How To Build Local Job Search Networks That Pay Off

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services
For many people, local community networking can be intimidating,  it’s far less pressure  to scroll through endless pages on job boards and social networking online where there’s no possibility of rejection or personal interaction. But putting yourself out there and making contacts with strangers in your local community—can be scary, and besides isn’t it a bit old-hat now there’s the Internet. Networking is a powerful job search tool and  is essential to sustained employability in this increasingly uncertain world of work, and if you go about it the right way it doesn’t have to be painful.  Online social networks are important of course, but let’s look at some great off-line resources and how to make the most of them.


Maybe Crazy Aunt Aggie Isn’t

Your family is the most obvious component of your personal network, and also the easiest to misuse. Typically, family members understand next to nothing about what you plan to do for a living, but don’t ever discount the value of the members of your family-and-friends networks—they really want to help you, and although many of them still think of you as a snotty ten-

For more advice for emerging professionals,
check out “Knock Em Dead Secrets & Strategies
 For First Time Job Seekers” available on Amazon

year-old, given the right information they can be surprisingly helpful.

Case in point: In 1985, my first book was published. Although I’ve lived here in the States for most of my life, I’m English by birth, and that year I flew home to see my parents for Christmas. My crazy old mother played bridge for years with another crazy old biddy in tweeds and twin sets. I had never taken the old biddy seriously, but that year it turned out she knew someone who owned a publishing company. The result? My first foreign rights sale came from two ladies in their seventies who hadn’t ever worked in the professional world, and today, twenty-seven years later, that book is still in print in England. So don’t dismiss  your crazy old Aunt Aggie. She’s anxious to help if only you’ll show her how—but don’t complicate matters with information she, or other family members don’t need or understand.


Tailor The Message To Your Audience
Even if they have nothing to do with the professional world or have only occasional contact with terrestrials, given the right guidance your immediate family circle and your local personal networks can cast a wide net and come up with useful leads. The problem is that it is easy to squander this potentially valuable resource by tapping into it too soon, before you have thought through how best to help your extended family help you.

Here are the steps that make it easier for your loved ones to help you:
  1. Think carefully about what you want to do for a living and put it in a one- or two-sentence description that even Aunt Aggie can grasp.
  2. Think about the type of company you will work for and the kind of people you need to talk to. Condense this into simple terms and into a one- or two-sentence explanation: “I’m looking for a job with a computer company. It would be great if you or your friends knew anyone who also works with computers.” Remember KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.
  3.  Give them the information you need to get in touch with useful contacts: “All I need are the names of people who work with computers. I’m not looking for someone to hire me; I just want to talk to people who also work with computers.”
This process of breaking your networking needs into just three simple statements gives your immediate circle something they can process. This same no-frills approach will work with little change with contacts in your other personal networks.

Civic, Social, and Spiritual Associations
Local networks take more time and effort, but they do result in jobs, and they also involve you in the community at this difficult time of transition into the workforce, and avoiding the psychological isolation that too often accompanies job search is invaluable in itself. If you are prepared to reach out and become part of new groups in your community, not as a kid but as young professional, it will help you define your new persona and your personal networking skills, and who knows, you might even get a job lead or two, or god forbid – a date!

Your local community is an important source of information, but don’t buttonhole people at a first meeting with demands for information about job openings. Spend time getting to know them and become part of the group.Two or three evenings a week building local networks rather than playing Warfare or Dungeons & Dragons is time well-invested.

Other Community-Based Networks
What can you do to build community-based social networks if you don’t belong to a church and haven’t played in the same softball league since elementary school? Whatever interests you also interests others, so you can always find a way to connect with like-minded people. While such groups might not have the same value as LinkedIn, an alumni or professional association, we all have to work somewhere, so you could meet some professionally relevant people. There are sites like Meetup.com which exist to help people all over the country connect online and meet offline to pursue common interests. There are groups for every interest.

Volunteer & Meet Local Executives
Volunteering affords many opportunities to meet people with common interests. Rich Grant,  Director of Career Services at Thomas College, recommends volunteer work as both personally fulfilling and a great way to expand your contacts: “Volunteer in your community; gain experience on non-profit boards or working on special projects for a charitable organization.” All these networks have boards staffed with volunteers from the local business community, so while the Chairman of a local bank might never normally give you the time of day, that you can cite a blood drive that she chaired and you volunteered for might just give you a unique and collegial introduction.

Volunteer for any cause that grabs your fancy. Here are some ideas:
  • Join the Humane Society. It attracts a wide swathe of the community.
  • Become active in the United Way, which supports a wide variety of good causes; visit their website (www.unitedway.org) or give them a call and they can put you in touch with a group that resonates.
  • Tutor at a community center.
  • Start coaching sports.
  • Volunteer at food banks and soup kitchens.
  • Docent for museums and related ventures.
Expanding these networks can bring you closer to family, strengthen community ties, and be personally and emotionally fulfilling. And since job searches are a stressful time when you are likely to retreat into yourself and stay at home, networking activities can be a great way to get you out of the house and involved in social activities with other people: personal fulfillment and professional advancement for the price of one! Learn more about how emerging professional can build meaningful networks in my newest book Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.
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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
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