Did you know that most open job positions are not advertised? To find a job in the hidden job market one should know the skill of networking. Networking is one of the most successful ways to find a job and even though it can sound intimidating it is easier than you may think. Networking is the process of connecting with the people you know and asking them for advice, information and referrals to other people. You can network anywhere and any time—in person, on the phone or online.One of the most common ways to network is at events. Treat networking events as if you were going to a job interview. In addition to dressing to impress, be sure to prepare for them in advance so you can take full advantage of the opportunity. We have outlined some tips below that you can follow to get ready and take initiative during the event.
1. Make your own or get business cards made for yourself. Include your full name, what you are specializing in, your professional email address, phone number, and a website to your portfolio (if applicable). Business cards are a great way to leave the person you just met with your contact information in case an opportunity comes up that is what you are looking for. In return, ask people for their business cards and whether you can follow up.
2. Practice your handshake and elevator speech. A great handshake and elevator speech shows confidence in yourself. For your handshake, make sure it is not too firm, but also not too soft. Your elevator speech should be clear, concise and engages the listener from the beginning. Explain who you are, highlight achievements and tell the person where you are at right now in your career and where you would like to be.
3. Prepare questions in advance that can help you start or join a conversation. Think of the people you may meet, the industry you’d like to get into and what exactly you would like to learn or know about it. Networking events are your opportunities to get your questions answered.
4. Take chances. The whole idea of attending a networking event is to network with people. Come out of your shell if you need to and communicate with others. Standing in the corner or only mingling with people you already know will not benefit you. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. You’ll probably feel more confident if you followed 1-3 to prepare yourself.
5. The networking doesn’t end when the event does. Remember when you exchanged business cards with that individual who said he/she may have a lead for you in the future? This is your chance to take initiative and follow up. Even if the person didn’t mention anything about a possible lead and you still have their card in your hands this is a great opportunity for you to try and reconnect. Networking is just the first step, following up afterwards is just as important. Whether it is by email or phone, send a quick thank you or even try to schedule a meeting for one-on-one time to continue your chat from the networking event.
With some practice prior to, you will gain confidence and will be all set for the event in no time. Attending the event with a positive mind set is also important. If your goal was to get a job by the end of the night but you didn’t succeed, don’t stress. You can always gain much more from the networking experience than just a job right away. Networking can earn you free advice, referrals and it has the potential to gain you credibility, professionalism, and knowledge.
To get you started, we have included a couple of networking events below that are happening in Hamilton, Ontario during the month of February. You can also check out our workshop calendar to find one (or more!) employment related workshop that will assist you with building your employment skills and participate in group sessions.
Hamilton, Ontario Networking Events – February 2015
Do you know about another great networking event happening this year in Hamilton? Let us know in the comments so we can add it to our list.