Tag Archives: adventures in networking

Adventures in Networking: Why This is Awkward

25 Sep

I apparently have a huge alumni network that I can access online (called MiddNet).  What are they there for?  Networking.  But why should I network with them?  And are there, say, any guidelines for what we should discuss?  Too bad there isn’t a special career-focused website that has all these answers.  Oh wait, no, nevermind, there’s TONS, including my school’s career section, which is where I pulled the following.

Why Network?

1. 60-80% of job seekers secure employment by using networking-generated references to uncover the “hidden job market.”

Guidelines for contacting MiddNet advisors:

1. MiddNet is NOT to be used to solicit employment or job openings, internships, housing, funds, sales or business opportunities. Do not ask Middnet volunteer advisors to find a job or internship for you, or to arrange a job interview for you.

2. MiddNet is to be used ONLY to seek advice and career information. It is appropriate to ask MiddNet advisors for advice on: networking strategies; strategies for how to conduct a job/internship search; information about a career field or industry area; or to request an informational (networking) interview.

And This Leads To…

Having internalized these contradictory facts and rules, my typical networking conversations tend to boil down to this:

“So how did you get your first job?’

“Through networking.”

(awkward pause in which you both contemplate the true purpose of this phone call)

“Um, and how did you do that?  I mean, what ‘strategies’ did you use?”

“Pretty much what you’re doing right now.”

“…”

“…”

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Adventures in Networking, Pt. 2! Exclamation Point!

26 Apr

After a couple long chats with my parents, there is a new life plan: to focus on finding a local job, save enough money for a move up north, then I can live in a big city in a swanky apartment with all my friends like they do on How I Met Your Mother.  You can’t have charming, uproarious shenanigans in New York with your best pals if you can’t afford to relocate.  Hello real life, my name is Sarah, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.

The dream.

I can handle this development.  All I have to do is network and make connections and yadda yadda blah blah. Except who the hell do I know in Lakeland, FL?! My parents moved here from New York when I was in college, and I spent my summers away.  So yes, I’m totally friendless, but I’m not out to make friends.  I’m out to get a job.  I need to work my professional network, which means I have to target my dad’s connections and my alumni brethren.

I love HIMYM, so you better believe I spent my weekend networking.  I wanna live the dream, man.

I found an alum in Tampa (a 4o minute commute from me) who currently practices law.  Throughout college, I was convinced I was heading to law school.  I took a couple practice LSAT questions, and got all of them wrong.  I also found out that I would be saddled with 30 years of debt, and as a public interest lawyer, my yearly salary would be less than a construction worker’s. I figured that I was too dim-witted to get into law school, and if I did miraculously manage it (does University of Phoenix give away law degrees?), I would develop an intense hatred and jealousy of construction workers everywhere.  Also, I’d probably be eating Vienna sausages for dinner every night, due to my noble pursuit of legislative reform.

This was the future I had envisioned after six practice questions and a quick Google search.  In other words, I gave up on my dream before I even tried, and before I had talked to a real live, breathing lawyer who could shed some light on his occupation.  I figured reaching out to this alum would be a good way to get some questions resolved, and maaaybe finagle my way into a legal assistant position.  Are Vienna sausages yummy?  Are construction workers good people?  Would University of Phoenix turn me down?  I needed answers.

It didn’t totally go as I had hoped, although it was still a helpful, informative interview.  What’s more, it taught me how to properly conduct networking interviews in the future.  Lookit, I made a chart for you describing my experience and the wins and fails of networking. I had one other networking adventure this weekend at Universal Studios, but I’ll save that for some other time.  Are you titillated with anticipation?  Fabulous.

What I Did Do (Huzzah!) What I Didn’t Do (Booooo)
  • Be friendly! The five networking emails I sent before were very matter-of-fact and to the point.  This one had an exclamation point!  This connotates that you are a nice, outgoing person and aren’t just using them for personal gain(even though you absolutely are)!  The  naive enthusiasm that this punctuation symbolizes is endearing and people will be inclined to help you! Also, make a light joke if you feel comfortable, but don’t overdo it! Exclamation point!!!
  • Have a list of prepared questions ready before the interview Don’t wing it, otherwise you’ll look like an unprofessional asshole who is wasting a non-asshole’s time.  I was glad I did, because I was a bit nervous talking to someone who charges his time by the minute, and was thus very efficient in his responses.
  • Be gracious. Thank them!  The follow-up email is integral in making a good impression, and shows that yous be a classy fellow.
  • Taken total control of the interview from the start I realized that the people you’re contacting are just as clueless about networking as you are. We just assume that real grown-ups know how this works, and so they’ll guide us through the bizarre process, like our college advisors did, but that is E-RRON-EOUS.  It’s entirely up to you to get the results you want from this connection.
  • Made sure my contact knew who the hell I was We exchanged a couple emails before I called him, but I never sent him my resume, which would have effectively told him about myself.  On the phone, I pretty much said, “I LIKE LAW LMAO!” Mid-convo, he stopped and said, “Can I ask what you majored in?” Yes you can, sir.  Incompetency and humiliation.
  • Not babbled! ‘Nuff said.
  • Grown a pair–asked the questions that I want ed to ask When push came to shove, I couldn’t ask the one fairly innocuous question that would’ve maybe led to a job offer.  “What’s a good introduction to the legal profession for someone who’s on the fence about it?”  Totally harmless, but I still couldn’t do it.  As a result, I hung up with the lawyer and immediately wailed to a friend about my dissatisfaction with the interview.
  • Take

  • total control of the interview from the start. I realized that the people you’re contacting are just as clueless about it as you are. We just assume that real grown-ups know how this works, and so they’ll guide us through this bizarre process, like our college advisors did, but this is E-RRON-EOUS!  It’s entirely up to you to get the results you want from this connection.
  • Make sure your contact knows who the hell you are. We exchanged a couple emails before I called him, but I never sent him my resume, which would have effectively told him about myself.  On the phone, I pretty much said, “I LIKE LAW LMAO!” Mid-convo, he stopped and said, “Can I ask what you majored in?” Yes you can, sir.  Incompetency and humiliation.
  • Don’t babble! ‘Nuff said.
  • Grow a pair-ask all the questions you want. When push came to shove, I couldn’t ask the one fairly innocuous question that would maybe lead to a job offer.

Networking: wtf is THAT about?

9 Apr

Fail.

Remember how I called up my Career Services Office and was essentially “zomg HALP! I’m an alum, I don’t have a job, and my head’s firmly wedged up my ass!” and all that?

The nice advisor lady who coached me through my troubles told me that the key to finding a job is through networking, and most experts agree.  According to them, if I ask anyone how they got their job in their field, apparently they’ll respond, “Through the magnificent power of networking.”  The heavens will then open and the Hallelujah chorus will sing.  And then they’d ALL give me the stink eye and think, “Why are you even questioning the wonders of this powerful career resource?  Gosh.”

The imaginary judgment of angels is not enough to compel me to randomly email strangers and interrogate them, even if they are, say, from my alma mater.  Just because we both bleed blue and white doesn’t necessarily mean they’d want to have a conversation that could pretty quickly turn into the territory of “zomg HALP! I’m an alum, I don’t have a job, and my head’s firmly wedged up my ass.”  In other words, I need more convincing.  Obviously, this needs to take the shape of obnoxious, multi-colored fun facts, because I am 8 years old.

NETWORKING FUN FACTS!!! (pulled from here)

  • What the hell is networking? Either creating a new connection or rekindling an old one in order to share your career goals and interests, and then using that connection for mutual benefit.
  • Why the hell should I network? (1) Intelligence.  You’d get the insider info on the company and learn about the job and what it entails.  Kinda like a super spy, a little.  You know, gathering intel before he makes a move.  Sexy.  (2) Hiring is risky and expensive, and you become a safer bet.  When you have someone to vouch for you and your character, the company will be willing to invest in hiring you over your competitors.  Now brace yourselves, because this last one’s a doozy…(3) 70-80% of jobs aren’t even advertised, those sneaky bastards! Having an “in” is the only way to uncover the hidden job market, and that connection is obtained through kidnap and ransom.  What?  Sorry, I meant networking.

I’ve been converted.  I like the idea of a hidden job market that only the incredibly ambitious and diligent can access.  I’m gonna go all Titanic on that iceberg of opportunity.  I’m gonna crash into it head on and then I’m going to drown myself in connections until I crack in half from the 70-80% of possibilities that are now open to me.  That is a lot, but I am incredibly ambitious and diligent and will win at networking.

Win?

I’m so friggin’ ready to do this.  The nice advisor lady said that I should contact 2-3 people a day.  So let’s say I do that every day until I find a job–let’s hope that’ll be in three months.  How many people is that, exactly?  According to my calculations,  somewhere between 6 and one million.  Damn, that’s a big, fat network.

In closing, I’ll try to post fairly regularly about my…wait for it…ADVENTURES IN NETWORKING!  For all those who are eager to embark on your journeys, here are 5 fundamental networking tips.  Good luck, and Godspeed fellow compatriots.  Huzzah!