Tag Archives: networking

Guess Who Has a Job?

14 Nov

ME.  Booyah.

VICTORY DANCING!

How did it happen?  Perhaps the universe finally recognized my inherent worth and capabilities.  Perhaps one of my billions of applications finally accepted.  Or maybe I just met a lady at a party and got a job three days later.  (Hint: it wasn’t the first two.)

The literacy council I volunteer for held a tutor appreciation ceremony on Friday, November 5th.  As I was about to leave, a woman introduced herself to me as one of the council board members.  We got to chatting, and she told me she helps run a tutoring service in town.  I off-handedly remarked, “Oh yeah, I applied there a while back, but never heard anything because I’m not a credentialed teacher.”  I’m what you would call suave.

I think I inadvertently guilt-tripped her, because she asked for my contact information and availability, and said she’d check into some opportunities for me.  I scribbled it on a ripped loose leaf with a fat, red Crayola marker.  (Kids, I am the epitome of professionalism, should you ever need a mentor).  She said she’d give me a call, and I thought, “Yeah, okay, and I’ll sprout wings and fly to Neptune.”  Still, I thanked her, and walked out expecting nothing to come of it.

Except that something totally did!

She called me on the following Monday and asked me to come in for an interview on Tuesday.  When I showed up, she gave me the contract to sign and asked me when I could start.  That was it.  I guess networking kind of works, doesn’t it?

It’s very part-time.  I’ll only tutor six, maybe eight hours a week.  But the money is great, because a) it’s money, finally! and b) I get 22 kahunas an hour.  Martha’s Vineyard, here I freakin’ come!

I start this week.  It feels good to have joined the working masses.  It’ll be a sign that I’ve fully joined their ranks once I start complaining about my job, which I can’t wait to do, because it means I have a job to complain about (however small it is).  YAYZORS!

Adventures in Networking, Pt. 1

19 Apr

The day after I called my career advisor, I logged onto my school’s alumni network and found some people who worked in management consulting, field that I eventually want to enter.  I researched their companies and sent them carefully worded emails, explaining that I was only gathering information about this particular topic and not straight asking for a job.  My plan was to send out a couple of these to see the response before I worked up to 2-3 emails a day.

This is how many emails I sent: 5 This is how many replies I received: 0

So then I thought I would try working my connections locally.  My dad is a partner in a medical group, and there was an opening for a low-level position at his office.  I asked him if I could have an interview with the Dude in Charge, and since they’re friends, Dude happily agreed as long as I submitted an online application.  So I did and thought, “Sarah, way to ride the coattails of people more successful than you!  Awesome, networking is totally for winners!”

This is how many days I waited until Vonetta Jones emailed me a rejection, sans promised interview: 2

Any other girl would be deflated by her results.  Not me.  Yes, my first foray into networking was not at all what I expected, but I have enough maturity to realize that the fault lies entirely with me.  As Ryan says, “It’s about being so impressive that others feel compelled to help you.” I’m just doing it wrong, and simply have to modify my approach.

Twitter-me-timbers!

15 Apr

Last September, I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal about using Twitter to find a job. I had no idea what I was talking about as a I fumbled my way around trying to justify spending time on Twitter as job searching. Now, I know better.

Twitter continues to mystify people who have never tried it. Many ask: why would you tweet about what you had for lunch today? The secret is that most people don’t tweet about their lunch or going to the bathroom. Twitter is incredibly flexible — it is what you make it. And recently, I’ve stumbled upon a great job use: participating in Twitter “chats.”

A Twitter chat is a scheduled time for people to tweet together about a single topic using a unified “hashtag.” Hashtags are denoted with a “#” in front of whatever topic it is, allowing everyone participating to follow a single conversation. Last week, I participated in #journchat — a chat about journalism run by @PRsarahevans (an “@” is like someone’s name in Twitter-speak). The chat involved the moderator asking a series of questions and the group discussing those questions. #journchat had 250-300 participants all talking about journalism, one my topics of interest.

How do you use a Twitter chat in a job search? Well, it’s a way to meet people who are industry-specific and to learn about the current hot topics in an industry. By “meeting” someone, I still mean you are interacting with them online. But part of the whole social media schtick is that it can go from online to offline pretty quickly, if you play your cards right. The key, like any networking event, is not to straight up yell: “I want a job!” No, listen first. Then participate. Show your confident and competent. Ask to stay in touch with people you “meet.” Another way to use twitter chats for job advice is to follow conversations about job hunting itself. This includes, my favorite, #jobhuntchat. But there’s also #CCchat and #HRhappyhour.

It’s no replacement for networking, but it’s something that’s fun, low-key and useful.

Networking and Ass-Kissing

12 Apr

Following up on Sarah’s questions about networking, I have a question of my own: why does networking always seem like ass-kissing, brown-nosing, being THAT kid who you just hate for their unflinching slickness. You know what I mean? I have felt downright greasy when I’m “networking”: asking strategic questions, talking myself up, and weaseling around conversations. There was a time when I felt disgusted with my handshake, business casual, and resumes in tote.

There is clearly something so off-putting for our generation about this “networking” thing. We’re told time and time again that it is what happens and to get over our emotive barrier, but the feeling of a conversation solely for the benefit of a job disturbs my moral compass. And you cannot just check that at the door. I can not look someone in the eye and make small talk when I know at the back of my mind that I’m doing it for wholly selfish ambition, nothing more.

Now would be the time in the post where I say something like: well, this is how you reframe your mindset to think of networking as a good thing. No, that’s total B.S. If you don’t feel right about what you’re doing, then stop doing it.

Instead, I would recommend thinking about ways to focus on doing meaningful work for others (solve other people’s problems) and developing a personal brand/reputation. This is clearly more labor intensive than shaking a few hands, calling people up, exchanging cards. It’s about being so impressive that others feel compelled to help you. It’s about having your work speak for you.

Now, this seems rather strange and possibly counter-intuitive. But think about it: how much can you really prove to someone in a single five-minute or even 15-min conversation? You can say or do enough to be liked, but you haven’t proven anything about yourself to people that will forget you instantaneously. But if you have enough contact with someone, you’re no longer networking. You’re in a relationship where you share about yourself and have opportunities to show your work. Networking is about limited-timeframe, single-goal interactions. Building effective connections  is about meeting cool people, helping them, and showing them why you’re valuable. They may give you a job or they may become a good friend. The secret is that it doesn’t matter because you’re giving and getting either way.

Yes, it may help to learn about more jobs through traditional “networking,” you’re more likely to get a job from relationship-building.

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!