Posted by Brian McCullough
“Networking” is sort of a nebulous word for some people. What does networking mean, exactly? What does it entail? How does one go about doing it?
Of course, networking is just knowing people. And more importantly, it’s about knowing more people… and hopefully knowing more people that might be able to help you in a professional way. After all, if your current friends could help you find a job, well… why haven’t you asked them already? You want to meet new people from all over. You never know who might be able to open a door for you.
Here’s a quick way to network effectively: start volunteering.
Volunteering is a great way to interact with people from all walks of life in an interactive and pseudo-professional environment. You’re working together to get something done, and you’re demonstrating a certain level of the skill sets you possess as a professional.
The best part is, the people you meet getting out there and volunteering might be from entirely new backgrounds and industries you haven’t brushed shoulders with before. This is key. The lawyer you meet tomorrow might be married to an accountant who knows of an opening in her office that would be a perfect fit for you.
I used the picture of the youth soccer coach for a reason. It’s a great example of a volunteering activity that helps you meet lots of other working age adults. You’ve already proven yourself to be an upstanding and likable person… after all, their kids like you. And you’re in a sort-of authority position: you’re their kids’ coach. So the networking is easier and more balanced: you’re coming into things with a defined role and a certain track record.
I can tell you from my years of experience with youth soccer, there are always dozens of adults sitting around on the sidelines, commiserating about their kids and their lives and whatnot. It’s not very long before the conversation turns to, “And what do you do?… Oh yeah?… My brother’s in the same field… Oh, for a company on the other side of town, XYZ… ever heard of them… you should give him a call…”
Networking is where you take the conversation from there.