Resume Woes? Here Are 7 Tips to Get You Started

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

I’ve never gone into great detail regarding resumes but, given those recruiters come across at career fairs and in applications, I thought it would be appropriate to address the basics. Everyone has heard the basics, yet many people still struggle with creating a resume that will catch a Hiring Manager’s eye.

The first time I put together a resume I was already in college. I’d had jobs in high school but they only required an application. Believe it or not a resume was a new concept for me and to say I wasn’t very skilled in this area would be a massive understatement.

I’d mentioned to a friend that I needed a job and he wanted to help me out. He asked me to give him a resume and he’d pass it on. Not having a clue about how to develop a resume I fashioned what I thought was appropriate, including descriptions from the only two jobs I’d ever had. In spite of the fact that there was enough space left over to write a novel, I handed it over the next day. (Hey, I made sandwiches and I ran the cash register. I couldn’t create experience I didn’t have, right?) From the look on his face, I could tell my efforts had fallen short. Way short. Although he tried to hide it, he couldn’t have looked more baffled if I’d handed him a list of my two jobs written on the back of an old receipt. In crayon.

The feeling that came over me gave the emotion ‘mortified’ new meaning. I slunk away muttering something about being late to class knowing my sorry excuse for a resume was headed for the nearest garbage can.

Now, as a recruiter, in spite of much more help available than I had, I still see far too many applicants who also get an ‘F’ for their efforts. So, here are the basics for putting together a resume you can be proud of.

 

One size does not fit all. If you are interested in more than one field you need to have multiple resumes. Sorry, there is no way around it, but you can accomplish this with a few tweaks to your objective and adding or removing the jobs that aren’t relevant.

With the internet at your fingertips there is no reason for a poorly formatted resume. A simple Google search will yield endless pages of websites, many containing templates, that make this task easy. The simplest order for headers is as follows:

  • Top: Name, address, proper contact information, including email and phone (cell, not home for immediate replies)
  • Education: Name of University and degree (year is not necessary) or anticipated graduation date
  • Work Experience: Some like to list Relevant Work Experience, then Other Work Experience
    • This should include the company, location and start and end dates for each job listed. Underneath, list your job title and bullet point the most relevant and/or transferable job duties. (See example below.)
  • Organizations
  • Awards and Accomplishments

No need to list out your coursework. As a fellow recruiter pointed out, if you earned your accounting degree we know you took the 300 level accounting course. This wasted space should be used to showcase other accomplishments. (The relevant ones, of course.)

Appropriate formatting

This means using the best font (never Comic Sans or anything too casual), bolded and larger for headings or titles.

Don’t expect recruiters to draw conclusions

If you list a job, even if responsibilities should be obvious, include a short description and any notable accomplishments.

Mack’s Diner                           Detroit                              2014-present

Server

  • Ensures customers have an enjoyable dining experience
  • Trains new servers
  • Consistently averages ticket sales of $30 per guest
  • Conceptualized and implemented promotional materials to increase average number of guests

Don’t omit relevant experience

Many candidates skip experience that I’d love to see, like a salesperson at a local retail store who reached sales goals, in favor of something they think sounds better, like Administrative Assistant at a Fortune 500 company. Every recruiter is different, but most of my recruiter friends would agree job duties trump the fancy company.

Light experience doesn’t have to look like light experience

This does not mean you should bullet point every single task. I’ve seen resumes describing a 3 month internship that were more than a page long. Share the important highlights and save something to talk about in the interview.

Utilize a creative format and appropriate font size to utilize space the right way, but don’t resort to random quotes, irrelevant graphics or other fillers. They only make sense to you.

Your resume should reflect your level of experience

Oftentimes, people with a decade worth of experience opt for the same format as someone fresh out of college.

If you are experienced, recruiters should be able to tell with just a glance. Think Summary vs. Objective and functional vs. traditional.

On the other hand, a new college grad using this format could get overlooked because a recruiter might assume you are seeking mid to upper level opportunities. The same goes for an applicant with an Executive Summary applying for an internship.

Your resume should be appropriate for the job you are seeking

I once received a resume that looked more like an advertisement. It was 3 pages long, the first two dedicated to videos created, classes taken and, for some reason, loads of exclamation points. (Yikes!) There was no mention of actual jobs held until the final page. All of this for an internship.

While I applaud the candidate’s creativity, and it might have been a huge hit at a marketing firm, it wasn’t the right approach for my sales internship. This candidate’s language was also too casual and too familiar.

While all of this might seem obvious, resumes that come across recruiters’ desks daily don’t lie. Many people struggle in this area. Don’t be of them. Use these tips to make sure yours is the best reflection of you.

 

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First Job: Salary Negotiation

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Like many of you, when I graduated from college I cast a wide net, searching for career opportunities in several cities. The first offer I received was from a radio station in a little town–which meant little pay. Not to mention, it was in the middle of nowhere. So the search continued, this time closer to home, with hopes of a better offer.

I don’t remember at what point salary came up when I accepted my first job, but it was about $5000 more than the offer I’d declined, so I seized it like a hungry dog on a pork chop.  I got lucky–well, blessed. I’d been praying about this job in particular, and knew it was the opportunity for me.

During the interview process, I had no idea when to ask about pay or what would be fair. Back then, we didn’t have the internet at our fingertips and sites like Glassdoor as a resource. The rule was, never bring money up in the first interview. Now, having spoken to several recruiters, I’ve discovered we all have different opinions. I go over pay during my first phone call, but I still feel it is in poor taste to ask about salary at a career fair.

Interviewing in itself is nerve-racking, but salary negotiation can also unleash a swarm of butterflies in the guts of even seasoned employees. The idea, according to What Color is Your Parachute (a must-read),  is to let the employer bring up salary first.

A Starting Point

Many companies that hire for entry-level positions have a set salary, regardless of experience. This  gives you the opportunity to make an impact, prove your worth, and benefit from promotions, perks and salary increases.

This is what I discovered. During my tenure my responsibilities have grown to include managing the hiring process for 50 branches and 2 airports. Some of my perks include a company car and an expense account, and I have earned more than 6 weeks of vacation. With each promotion my starting pay became a distant memory.

The Total Package

That being said, don’t feel like you’ve lost out if initially there is no room for negotiation. Remember to consider not just the dollar amount, but the total compensation package.

  • Advancement opportunities
  • Travel
  • Paid time off
  • A work-from-home option
  • Health benefits (medical, dental, optical) and the cost per pay period
  • Company car (now or upon promotion)
  • Retirement (401k, 503c, 403b, profit-sharing, stock options, pension)

There are other things to take into account but, most important, can that company take you where you want to go in the time you want to get there, assuming that timeframe is reasonable?  Unless you are the owner or the child of the owner, you probably won’t become CEO in two years.

Negotiating Tips

Here are a few tips from The Doyle Report on about.com that can guide you through the salary conversation. If the company has a firm starting point, it never hurts to ask. In fact, it can demonstrate your initiative and confidence to the recruiter. As my grandmother says, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”.

Good luck, and make it a great day!

Networking: Use It or Lose It

 

How many times have you found a business card in your purse or on your dresser only to wonder who the person is, where you met him and what you discussed? That’s not a connection, that’s scrap paper. Or a book mark.

Don’t be a collector! Make good use of those contacts by building relationships right away. First, think quality, not quantity. There is no rule that says you have to ask for a business card from everyone you

Image by Imagerymajestic

Image by Imagerymajestic

encounter. You could meet quite a few people in a week—or even in a day (think conferences)—and you can’t be expected to remember all the details of the conversations you have. Instead, make notes on the back of business cards to jog your memory later. For instance, if you met a web designer, you might note:

Met at lunch on 1st day of conference, builds websites. Introduce to Tim.

(Tim is your friend who needs a web page for his new business.)

A couple of times a week, or daily if you have a fistful of business cards, take time to contact your new acquaintances in one of the following ways.

 

Social Media

Send an email asking if it’s okay to connect via social media. You can also ask this question when you first meet. Since most people are seeking to expand their network it is doubtful anyone would decline. Depending on the circumstance, determine if the best site is Linkedin, Twitter or, if it was a really personal connection, Facebook. Just a couple of weeks ago I invited several recruiters I’d met at career fairs out for dinner. We’d already connected on Linkedin but after our evening out some of us also became friends on Facebook.

Look them up on Linkedin as soon as you can. Don’t wait too long or you might forget significant details. Once you are accepted, transfer the note from the back of the business card to the note under the Relationship tab along with any other important details. Hopefully it won’t be long before you speak again but, just in case, this step will be a big help.

Do not use the generic invitation: I’d like to add you to my network. Not only is that a yawn of a message, you miss an opportunity to restate who you are. Not to mention, many people refuse to accept anyone who won’t take 30 seconds to write a professional note. This means you will need to use your computer rather than your mobile device to reach out. Identify where you met and, possibly, what you discussed, along with the reason you want to add them to your network. A student might send me a message that says:

“Thanks for speaking to our Professional Development class this week. I was the guy in ROTC who spoke to you after class. I’d really like to go into the sales field and I’m interested in the Management Trainee program you mentioned. Is it okay to keep in touch?”

 

Support Your New Connection

Set up a time for a cup of coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. I would suggest coffee (or smoothies for non-coffee drinkers) because a half hour meeting is much easier to agree to than an hour. If that meeting lasts longer, great. Something’s clicking. Use this time to discover other ways you might be able to be useful.

Check out their blog or Youtube channel, then follow and make comments on posts. Help them reach a larger audience by sharing their blog with your network: Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc. For bloggers and vloggers an increase in hits is reason to celebrate!

Introduce them to others in your network that might be an asset using email, social media or a good old-fashioned phone call.

Terry, I want to introduce you to Gail. You mentioned the need for an event planner and she has been in that business for 10 years. I hope she can help you out.”

If you were invited to another event, try to attend. Afterward, reciprocate if you can. Extend an invitation to your organization where you discovered there was a common interest. This is what I did with the people I mentioned in the first post in this series who I invited to my writing group.

Perhaps you met the facilitator or presenter at a workshop. Write a recommendation. No matter how skilled someone is in their profession, encouragement is always welcome. Make sure you have someone proofread it then send it via Linkedin.

 

Offer to Help With a Problem

Send an article you think might be of interest based on your conversation, not random topics you find appealing.

“Sarah, I remembered we talked about investments at the luncheon last week and I came across this article that I think might answer the question you had about making a budget. Hope you find it helpful!”

Did you meet a business owner or salesperson? Send a referral. Remember the web designer from earlier? Put her in touch with your buddy Tim. On a personal note, recruiters always love it when we receive potential candidates. This could even be the message you send.

“I enjoyed our conversation after your presentation at the Sales Center. I applied for the Account Representative position as you recommended and I also referred a friend of mine. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

 

Thank You

Finally, remember everyone appreciates a Thank You note. I write one after every speaking engagement which tends to lead to more opportunities.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your class. I always welcome the chance to share tips with students to make the transition from college to the workplace easier. I hope they found the information I shared beneficial.”

Decide which of these suggestions you’d like to implement first then allow your new connection to reciprocate or respond. You don’t want to be a stalker. If you reach out too much, too soon you might come across as desperate or annoying rather than engaging. After a reasonable amount of time, perhaps at 60 days and again at 6 months, choose another way to reach out to keep the connection strong.

Developing a lasting connection takes time, but can be well worth the effort for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Networking: The Conversation

This is the time of year when many colleges are hosting events that will provide an opportunity to network, including career fairs, panel discussions or actual networking events. For those who are not in school, many cities have network-after-work events, workshops or conferences you might attend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you make the most of these opportunities.

  1. Know your audience. You might ask an employer a different question than a fellow student.Photo by Ambro
  2. Be tactful and professional. Last year at a holiday event I was having a conversation with a couple of people when a business owner, bent on getting a client, interrupted us, ignored me (which is not easy when I’m nearly 6’ tall) and launched into her spiel. Several minutes later she finally looked at me and said something by way greeting. (Can’t remember what, I was making a mental note to mention her in this blog.)
  3. Listen more than you talk and ask follow up questions. When you do speak try to weave in some things that will make you memorable. Perhaps your sister attended the same college as the person you’re speaking with. Maybe he’s a Raven’s fan—tough to find in Bengals’ country—and so are you. You might realize someone’s last name sounds familiar and discover her dad was your softball coach in high school.
  4. Share a little bit about yourself. This is a good place to use some of the components of your elevator pitch (what is unique about you, what you can contribute to an organization, what you know about the company) or to answer some of the questions you’ve memorized (see below). You might also talk about hobbies and non-work-related interests. Think dinner party/get together, not just professional events. I received some great advice about being published from a friend of my sister’s at a get-together, and afterward added that person as a Linkedin connection.
  5. Start with small talk. This might include weather, information about speakers scheduled for that evening, the event itself, sports (unless you are or you encounter a fanatic), news items, latest movies. This will help break the ice before you ask more in-depth questions, but avoid controversial topics if possible.
  6. Move into open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a yes or no answer. When you walk away you want to have useful information. If you’ll be seeking work soon, make sure you know if their organization is hiring. If you need clients you should know if they have need of your services.

QUESTIONS

When you approach someone, shake their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself. Below are some questions you might ask or might be asked of you at a college networking event such as a reception with potential employers. 

College Event

  • What made you choose _____ University? When will you graduate?
  • What’s your major? Why did you choose that?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about your major?
  • If someone were to describe your school in one sentence what would he say?
  • How did you end up in this area (city)?
  • What organizations are you involved with on campus?
  • What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your organization? (e.g. sorority, fraternity, sports team or club, etc.)
  • What were you involved in while in college?
  • Do you have any hobbies or involvement outside of work?
  • Is your organization open to partnering with student groups for service projects?

The conversation might be a little bit different at a professional networking event, but these questions can also be asked of potential employers who are visiting your university.

Image by AmbroProfessional/Work Event

  • Where did you go to college?
  • How long have you been with your organization?
  • What attracted you to your organization?
  • What advice would you give me if I want to be successful in your line of work?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?
  • What separates your company from the competition?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise?
  • If someone were to describe your business/company in one sentence what would he say?
  • What would make someone the ideal employee for your company or organization?

Other Events

  • What do you do for a living?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you get a chance to go to (insert name of local event) this past weekend?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • Did you catch the game last week?

Here is an example of a conversation that might take place between a student and a potential employer after the initial greeting or introduction:

Student: Thanks for coming tonight. (Reads name tag. Sounding enthused because she did a little homework before the event.) Oh, you’re with the World Helpers Foundation. I just read an article about your record-breaking year.

Employer: Yes. We’re really excited about that, especially with the economic challenges.

Student: I’ve always enjoyed philanthropy and fund-raising. In fact, I’m the President of my sorority and we recently exceeded our goal for cancer awareness by 40%.

Employer: That’s wonderful. How did you do that?

Student: I felt like we’ve underutilized social media in the past. This year we made sure we put the word out about our event early through Facebook and Twitter, then on our webpage we highlighted cancer survivors that were close to our members.

Employer: What a great idea!

Student: Thank you. What’s your role at WHF?

Employer: I’m the Senior Director of Partner Relationships. In a nutshell, I’m responsible for relationships and recruitment.

Student: That sounds interesting. What do you like best about your career?

Employer: Working with people toward a worthy cause. It’s challenging but I get to be creative and I like seeing the results of all my hard work.

Student: I feel the same way when I’m planning events. What kind of advice would you give me that would help me to eventually get into a role like yours?

Employer: Well, you’ve already got a great start! You have to be comfortable talking to people and leading teams and it seems like you’ve done that fairly well with your fraternity.

Student: Thanks! Do you ever have any entry-level opportunities or might you be able to recommend some other organizations?

Employer: As a matter of fact, we usually have some opportunities at WHF.

Student: Well, I would definitely be interested. Would it be okay for me to keep in touch with you?

Employer: Absolutely. (Hands over business card)

Student: (Shakes hand and thanks the employer before moving on.)

Well done! After all your hard work, you don’t want to lose contact with the great people you’ve met so come back next time for tips on how to strengthen your new relationship.

See you next time!

Why December Is A Great Month For Your Career Search

The following was originally posted last December but bears repeating. Here are the best reasons to keep up your career search–even in December.

I get it. It’s not that you don’t want to look for a new career mid-December, it’s just no one is hiring. Everyone knows that, right?

Free clip-art.net

Free clip-art.net

Wrong!

I had this very conversation with someone last week. Not only did I tell the person she was mistaken (As a recruiter I thought that would carry some weight. I was mistaken.), I asked, “Have you even looked?”.

Crickets.

Turns out she was basing this logic on her experience with employment agencies in the past.

Here’s the deal. Yes, some companies wait until the beginning of a new year when a new budget becomes available before they take on the expense of adding personnel. But not all companies. If that were true there wouldn’t have been any public career fairs in your city in the past couple of months. Or weeks. Plus, do you really think we recruiters get to put our feet up on the desk for the entire month of December? Come on. We want to be busy. Busy hiring people.

So, in an attempt to take the momentum out of the ‘nobody’s hiring’ rumor, here are a few really good reasons to look for a new career right now.

Make a statement

Looking now could tell recruiters something about you. You don’t follow the crowd. You’re ready to dive in—right now. You plan ahead—why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. These are great qualities to bring to the table at any company and gives an idea about your work ethic. Just make sure when you get in front of the interviewer you back those qualities up with good examples.

One in a million fifty

Because so many people believe the “no jobs ‘til January myth”, competition is usually very low. This means your application is automatically closer to the top of the pile. You still have to bring the goods of course, but at least the hiring manager won’t have to wade through hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other folks’ information to get to yours.

Recruiters have more time on their hands

When sorting through tons of applications reviewing can become scanning for the sake of efficiency. But when your resume or application is one in a handful it will naturally receive more of a perusal.

After 14 years of recruiting and observing trends it seems as if everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. The number of applications we receive increases dramatically come January 2nd. But you, oh wise one, are smarter than that. Your odds of getting the job are way higher when you’re only being compared to a fraction of those in the New Year frenzy. You just might catch the eye of the recruiter (who would have otherwise passed over your resume quickly in January) and land an interview.

It Could Be Good for Your Health

Health benefits, that is. In most companies, the date on which you are eligible for benefits or perks is tied to your hire date. That means if you can start before the end of the month your benefits could kick in up to a month early.

One Step Ahead

 Ahhh… That is the sound of relief. Relief because, not only did you get the job, you’re already well into your training. And your friends who made that, “First thing on Monday, I’m looking for a job” vow are sweating it out without you. When you hang out after work next month you can relax and offer them words of wisdom. Or comfort. You choose. But, for you, the pressure is off.

Some of you are still not convinced. I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t have the time to begin a career search now. You’re doing your holiday shopping and the holiday party circuit and making New Year’s plans… Recruiters might not be busy but you are.

Trust me. Start now and you’ll thank me next month. Cruise on over to those jobs sites and start putting in your applications. Today. Happy searching!

The Daily Business of Networking

In my last post I noted networking events can sometimes feel awkward. The good news is, they are not the only venue. In fact, they aren’t even where I do most of my networking.

Image by winnond

Image by winnond

Believe it or not, you have numerous chances to network—at the gym, work, school, happy hour, parties, baseball games, church, organizations, reunions. Are you getting the picture? It happens every day. Since that’s the case it’s in your best interest to learn to maximize every opportunity, but also to know when to relax. Think about the past week. Can you remember a few opportunities where you could have made a connection?

A couple of weeks ago, not only did I meet the recruiters I mentioned in the last post, I also attended a breakfast that Saturday and exchanged information with an attendee who is also interested in writing—so of course I invited her to our group.

Recently I had lunch with a friend I met while serving on an advisory board to do some fact-finding for a novel. She introduced me to a local sports agent she knew that we bumped into as we were leaving. We chatted for a few minutes about sports and his role as an agent—I even mentioned an applicant I’d spoken with who was seeking a professional basketball career. Because I come across several Sports Management majors, as well as athletes, we exchanged information and he told me they were seeking an intern. Should I come across anyone interested in that field I will definitely make the referral. Not to mention, if I ever add a sports agent to a manuscript he’d be a great resource. The friend, by the way, has invited me to sit on the board of her non-profit.

Two years ago at a United Way appreciation dinner I met a colleague’s wife who happens to be a trademark lawyer. At the time I was working to trademark a tag line for future publications. We struck up a conversation and she answered questions I didn’t even realize I had. Later, when a company informed me they wanted to publish my novel I was able to reach out to my new contact to get a recommendation for an entertainment lawyer.

That being said, remember to use some discernment. Be careful not to pry. Learn to “read” the person with whom you are speaking. If their eyes are glazing over, wrap it up! As I mentioned, I am one of those people who never met a stranger, but if the person you strike up a conversation with doesn’t contribute they are shouting (silently, of course), “I’d like to remain a stranger, please.”.

When should you network? When it’s appropriate. If you gain a friend but not a client you’ve still expanded your network. What you can get or gain shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind even at a formal networking event. Think, instead, about what you are bringing to the table.

Image courtesy of stockimages

Image courtesy of stockimages

For example, while I love being a recruiter, when I’m out with friends the last thing I want is for someone to ask me to review their resume. And we recruiters get that question a lot. Just as my husband, an IT professional, gets the, ‘My computer isn’t working, can you take a look at it?’ question far more often than he’d like. I’m sure I have been guilty of violating this advice. In the example above, however, the person offered information when I mentioned my tag line which, after some questions about her career, led me to believe she wouldn’t mind a question or two. The fact that she gave me her business card backed that up. Again, discernment is key. If the person who is a chef says, “Oh I just love to cook any chance I get,” it’s probably okay to talk recipes.

Think about your skills, talents and abilities. What have been some of your biggest and best accomplishments? What have you learned from your mistakes? Who is in your network that could use an assist? This is what you can share. The next time you find yourself speaking with someone new think about how you might pour into their life.

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Image by Witthaya Phonsawat

Your roommate’s cousin is starting a business and you can build a website in your sleep. Offer to help or recommend a friend who can. You meet someone at a party who’s thinking about the study abroad program and you just got back from your study abroad trip to London. Tell her where she should visit and how to avoid some travel woes. While your pup, Champ, is racing around the dog park you meet someone new to the area who is in temporary housing. Your friend happens to be a realtor, so make the introduction.

Once you have the connection it opens the door for future opportunities that might not have even come to mind. The cousin could recommend you to others, the party acquaintance might think of you when she hears about a job opportunity during her internship abroad. When the guy from the dog park buys his house and invites you over for the housewarming you could meet your future business partner.

Don’t let another week pass without making a connection. Whether you find yourself at a ball game, your run club or grabbing a bite to eat, you never know who you might cross your path.

Come back next time for some Do’s and Don’ts for networking events.

The Necessity of Networking

LiImage by David Castillo Dominici,ke other recruiters, I am right in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year. I’ve just finished the two-week Career Fair Circuit with a couple more on the horizon in coming weeks. My schedule is chock full of classroom presentations and I am planning a Hiring Event to interview several people in a couple of days. In addition, last week consisted of a recruiting workshop with fellow recruiters. All of these events have something in common—they all provided (or will provide) great opportunities for networking.

So what’s the big deal with networking? Don’t think about status posts on Facebook. That kind of interaction might be part of the problem. We’ve gotten so comfortable talking to people in cyberspace that we’ve lost the ability to do so in person. On the other hand, some people have a limited view and think networking is only for those places labeled “networking event”.

I have no problem talking to people. In fact, nearly everyone in my family can strike up a conversation with perfect strangers (whether the strangers like it or not). But even for me there’s something…well, awkward about formal networking events. It feels like Skippy’s first day of school with his mom gently pushing on his back, saying, “Go on in and talk to the other kids.” It’s as if there is a drum roll and an announcement: “Let the networking begin!”. Often students gather with their peers, and employers, having been shut out of their cliques, wind up talking to…each other! So essentially all we’ve done is eat some great finger food (hopefully) and stay out later than we needed to on a school night.

I stumbled across this statement as I prepared to host such an event—(during our welcome we gave some tips to ensure success):

“Networking is less about meeting new people than having them remember you after the fact.”

Case in point. It was through networking that my local writing group was revived. A year and a half ago we were down to only two people due to some members relocating and others whose work schedules changed. While most people might have thrown in the towel, I knew if I did that the lack of accountability was sure to bring my writing to a screeching halt. I had to find some new members. Two of them came from a local writing conference where I chatted with fellow attendees. I sat next to another one when I visited another writing group. (I swear I didn’t go just to poach members.) And yet one more came when I purposely struck up a conversation with someone at our local Books By The Banks festival. I also invited a fellow university advisory board member and even a few people from work. Hey, I’m a recruiter by profession. Would you expect anything less? Now we have several regular attendees and the group lives on.

If I hadn’t been memorable in my conversation do you think anyone I invited would have actually shown up? Doubtful. How can you accomplish this? Think about the people you’ve met who you thought about long afterward. What stood out about them? For me, those people were personable, knowledgeable, accomplished, intelligent, humorous and yet, humble. Think about your most positive qualities and allow them to shine through to make a lasting impression.

Here are a few more benefits of networking:

  • Build confidence. Think of networking as practice. The more comfortable you become speaking with new people when youImage by cooldesign have nothing to lose, the easier it will be to talk to others in your network–approaching your manager with a new idea or a co-worker to resolve an issue. You could even find yourself speaking to groups in informal or formal settings.
  • New information. This is one way to learn what is going on in your industry. Who are the new competitors? What new products are out there? You could also gain knowledge that could help you on a personal basis. For instance, you could bump into a car enthusiast at a party right when you’re planning to buy a car.
  • Connect with experts to support your efforts. You can’t possibly know everything about your profession. You don’t know every customer. You don’t know every future investor, but connecting with others can help you reach new consumers and, perhaps land your own personal shark (for all you Shark Tank fans) for an entrepreneurial venture. But please don’t think networking is only about you, as we’ll find out later in this series. I exchanged information with the recruiters I met last week so I can potentially support them by sending candidates their way.
  • Teamwork is necessary for success–even if you work in a solitary role. The artist needs someone to sell his paintings, the musician needs someone to listen to his music. And we writers need people to read our books—and blogs. 🙂 Visibility and awareness are key to building your brand.
  • Opportunities to give back. You might find out about local philanthropic opportunities or a cause where you can lend your expertise.

Bottom line, people need each other and networking is not just about finding a job. Now that we all agree you should be participating, come back next time to discuss where.