Many of us apply to job postings hoping we will be discovered. However it takes more than luck to find your pot of gold. Expanding your social and personal networks are good places to start. Recruiters suggest that more than 80 percent of jobs are still found through networking. "At the end of the day people hire people," says Gary Daugenti. "People pay attention to people they know and trust before an outsider they don't know." Here are 3 ways to expand your networking opportunities Social Technology Networking- Social technology platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Yahoo Groups provide online access to professionals, hiring managers and recruiters. Make sure your online profile, email discussions and photos are professional and position you in a positive way.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a networking tool that has grown exponentially. In January the site noted that they had reached over 200 million users. The site once primarily used by recruiters is now an enhanced networking and job hunting platform. Users can join groups, email contacts and network with other professionals, hiring managers and recruiters.
- Facebook. Facebook is an excellent networking tool to reach friends and family. People love to help people especially someone they know. Friends of friends may have job and hiring contacts of which you were not aware. By updating your status you can come onto someone's radar who was previously was unaware of your situation.
- Yahoo groups. Yahoo groups are an excellent place to find recruiting groups where the members are all recruiters and HR professionals. There are national groups as well as regional groups.
Industry Association Networking-Associations are excellent resources for meeting people and also learning new things about your industry. Join a network that aligns with your functional interest, for example, marketing, sales, or high technology. The goal of joining an association should be to meet people who are working in the firms that are most likely to hire you. Prepare for an association meeting just as you would a job interview.
- Elevator pitch. Prepare a 10-second answer to the question "What do you do?" That lets the person know in concise terms who you are, what you do and what you are looking for. Don't prolong your discussion about not having a job. Rather discuss what you have accomplished for firms you have worked for and what skills you can offer.
- Business cards. Prepare business cards even if you don't have a job. Typical protocol at any business meeting or group is the business card exchange. Prepare a business card that has your contact information and add in key skills or expertise that will help position you. Make sure you have a personal website and add that website address to your business card.
- Resumes. Bring a stash of resumes with you. If you meet a hiring manager or a key recruiter you have your credentials right in hand. Resumes should not be handed out like business cards but rather pulled out in a discussion if there is a job opening and the person is interested. Many times associations have booths with firms and employers on site. These are good places to find out about the firm, its culture, who is hiring, and also key contacts for follow-up.
- If you have children you may be actively engaged in a lot of school and after school activities. School activities, sport team meets, PTA and parties are all opportunities to meet the neighbor that you never knew who might be holding your lucky job charm.
- The local gym is another excellent place to make new friends and expand your network. Start by attending the gym at the same time every day so that you become a familiar face to the AM crowd or the PM crowd. Another method is to sign up for a regular class and take it each week. You will start to meet and learn about other people before, during or after class.
- Common interest groups. Meetup is an organization that posts groups that have a focused interest such as hiking, eating out or even job hunting combined with wine tasting. The Palo Alto Wine Group, for example, is one of the San Francisco Bay area's largest meetup groups started by a recruiter with a hobby of critiquing resumes while wine tasting.