How healthy is your network?
Most everyone would agree that job search networking is probably the most important element in any career change or job search.
The MetLife study, “Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?”, lists nurturing your network as the third success strategy for finding work after age 55. I talked about the first two strategies in previous posts: (1) acknowledging the new job market and (2) reframing your experience into a value proposition when finding a job after 50.
If you already have a strong network, great! But what if you don’t? Maybe you’re not sure where to begin, or the idea of job search networking makes you uncomfortable.
Know What You Want
Before you go any further, take some time to get clear about what you want. Discover where your passions are. Your job search or career change will be more successful, not to mention more pleasurable, when your work is an expression of who you are and what truly interests you.
Once you know what you want, begin connecting with people who share your interests. If your dream is to start your own business, wouldn’t you prefer to have some successful entrepreneurs in your network? The people in your current network may not know much about setting up and running a business. As you continue to build and nurture a network that’s a better fit for who you are, commit to learning more about your passion. Then share what you learn with others.
The MetLife study strongly recommends that you make a point of connecting with people of all ages. Get to know and do some work with people in their 20s and 30s. Appreciate what they have to offer, and be open to learning from them. Encourage everyone you talk with to share their advice and insights. Share your own wisdom when you think it will be helpful to others.
Today, everyone’s networking online via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook (more on this soon), but traditional face-to-face networking is still considered the most effective way to find a job. Online social networking can help you find people, but at some point it’s important to get away from the computer and really connect with them.
I would say just be yourself when job search networking. Do it in a way that’s authentic and comfortable for you. At first, career networking may seem slow and time-consuming (after all, you need a job now!). But strong communities have always been built one person at a time.
How can you make job search networking work for you?