I participate as a coach in a program called “CareerTrack”. It is run by TechColumbus (www.techcolumbus.org), a organization that does a wonderful job of promoting the technology community and business here in central Ohio.
The CareerTrack program provides services to job seekers in the technology market place to assist them in landing their next position. Among other things, we have monthly meetings where speakers present a topic, and and provide opportunities for networking and exchange of ideas. An additional benefit of CareerTrack is that the job seeker gets one on one time with a career coach to be used in any manner desired (resume’ review, interviewing, how to look for positions, etc.).
Surprisingly, not all of the program participants take advantage of this coaching session, in spite of the fact that those who have used it provide positive reviews. I also see many of the same faces come to the monthly meetings who do not participate in discussions, or who keep to themselves during networking time.
A key themes with job seekers (and all professionals for that matter) is the need to constantly network, speak with other professionals and stay in touch with the market and opportunities. Now, I realize that a lot of technology folks aren’t necessarily extroverts, so meeting new folks and striking up conversation is not something that comes naturally. I spend many of my coaching sessions in networking role plays with job seekers, and provide tips on what to do when they meet new people.
We are talking basic stuff: what to say, how to introduce yourself, etc. So, I thought “I’ll make my next blog post about how to network”.
Thankfully, this has been already been addressed by others: http://tinyurl.com/2eg3t9a
In her post, Debbie Langford brings up a number of great points as well as resources for learning how to network, and there is way too much to cover in a simple post. Her key message is not so much technique related but more along the lines of “getting your head in the right place”, and “becoming the type of person others want to meet” so that you become a successful networker. This, I find, is key in many fields of endeavor and being connected is a common characteristic of successful individuals in all walks of life.
In summary, if you are struggling with the whole concept of networking, there is a lot that can be gained by revisiting what we learned in our Psych 101. Spend some time reaquainting yourself with principles and basics of positive human interaction, remembering what we all know down deep, and networking will become a lot easier.