Despite dramatic changes in job searching due to today's technology, one thing remains the same: people get people jobs! Studies remain fairly consistent showing that a minimum of 75 percent of positions is obtained by way of personal referral. Moreover, this percentage grows even greater for older workers, for those in higher-level positions and when the job market is tight. So -- there's no way around it -- you have got to get out there and network!
Although the Internet is a valuable tool for making contacts, you'll want to do the bulk of your networking in person. A friendly face and warm greeting will naturally build a far stronger rapport than a LinkedIn connection, an email or even a voice over the phone. People are more likely to go out of their way to help (and especially to recommend) someone whom they've met face-to-face.
Plus, there are added benefits to connecting with others. In addition to the potential for acquiring leads and referrals, networking in person provides you with the opportunity to meet new people with fresh ideas. Attending industry events, job search groups, classes and other venues all allow you to socialize. And getting out and about is the best antidote for feeling isolated and glum. A job search is difficult enough but it's next to impossible when you're depressed.
Author, speaker, and coach, Susan RoAne, recently published the Silver Anniversary Edition of her groundbreaking book, How to Work a Room. In it, she gives several tips on how to turn a roomful of strangers into contacts who can increase your resources and opportunities.
Here is a list of ideas you can use to support your job search goals:
- Learn to approach an event with purpose, energy and enthusiasm. Especially when you're looking for work, you'll want to display a positive and upbeat attitude whenever you're interacting with others.
- Although you're an attendee, consider yourself a host/hostess. If you focus on those around you and seek to make other people feel comfortable, you'll naturally begin to establish relationships.
- Begin the conversation with a line that will break the ice and initiate a ready-made interaction. For example, "What brings you to this event?"
- Dress professionally and appropriately for the particular venue. And don't forget to wear your best asset: a warm and engaging smile.
- Come prepared to make contacts but, most of all, enjoy yourself!
Another critical point to consider before working a room is your elevator pitch. Unless you're attending a formal networking event, it's usually best to start off with a 10-second attention-grabber... something rather light, yet memorable. When asked what you do, you might reply with, "I'm the go-to gal for anything computer-related." Or, consider this snappy example from one of my clients. She was a buyer at a department store and used the line: "I shop with other people's money." (You can bet that statement served to elicit interest and had people wanting more.) So come up with your own unique and attention-grabbing one-liner. Then, once your audience is intrigued, you can deliver your more formal elevator pitch.
And finally, don't forget to follow-up! Working a room is only successful if you create ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships. Ask for business cards and email your new connections with additional information on topics you discussed, articles that would interest them, or simply suggest meeting for coffee and continuing your conversation.
Therefore, plan to use the Internet for research and leads but use the majority of your job search time getting out and about. Attend as many events as possible and work the room with energy and purpose. You might just enjoy yourself, make a couple of new friends and even find leads to that job you've been looking to land. With the right attitude and a little luck, networking can truly prove a win/win/win!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!
If you’re retired and have time during the day, just take a look around. Your neighborhood may be the perfect place to earn some extra cash. Depending upon your community demographics, offering babysitting, dog walking, pet sitting or even errand-running services could not only bring in some extra income but also help you get to know your neighbors. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a need for those services, companies like Care.com – an online caregiving destination with more than 8 million members – can help you find part-time gigs for all of the above and more. All you need to do is fill out a profile online, and you’ll be able to send and receive messages to families who are looking for care.
If you have an extra bedroom or area in or outside your home – think room over the garage or carriage house – well suited for housing guests, renting out your home may also be a consideration, particularly if you live in a travel destination. Sites like AirBnB or HomeAway have become a part of the traveling zeitgeist and one-stop shopping for vacationers. All you have to do is set up an account and post photos as well as descriptions about the space and your area. You manage the bookings from start to finish, determine the lengths of stay and can even decide not to rent to someone if you don’t want to.
Do you dread cleaning your closet or hold on to things you never wear? Well, you may think twice once those forgotten frocks turn into dollar signs. Selling gently used clothes and accessories at consignment shops, like Plato’s Closet, is an easy way to quickly make some extra money. If it’s more than just clothes you’re willing to part with, Craigslist and eBay are still fairly simple ways to make a quick sale. Sellers beware, though. Depending what you’re hocking, the competition can be fierce. The keys to successfully selling your wares are often specific to what you’re selling. However, there are a few general pointers you should keep in mind: - Post pictures of the item - Write a detailed description of what you’re selling - Set a fair, competitive price - Be courteous and respond to potential buyers quickly and kindly
If you own a vehicle, selling ad space on the exterior – provided it’s well maintained – can net anywhere from $100 to $400 a month. Sure, you might get a few stares out on the open road, but the extra money in your pocket might make any lingering embarrassment disappear. Companies like Adz In Motion and AdverCar will give you price quotes based on the make, model and year of your car. If you own a vehicle but don’t use it that much, you can earn up to $1,000 a month by renting it out. RelayRides accepts passenger cars registered in the United States (except New York) that are model year 1990 or newer and have a fair market value of up to $50,000. What’s more, owners list their car on the site, set availability, pick a rental price and screen drivers. They also receive $1,000,000 in liability insurance coverage and 24-hour roadside assistance. Just remember to read the fine print and talk to an insurance agent about coverage before signing up.
Your favorite hobbies – like gardening, crafting, antiquing or even giving furniture a fresh coat of paint – can lead to extra income. People don’t always have time to pull weeds or plant flowers, so if you’re someone who enjoys putting his or her hands in the dirt, simple gardening may be a valuable service for you and your neighbors. Painting furniture is another one of those seemingly mundane tasks that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If “upcycling” furniture – as in making over a piece with paint and new hardware, like knobs and brackets – is something you take pride in doing, you should consider turning it into a part-time job for friends, neighbors and even loved ones. Can’t pass a garage sale without stopping? Buying and selling antiques is another opportunity to make some extra money. Consider selling the antiques out of your home or setting up shop on Etsy, an online marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors.
Etsy is also a great space for letting your creativity run wild. Are you a crafter extraordinaire or a burgeoning artist? Etsy is the perfect place to sell your creations. If photography is your medium of choice, you could sell prints on Etsy or even license your pictures on photo sharing sites like Flickr, who has teamed with Getty Images – renowned purveyors of stock photography – to help users license photos.
Are you immediately glued to the television as soon as you hear the Law & Order theme song? You may want to consider signing up to be an online mock juror. Sites like eJury and OnlineVerdict give prosecutors the opportunity to “pre-try” cases before they take them to court for an actual jury to hear. Payment, qualifications and time spent on each case vary per site, so it’s worth reading the fine print before you sign up.
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