Everywhere.1. So since my boss is a #$%*@, I have today off and may get fired tomorrow.
2. En route to work…still drunk
3. So I came to work this morning w/ my shirt inside out, my hair a mess, and kinda drunk. . .
4. From the moment I got into work today, all I’ve wanted to do is get drunk…
5. I hate my job, boss and schedule.
6. People are stupid. I hate them. My boss just walked in. I hate him too.
7. I hate when my boss trys to wear feminine color polish on her manly @*$ hands!!!!
8. One of my coworkers will realize that smell is actually his breath….
9. So according to my coworkers my new shampoo and conditioner makes me smell like im drunk? Haha how does that work?
10. Got drunk as hell last night….at work bout to pass out
11. At work but not working, wassup wit u
12. I’m having a fantastic time not working at work, lol.

Though I got a good laugh out of some of the tweets, especially number 7, I couldn’t help but think of what might happen to these people if someone in their organization saw their tweet.

I don’t mean to “scare” you so you never use social media. It’s a great tool. But just re-think that status update or tweet before you hit publish.

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

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Are You Wasting Your Time Networking?

In 2003, the recruiting industry was not good to me.

It was before my time with MATRIX, and I was seeking my next recruiting client.  I spent 3-4 times a week at various networking events and hit most of the job support meetings I could find.  It made sense to trade job leads with others that were looking.  I figured that someone there would know of a company, or a person, that needed my skills and experience.  Not only that, they would be in a great position to introduce me if they knew the person that was looking to hire.  So I went from job support meeting to job support meeting, thinking that I was growing my network and increasing my chances of finding a job.

I now realize I was dead wrong, and if you read on, brave job seeker, I will open up an area that I feel will set you apart from the rest of the pack. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Job seekers need each other for a large number of reasons.  We get support.  We share job search ideas.  And yes, there is always networking.  But if we spend most of our time there, we might find that our ½ filled cup starts to look a bit upside down.  So I offer a walk [yet again] on the road less traveled.

So, if networking with a bunch of other job seekers is not the best area, then where should we network?  Where should we go to be closer to the jobs we’re seeking?

It’s rather simple.  Go to networking events where people who are working go.

Please don’t start throwing rotten veggies yet, and hear me out.  You have skills, experience, and industry knowledge.  You have interests and specialties.  I suggest you go to gatherings that are of a subject matter where you can shine, get involved, and become known.

Here is an example.  Say you are a Business Analyst with previous testing experience in wireless communications, supply chain, and website development.  You also are an iPhone nut who knows of the only on-line search engine for iPhone apps [for those who this applies, check out http://www.uquery.com/].  Easily, there are a large number of user groups, seminars, industry meetings, etc. about all of the above items where you have experience and interest in.  Get on-line and find out where these events are and start going.  You have the skills and the interest in these and might have some value you can share.  Plus, you’ll be around people who are working, and they might know if team is in desperate need of someone.

On Google, I used this search to find some events:  ("supply chain" OR "wireless" "iphone") (atlanta OR georgia) (conference OR "user group" OR site:meetup.com) (april 2010)

Here are a couple of meetings I found:

There is much talk about the value that we bring to the workforce.  I know from 20+ years of recruiting experience that companies will measure you by the value you bring to their organization.  Typically, though, a hiring manager can’t 100% gauge your value by interviewing you, so they rely on tests, references, their team's assessment, and the “gut feeling” that many use to make hiring decisions.  So what if they had another data point, something that showcases your talent and makes you larger than life?

Get yourself to industry specific events and hob-knob with people in that industry.  It’s a great way to keep abreast of the new happenings and meet some new [and employed] people.

We’ll explore the “what to do now that I am here” question on my next post.

About the Author: 

Jason Singer is a Recruiting Team Lead for MATRIX Resources. He brings over 20 years of Technical Recruiting and Sales industry expertise with insightful and results-driven commentary on the world of finding and securing job opportunities.

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Using Twitter to Find a Job - A Real Life Example

In previous posts I have told you how you can build great relationships via Twitter. Also, Craig Fisher wrote about the "cool kids" that are using Twitter and other social media outlets to network. Now, I want to give you a real example of how Ben McCormack, a new MATRIX consultant, used Twitter to find a job. I spoke with Ben a few days ago, and asked him to walk me through the job-search process he used on Twitter.

Did you join Twitter intending to look for a job?

I joined twitter about 8 months ago to start following experts in the Microsoft .NET Silverlight space. I noticed there were many industry experts on Twitter so I figured it could be a great tool to gain knowledge of a specific subject. I started following a guy by the name of Joel Spolsky. One day, I noticed a tweet that they were hiring a Support Engineer in New York. So I responded to the tweet and actually got a job interview. Though, I didn't get that specific job, it made me realize that Twitter really can be a powerful tool in a job search.

How did you find your new job on Twitter?

Like I said, I wasn't actively "looking for a job." But, one day I noticed that one of your recruiters, Kelly Thielemann, started following me. I looked at her profile information and saw that she was a Technical Recruiter in the Atlanta area. I read through the information she was sharing on Twitter, and I liked it, so I decided to start following her. A few days later, she sent out a job that she was looking to fill. It sounded interesting to me so I went ahead and responded to her. From there, MATRIX took care of the rest.

How often did you check Twitter for updates?

I use a desktop application called TweetDeck to arrange and organize my Twitter account. I stayed of top of the information that was being shared daily - usually every evening. What I like about Twitter is you can be close enough to see what's going on, but you are not obligated to respond.

Do you think Twitter is a powerful tool in a job search?

Yes. Definitely. Again, you can keep a pulse on what is going on in and around the "technical community." My e-mail wasn't clogged with "suggested jobs" and I didn't have to browse through jobs on a career site.

Now, I know that Ben's story sounds easy. And, not everyone will be followed by a Technical Recruiter in the exact city where they are looking for a job.

So, you need to be proactive and, just as Ben did, follow experts that are in your field. Run searches using TweepSearch.com or Search.Twitter.com to find specific people or conversations. You can also find numerous articles about using Twitter to find a job.

The point is, Twitter really does work in a job search.

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

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Word Up! Wasssup! Tweetup?

There are phrases that might seem strange at first, but then quickly integrate themselves into our culture. Like back in 1986, you could probably sing along with Cameo and "tell your brother, your sister, and mama too. . . Word up!" Or maybe in 1999 you were "watchin' the game, havin' a bud" when "wasssup" went viral. Either way, I said these phrases and I'm sure you did too.

One phrase that definitely seemed strange to me at first was "Tweetup". Urban Dictionary defines tweetup as: a group of friends on Twitter (social network) that are planning to meet up.

A few nights ago, I attended the #punkATL Tweetup, planned by Stephanie A. Lloyd, Laurie Ruettimann, and Todd Schnick. It was a great mix of recruiters, social media gurus, and HR professionals gathering to share stories and accomplishments of 2009.

@AdamWaidFor me, there is always a mixture of emotions going into Tweetups. I'm excited to finally meet in person, all those that I've begun building a relationship with via Twitter. But just like any networking event, there is always some anxiety about stepping out and mingling with folks I don't know. No matter how "social" you are, that can be tough.

But if you're a job seeker, I'm sure you've heard that "networking" is key. And using social media can be a huge advantage in your job search.

Running the MATRIX Twitter account, I'm constantly seeing individuals connecting with us who need a job. And I think "good for you," you're doing more than just submitting resumes on a career site, you're getting your name out there, and using Twitter to find a job.

But it goes beyond just "following" someone on Twitter. You need to engage with them. Do your homework.

That's why Tweetups can be so beneficial. You get to interact with individuals on Twitter (get to know them a little; gather some good talking points) before you actually meet them in person. Also, a Tweetup usually has a hash-tag associated with it like #punkATL. That way you can find out who's attending and review their Twitter profile and photo, so that meeting them at the live event is much warmer than a cold introduction.

Remember, Twitter and other social media sites are a powerful tool for today's job seekers, but there is no substitute for one-on-one networking. Get out there! Find your local Tweetups (or organize your own) and shake some hands, smile, and put a real face with an avatar.

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

 

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