Anyone who has looked for a job knows the frustration of online applications that result in rejections or no response at all. Worse, if you post your resume to a job board your inbox will be flooded with offers for insurance jobs or entry-level jobs that have no relation to your skills or industry experience.
The sad reality is that on-line job sites are a complete waste of time for most people. The jobs are either ones that employers have trouble filling or you are competing against hundreds of other people who want the same job. Either way, you won’t be happy with the results.
Employers don’t post good jobs on the internet. They don’t have to because everyone wants them and there are plenty of internal candidates or well-connected outsiders available. If not, they hire a recruiting firm to find them well-qualified candidates. Either way, the job is closed to anyone who doesn’t have “connections.”
That’s why you must network. You need connections!
Given the necessity of networking, here are a few thoughts that will help you overcome your fear and insecurity at networking events:
Everyone Wants to Meet You – People at networking events are individuals like you who are looking for a connection or they are an employer who is looking for applicants. They expect you to ask them for something and will be happy to help if they can. Other job-seekers aren’t your competition and may know someone you want to meet. If not, they’ll understand when you want to move on to the next person because they do too.
Practice First – Don’t start where it matters. You need practice. Go to a general business networking meeting or a Meet-Up group to practice your networking skills. Then, once you are feeling more comfortable, find an association meeting in your industry and meet the people that can help you.
Everyone Is Nervous – Most people don’t enjoy meeting strangers. There are exceptions, but most of them already have sales jobs. So, get over being nervous and go talk to someone.
People Like to Talk About Themselves – Don’t know what to say? Ask people about themselves. “Why are you here?” “What do you do?” “What are you looking for here?” They will be glad you broke the ice and will be happy to talk to you.
Make it a Game – Set a goal and see how fast you can achieve it. Start simple and then up the ante. Meet 5 new people. Hand out 10 business cards. Ask 10 people if they know someone that can help you. Ask for 15 introductions or referrals.
Ask for the “Sale” – You’ve gone to the event and met a bunch of people, but still don’t have any connections? Maybe you forgot to ask for what you want. It’s very appropriate to ask if they know anybody who is hiring or someone who can help you. That’s what the event is for. Ask for what you need and someone will give it to you.
Don’t Give Up – You probably won’t find an angel the first time you look, but keep trying. It takes time. Remember why you are networking in the first place – to get a great job.
Networking doesn’t have to be painful, but it’s a necessity if you are seriously looking for a new job. Get out there and try it. The connection you need is looking for you.