I don't think they mean some CAT5 and a Router...
December 13, 2010 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Job Search Filter: How the hell do I "network"?

I've been looking for a job in Philly for the last ten months. I come from a sales background, but I don't want to do sales any more in any way, shape, or form. No way, no how, nuh-uh. After talking to Career Councilors and the like, I keep hearing the manta of "networking," and how almost every job you get is from networking and so forth.

Well, man, I think I'm up a creek. The people I know fall in the following three categories

1) People out of work.
2) People who are in sales jobs (who only know of other sales jobs)
3) People in non-traditional jobs

So, I'm totally lost now. If it's about who you know, then I don't really know anyone. If it's about finding new people, I'm in trouble because I'm just not that social.

What do I do? I'm totally lost here.
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (41 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
eh, that;s just an overused buzzword.
I'm sure "networking" can help if you have a friend or family at a company that's actually hiring and you happen to fit their background.

I was able to get a government job without "networking".
Boyfriend got his last two jobs (in the last two years) by applying and interviewing as well.

I still think it comes down to a good cover letter and resume.
posted by KogeLiz at 1:00 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: KogeLiz The thing is that I'm trying to transition into a different field, and it seems that nobody wants to give me the time of day for any non-sales jobs, which is why I want to step up this networking thing.

Oh, and I'm in the system for a job with the state of Pennsylvania here in Philly and interviewing for a gig on Wednesday. I'd still like to cover my bases though.
posted by SansPoint at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2010

Inquire about potential work from everyone. Your friends, your relatives, their friends, your old professors, your barber, your mechanic, you see what I am getting at.

Also, sign up at every temp agency in town that doesn't need money down (stay the hell away from those which do.) Every single one. Tell them you can work any shift, any day and that you don't need notice.
posted by griphus at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Print out some business cards with your contact information and press flesh at every meetup.com event tangentially related to what you want to do.

Think of it as the last sales job you'll ever have to do.
posted by sleslie at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: griphus

I do that. At least anyone I know. I didn't keep in touch with college professors. I keep running into the same problems:

1) They're out of work, too.
2) They only know of sales jobs. (Good lord there's no shortage of those...)
3) They don't know of anything, period.

I'm with a few agencies already. Nothing's come through.
posted by SansPoint at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2010

I didn't keep in touch with college professors.

Doesn't matter. If you have their email addresses (GMail has a long, long memory) or even their names (if the school uses a standardized username system,) send them a "hey, how's it going, I need work" email. It's not like you have an existing relationship with them that you are endangering by doing so and who the hell knows what's going on.

This is the way you should be thinking. Every person you meet, everyone with whom you have a conversation with, "how can this person get me a job" needs to be in the forefront of your mind. No flinching, no embarrassment, no pride.

...and business cards are a terrific idea. Make sure they're not glossy so people can write on them.
posted by griphus at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2010

It's not an overused buzzword. Networking is ultimately about community. You need to figure out what you want to do, and then you have to find and develop relationships with people in that community.

What do you want to do? Sales is an incredibly useful skill to have, and it transfers well into other occupations. Your profile says you're a writer and a web designer. You could combine those skills with your sales background to become an account manager for a web marketing company or web design company. You would have the necessary skills to do the job, plus the people skills to interact with customers and drive projects forward.

So, say you're interested in becoming an account manager at a web marketing firm. First, you have to identify what web marketing firms there are out there. You'll also need to know what they're looking for, in regards to new hires.

You can do three things:

1) Join a LinkedIn group in your desired field. You can join an international group, and you can join a local group. Next, answer questions. AskMe is great, in that the rules here are perfectly suited for maintaining your online reputation: when answering LinkedIn questions, always seek to add value, and if you can't, say nothing.

You will make valuable connections through LinkedIn, and hopefully you can approach them to ask for their advice.

2) Do some research and find out who the local employers are in your field. Try to figure out who the hiring manager is.

Next, cold call, asking for an information interview. Information interviews should be about 20 minutes. It's best to do them in person. Ask for whatever information you need. And leave at the 20 minute mark. Be sure to have a message: I'm an account manager, and I'm looking for work. Please pass on my name to others. I will contact you in a few weeks to follow up.

Be sure to "manage" the relatiionship with these new contacts by staying in touch.

3) Attend networking events. These could be Chamber of Commerce mixers, or career fairs or whatever. Bring a card. Have an elevator speech "Hi, my name is XX, I'm an account manager, and I'm looking for work." That's it. After the elevator speech is finished, ask questions about the other person (many many people do not know that this is an important part of having a conversation).

At the 5 minute mark say, "Well, I don't want to dominate your time. I'm going to let you go, and I'm going to meet some more people. Let's stay in touch." And then leave. Be sure to followup with an email within 12 hours. (Many people forget to do this).

Above all, remember that we are on this planet to help others (which is why employers pay us). Try to find out what somebody needs, and see if you can fill that need.

If you have a strong, short elevator speech, people will understand what your need is, meaning you can talk to them and find out more about their life. This is interesting - it helps build community when people know about each other, and you really need community to find that next job.

And a focus - what do you want to do?

And an elevator speech.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:14 PM on December 13, 2010 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: griphus
Serious question, then. What the hell would my college professors know about finding a job for me?

That's part of what blows my mind about this "networking" stuff. I have to keep pressing everyone I might know for the hope that something might fall out of their pocket. What the fuck?

If I'm coming across as frustrated, that is because I am. I've never been good at talking to people in general, particularly making unsolicited requests. This is absolutely maddening and stressful.
posted by SansPoint at 1:14 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not like you have an existing relationship with them that you are endangering by doing so...

What I mean is that there are no negative consequences for you by doing so. Unless you're a dick, most people are perfectly aware of how hard it is to get a job and will not be offended if you ask that they keep you in mind.
posted by griphus at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2010

You've never been good at talking to people yet you've been in sales jobs? That doesn't make sense. Something else is going on with you.

You sound angry.
posted by dfriedman at 1:17 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: KokuRyu
I'm looking, primarily, for stuff like administrative work, as well as Help Desk, customer service, and that sort of thing. I think it's what I would be best at. I want nothing to do with anything remotely sales related, because I do not like that kind of work.

With regards to research, it's overwhelming, and I don't know how to filter it down. There's a lot of companies, big and small, in Philadelphia—and I don't have any real preference as to the industry I work in as I can't see any real difference with regards to the work I want to do.

I had an interest in non-profit fundraising and development work, but I decided to let that go as I would need to get actual experience in that field, one way or another, and I'd rather just have a job (that doesn't make me want to kill myself) first and then volunteer.

God, I don't even know if there are networking events for what I'm looking for.
posted by SansPoint at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2010

Unemployed sales guy here - I feel your pain. Trying to change career fields in this job market is going to be tough. Not impossible, but tough. Any company hiring can probably find somebody with the background they want. So why should they talk to the sales guy that wants to be a developer, or editor, or whatever?

You may have to take a sales job in a company where there will be opportunity to work your way out of sales, or maybe find something with a start up that needs somebody that can sell, manage the website, and get the orders shipped out at the end of the day.

If your network doesn't know of any opportunities, I suspect most of your network may be lower level employees where they work, which could simply be a function of your age. A 20-something isn't generally going to have a lot of friends that are VPs and CEOs with a broad view of the business environment in Philly.

Maybe start something up on your own? It doesn't have to be a blazing success, just show that you have initiative, keep your brain exercised while you aren't working, and develop your own experience in something other than sales.
posted by COD at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: dfriedman

I am angry, mostly at myself for getting into this field anyway. I fell into it. Long story short: took a part-time fundraising job at a local theatre, but found out once I started it was half a year of fundraising and half a year of sales. I can manage that sort of thing for 3 hours a night, part-time, but even that's exhausting. Doing it for eight hours a day, five days a week makes me miserable.
posted by SansPoint at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2010

Serious question, then. What the hell would my college professors know about finding a job for me?

No one exists in a void, not even academics (although they're more prone to it than others.) You don't know who they are, whether they've held other jobs, who their friends are, nor what opportunities they have for you.

Let's say your old Professor Jane went to a party at her old friend Ad Executive Steve's house. The latter mentions to the former that he needs someone, part-time, to just do some menial crap. Filing or whatever. Jane, who doesn't know anyone who is is willing to do this, gets an email the next day from some student they had who needs a job. She emails you back asking for a resume to send to Steve.

You have officially Networked.

I have to keep pressing everyone I might know for the hope that something might fall out of their pocket. What the fuck?

You don't have to keep pressing them, but you ought to stay in touch. You have to spread yourself out to as many people as humanly possible. KokuRyu has some great advice in his comment.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: COD

I'd like to start something up, but man, I don't have any skills for that. My web design abilities are a bit lacking, and there's no shortage of people who can kick my ass in that field. Can't think of anything else I could do...
posted by SansPoint at 1:23 PM on December 13, 2010

Join LinkedIn. Look at the contacts of your contacts, and if there's anyone reasonably positioned in a field you might be interested in, ask for an introduction. Then ask that person for advice on moves into their field. Join a small range of active groups, too.

Attend Meetups, Barcamps and MeFi meetups in your area. Sure, those are social events but you can follow up afterwards with anyone in interesting fields who might be able to help you.

Admin work is relatively low-hanging fruit in that a lot of people need it - it doesn't require a specialised kind of networking. Are there any affinity groups you belong to or could join? Military, stitch n bitch, sports, country club, alum? Mine them all.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2010

Use LinkedIn to find out the name of every helpdesk etc (hiring) manager in your area, and give them a call. Don't send a LinkedIn mail. If you send an email first, promise to connect by telephone soon, and follow-up your email in two days.

Getting a job is all about numbers. If you think that only 2-5% of employers will have a job for you, that means you're going to have to make 100 calls.

That's the other thing about networking when looking for a job. It's a full-time job.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:31 PM on December 13, 2010

I… don't think this approach really works. I've never worked in a place where potential hires had to demonstrate some kind of platonic ideal of "hunger for work" in order to be hired. In fact, people who demonstrate "no pride" kind of repel and frighten me. Maybe it's because I really have no idea what kind of job requires that attitude. Maybe sales, where "sales" means selling CutCo knives door to door on commission. Where I work, we hire people based on demonstrable experience and technical qualifications, not a willingness to debase themselves in the service of "the new normal."

In my limited job-hunting experience, "networking" definitely has a place, but it has to be specific and focused. At one point, when I was unemployed, I was considering freelance translation work. I looked up the contact info of several local translators in the ATA database and asked them to meet.

Most preferred to communicate by email, and I understand. Job-hunting guidebooks assume (disingenuously) that you and everyone you want to meet works in a skyscraper downtown, where you can just pop out and meet over croissants and coffee for lunch. This is obviously false. Informational interviews are time-consuming both for you and for your contact, and they often impose a burden on their time and patience. I did meet with a couple at places like Panera and Starbucks, but they were the exceptions.

It helped to have very specific questions about the work my contacts did. People do enjoy talking about themselves, but many topics, usually the ones that matter to me the most ("Will this work pay my bills?"), are off the table in informational interviews. Coming across as someone who can realistically perform the job is also a good idea.

At the end, I learned several things about freelance translation. Among them was the clear realization that it was not a realistic option for me to pursue at that time. I stayed in touch with my contacts for a while, and they did send me contact info for bureaus and occasionally forwarded freelance opportunities.

The opposite of my experience would be someone who talks to his auto mechanic/supermarket cashier/hairdresser about nothing in particular except a wild-eyed desire for a job, any job. I mean, it's unfortunate that the belief in "the perfect job for you" is so widespread and deep-seated, but it's still there and you will still have to face it in your job search.
posted by Nomyte at 1:35 PM on December 13, 2010 [6 favorites]

First, I completely sympathize, I hate networking with a passion and while I forced myself to go to things I could never manage to talk to anyone.

You said "I'd rather just have a job (that doesn't make me want to kill myself) first and then volunteer" but I think that might be backwards. I'd suggest finding a group that you would like to fund raise for that has a varied volunteer base, and get really involved. You'll meet a bunch of people in a format that lets them both get to know you and see that you're a good worker. It'll also be something distinctive and not-sales on your resume. And from experience I think if all you do is apply to jobs 24/7 you will lose your mind.
posted by sepviva at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: sepviva

I'm already fundraising part-time. It doesn't pay my bills, though—but combined with unemployment it does. I've been doing it for almost six years, and you know what? It hasn't helped me find anything.
posted by SansPoint at 1:44 PM on December 13, 2010

Most preferred to communicate by email, and I understand. Job-hunting guidebooks assume (disingenuously) that you and everyone you want to meet works in a skyscraper downtown, where you can just pop out and meet over croissants and coffee for lunch. This is obviously false. Informational interviews are time-consuming both for you and for your contact, and they often impose a burden on their time and patience. I did meet with a couple at places like Panera and Starbucks, but they were the exception

This is true. I'm well-connected - I know everybody - and I used to have a relationship with an immigrant-services organization that sent skilled folks to me for information interviews. I had to stop, simply because people would take too much of my time (would not budge until an hour had passed), and would not do anything with the information I gave them.

I meet most job seekers these days over the phone or via Skype.

However, if there is a place where you want to work, it's imperative to get a face-to-face with the hiring manager.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:45 PM on December 13, 2010

Don't sell yourself short on the web design side. My web design business consists of finding a Wordpress template that is 90% of what the client wants, and tweaking it. It's not rocket science. However, people that don't understand web design don't know that ;)

My web business has come up positively several times in the last 2 weeks that I've been looking for a job. However, I'm looking to stay in sales and marketing....
posted by COD at 1:48 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Let me add that I think that a bunch of the typical career guidebook advice is, frankly, misleading.

Networking will not really help you if you're already out of a job and have no starting network in place. That's not networking, that's begging.

Networking will also not help you if you can't describe a specific set of skills you already have and want to put to use in some specific way. The idea is that people you get in touch with will, at some point in the future, think to themselves, "I need X done, and I talked to some guy who can do X a few days ago, let's give him a call." As a result, networking for work is best suited to occupations that measure work in projects: web design, technical writing, web development, etc. Networking for office work-type positions will probably not lead to a job.

The sorts of cockamamie schemes that a lot of career guidebooks describe are, IMHO, not really networking, and don't really lead to anything useful.
posted by Nomyte at 1:53 PM on December 13, 2010

"Networking" isn't as weird a concept as you think it is. A network is just... a community that you belong to that is related to the field you want to work in and that cares whether or not you have a job. Being a member of a community is expensive—in terms of money and time—but that is what makes it so valuable.

Importantly, networks of this kind do not exist for the sake of connecting potential employees with employers; they exist for other reasons (socialization, news and gossip, etc.) and only tangentially and occasionally for sharing information about jobs. As a result, trying to "network" solely for the sake of employment is bound to end in disaster. You don't (or shouldn't) make friends with someone just because they can get you a job.

There are no shortcuts. It is 100% about meeting new people, so you need to find a way around being "not that social." For me, the (incredibly expensive) solution was grad school. I didn't go to grad school specifically to "network," but as a result of grad school I became a part of a community that looks after the welfare of its members, and now it's hard for me to imagine being more than one phone call or e-mail away from freelance work, if not full-on employment.

I'm not advocating grad school for you, but anything that helps you become a part of a community—continuing education classes, meet-ups and community events relating to the field you want to get into, volunteer work, internships, projects you pursue on your own—is going to work in your favor.
posted by aparrish at 2:06 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

A key to switching fields is to be able to explain to potential employers how your experience in sales has prepared you for a job in whatever field you're looking to work in. It's no guarantee, of course, but it's probably better than networking in this situation.

Think about it: even if the person you're networking with does know of an opportunity, they might be left trying to explain to the hiring manager why they are recommending someone with a sales background for this job, putting them into an awkward position and having to explain that you're looking to change fields, you hate sales, and other stuff the employer doesn't really need to hear. I think you're better off just continuing to apply to job postings and tweaking your resume and cover letter to make yourself sound perfect for whatever job you're going for.

So, basically, it doesn't have to be about who you know, but about how your sales background will benefit anyone who might employ you.
posted by wondermouse at 2:19 PM on December 13, 2010

I am also horrible at "networking;" it makes me feel phony and weird and I'm just not that interesting. Here are some of the things I've managed to do to keep my name in the minds of people who might be able to offer me work. (I'm looking for reference librarian jobs).

Right now I work in retail sales. Through my retail job, which isn't super-pressured or commission-based, I've met a lot of people, and I've made an effort to get to know them--both because I find people interesting and because it adds value to the services the store provides. Sometimes these people work at cool places. One works at the AKC headquarters. Another knows people at NASA.

When I applied for a job at NASA, I mentioned it to the NASA guy in passing conversation and he said, "oh! I know so-and-so, I'll mention you to them!" Great! Network'd! If I had been super-interested in more than one NASA job, I would've maybe asked him for some contacts there.

The AKC guy, well, it's a headquarters building he works in, and one day I asked him if they had a library or archive there (because many national & international corporations and nonprofits do!) and he told me a bit about it, and asked why I wanted to know. I gave him a little blurb about my work interests, and that if he ever heard of any opportunities to let me know. I bet I could probably swing an informational interview with the archivist at AKC if I wanted to, and then I'll have made another job contact.

Do these examples make sense to you? Does your PT job allow you to form relationships with regular contacts? See if any of those might bear fruit somewhere down the line.

Another tip which appears to me to work well is to have specific skills to offer that will make you stand out among applicants. The people I knew in library school who knew Arabic or specific programming languages or how to negotiate e-resource contracts got jobs instantly. Social sciences librarians like me are a dime a dozen. I am a competent and fairly patient library instructor, which includes stuff like how to use a computer. I've offered one-on-one lessons to people in my community and ended up with a terrific job recommendation from an elderly woman who is a highly respected educator. That will come in handy for future applications, plus the experience keeps me involved in the field and looks good on my resume.

You want to work in fundraising--have you ever done any grant-writing? If so, maybe try offering your services freelance. You'll make contacts and add to your resume. If you haven't done it before, see if any local colleges or community centers offer grant-writing classes. You'll meet people there--students and the professor--and you'll end up with a great skill. It could be worth the expense if it gets you a job or allows you to freelance.

Finally, try volunteering. Not necessarily in the field you want to work in. Just volunteer anywhere. The soup kitchen. The Y. The arts center. You said you're not very social--well, volunteering kind of forces you to be social, and without the pressure of sales jobs. Yay! You will meet all kinds of people there, too. You never know how it might help--it'll at least get you out there more than the course you're on now.

Please MeMail me if you need clearer examples or anything. Believe me, I know how cruddy it is to look for a job when you don't really know what you want to do and aren't very good at the whole application song-and-dance. Good luck!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:37 PM on December 13, 2010

That's part of what blows my mind about this "networking" stuff. I have to keep pressing everyone I might know for the hope that something might fall out of their pocket. What the fuck?

In my humble opinion , that's not what networking is at all.

Yes, it's possible to have a situation where an employer just shepherds you into a job because you are somehow connected to them, but in my observation this is pretty much reserved to employers you are related to or who really owe your parents in some way.

It's also possible to have a situation where someone random gives you a really great lead on a job just out of the goodness of their heart. But in my observation, only people YOU have already hooked up yourself in a major way, will go out of their way for like this. (You should be hooking up as many people as you can in any useful way you can, are you doing this?)

IMHO the biggest time when networking is useful is when YOU will be useful to the person you're connected to. Not when they will be useful to you. An example, for the kind of entry level jobs you're looking for: when the *employer* is pressed for time in hiring someone, as in someone quit this morning and they need someone TODAY. Or, if the employer doesn't want to put forth the effort to do a normal hiring search for whatever reason. That is surprisingly common.

I don't know why you want to wait until you already have a job to start volunteering. IMHO that is going to be how you get your foot in the door and show the people with the jobs you want that you will be useful to them, more useful to them than applicants in a regular hiring search since they already know you, know you can do the job and can just call on you in a pinch.

If I were you I would spend all of my free time volunteering doing the kind of work you want to do, and looking for internships, paid or unpaid.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2010

Think about why the people in a position to hook you up with jobs you want would want to network YOU. What I mean is imagine that you are them and all your motivations are completely self-serving. The reasons they are going to want to network with you are going to be something self-serving. When you've come up with the reasons, imagine then that you're the employer and think about where/how you would go looking for these people you want to network with.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Last comment from me -- I think it's hugely valuable to be able to ask questions of people who have the jobs you want. Their advice itself is what is hugely valuable. I think it's very helpful to ask as many questions as you have of as many people as you can find who have the job you want and take their advice.

But make sure you stay far far away from trying to parlay talking to these people and asking them questions into them helping you find a job. That can really alienate them and make them avoid you.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:37 PM on December 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thing about volunteering and internships is that my unemployment runs out in February. I need something, anything, and quick.
posted by SansPoint at 4:09 PM on December 13, 2010

Bigger post coming, but first, an answer to a pertinent question.

SansPoint: "griphus
Serious question, then. What the hell would my college professors know about finding a job for me?

Depends on the field, but professors are commonly used in hiring in two ways. Firstly, they get a lot of people asking them for references, which means they get a lot of employers calling them. Professors have seen student's work ethic and expertise, so there's that.

Secondly, the people who call professors up to verify those references keep in touch with them. "Got any promising new graduates?" It's much easier for HR to scoop up the one or two people a professor recommends than wade through the hundreds you get elsewhere.

So that's why professors might know something you don't. Just because they're not in industry doesn't mean they don't know anything about it.
posted by pwnguin at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2010

Nthing attending meetups. Also, have you looked into recruiting agencies? There are some awesome ones out there like MissionStaff and Aspire. Even if they can't get you work right away, they're a good lifeline when you need to brush up your resume, your presentation in interviews, etc.

MeMail me if you want. :)
posted by Anima Mundi at 4:27 PM on December 13, 2010

I am also an introvert and I assume that the "networking" advice was created by extreme extroverts, the kind of people who are within six degrees of separation of everyone and whose idea of the best time in the world is a huge cocktail party in the penthouse of one of those shiny skyscrapers. Crowd surfing. Lots of shiny teeth. Walla walla.

This is my idea of a nightmare (the one where there are no exits).

If I was already interested in a subject, I'd talk to the people I was interested in, and not talk to people with whom I share no interests or experiences in common in the hope that they'd give me a job.
posted by bad grammar at 4:37 PM on December 13, 2010

Thing about volunteering and internships is that my unemployment runs out in February. I need something, anything, and quick.

Is there a reason you can't start volunteering/interning now, do what you need to do to pay the bills in February (even if it means taking one of those plentiful sales jobs in the new year), and keep building the network in the meantime until you find the job you want? Networking isn't something you do overnight and suddenly you have a job; it's about building and nurturing relationships with people in your field, and that takes time.

Most of my jobs came to me through those sorts of relationships, but I am an introvert and I hate the idea of networking for the sake of networking. I went to conferences because the conferences looked interesting, volunteered with my local professional association because I liked the work that was involved, and went for coffee or drinks with other people in my profession because I enjoyed their company. At no time was I doing these things in order to find work, and I've never approached anyone to say, "I need work, do you have anything?" But by doing those things for their own sake, I established connections that eventually got me the kind of work I wanted.
posted by twirlip at 4:48 PM on December 13, 2010

Ok, bigger answer time.

I saw a book recommended on the Green, called "Never Eat Lunch Alone". 4 star review average on Amazon. Must be good right?

Frankly, I thought it 90 percent sucked balls. The author's main argument are that he's successful because he's good at networking. Maybe. But it helps to have a Yale education to tap on, and to behave like a bit of a jerk. He even admits nobody would like the younger him. The one that was promoted to the youngest marketing manager ever, was asked to run for Republican office, etc. Even the book heavily name drops and self promotes. We don't see much about how his tenure was cut short as soon as the old buddy CEO left a month into this prestigious job, or how many companies he worked for failed (granted, in 2005 it wasn't yet failed).

Moreover, I'm not sure how much of his networking advice counts for people without a corporate expense account. It boils down to host large parties with lots of people and alcohol, and then harass them a lot over the phone. If you don't have money to finance that kind of networking operation, well, this ain't the book for you. Or me.

But there is a 10 percent that's useful, and it's probably the same 10 percent as in every networking book:

1. Keep track of people you meet, and how to contact them again.
2. Your network is grows like a tree, and only bears fruit after substantial care. Your chances of success via networking is going to be weakened.
3. The value of networking is information, and you need to give as much as you get. Preferably more.
4. The value of your network is the value of having access to different spheres. Your social network is probably full of people who all know each other and who all know what everyone else knows. So a good network is diverse.
5. "Networking events" are a bad place to network. Go to events where people who don't need to network go. Professional conventions are a good one. Knowing who's speaking and who's attending can be pretty helpful. So if you volunteer to help set up and tear down, you might have access to the conference roster. Still helps to know who's who, but you can at least avoid talking to people from the same company perhaps.

In essence, good networkers arbitrage the distribution of information in society.
posted by pwnguin at 4:51 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thing about volunteering and internships is that my unemployment runs out in February. I need something, anything, and quick.

Hiring usually occurs between Labour Day and Halloween, tapers off between November 1st and Christmas, and starts up again in late January.

You had best get researching, and start making calls during the week of Jan 3. The period between Christmas and New Years is also good, as some people come in to work (in order to get work done)
posted by KokuRyu at 4:56 PM on December 13, 2010

I am also an introvert and I assume that the "networking" advice was created by extreme extroverts, the kind of people who are within six degrees of separation of everyone and whose idea of the best time in the world is a huge cocktail party in the penthouse of one of those shiny skyscrapers. Crowd surfing. Lots of shiny teeth. Walla walla.

Well, to put it another way, I get energized when I meet other people. I enjoy networking events and I enjoy gabbing.

Not everyone is like this, though. However, if you pretend you are from Mars (or from another culture), you can learn the basic skills of working a room. It can be learned. We all have different persona, right? If you can cultivate a gregarious persona (that you can take off once you are out of a networking event) it's really helpful.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:59 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Something someone said to me recently about "networking" made me have one of those "holy crap, this is what an epiphany feels like" moments:

Instead of thinking of it as "oh crap I am begging people for work and it's all oogy", think of it as, "I am giving people the opportunity to try to help". People LIKE being able to help, she pointed out; they LIKE feeling that they have the secret "in" that will help another person. They LIKE having the special knowledge that will help another person. Your asking them about it is also helping them feel useful, so they win out as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 PM on December 13, 2010

SansPoint: sepviva I'm already fundraising part-time. It doesn't pay my bills, though—but combined with unemployment it does. I've been doing it for almost six years, and you know what? It hasn't helped me find anything

Really? Are you networking with your contacts at the organisations you're fundraising for? IE, do the people you deal with there know you are looking for a full-time admin job?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:30 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: DarlingBri
Do you mean the people I call up on the phone or the people I work with? Because the latter, yes, the former, no. My job consists of calling people who are members of the theatre and asking for money. Asking for a job too is pushing it.
posted by SansPoint at 5:06 AM on December 14, 2010

What you are trying to do with networking is leverage what is called "the strength of weak ties."

The research this is based on is oldish, but the principles are still the same. You need a job (or a mate) you already know all the jobs (or potential mates) that exist in the main circle you move in. You will have better luck if you can get people not in your main circle to be on the lookout for what you need. These folks are the "weak ties"-- they are people you know casually, often they are people with whom you share an indirect connection (your good friend's friend from high school).

If you haven't already, I suggest sending an email/facebook message. Or if it has been more than 3 months send another one. Send it to any person who you would say "hi" to if you saw them on the street. Or who you would open an email from. In the email, say that you are looking for a job. Provide some brief guidance about what kind, where, etc. "I'd like to find a full-time admin position in the downtown area. I'm also open to temp assignments. I'd like to steer clear of sales, I've had my fill. I'm reaching out in the hope that if you hear of something, you'll think of me." Maybe have a second part that is just a few bullet points about your experience. People totally understand and will want to help you out so long as you make it easy.

Don't work too hard at networking if it isn't your thing. For the stuff you are looking for, I think just working the temp agency angle will be more productive. But you should make sure that everyone you know knows that you want a job and what kind.
posted by Mozzie at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2010

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