Such an awful, ugly word.
Whenever I think of a networking event, I think of people dressed up uncomfortably trying to sneak as many cheese samples at the snack table as possible.
There's also that guy, who just seems a little too slick. With business cards in hand, he seems like he's "working the room". But with every conversation, his eyes are darting around the room looking for more important people and making the people he interacts with feel like pawns in his little networking game.
Don't be this person.
It's not what true networking is.
Whenever I ask my friends about how they got their jobs, it is so rarely that they went to a career fair or networking event and happened to come upon the right person while they were looking for a job.
The process usually goes,
- apply for them,
- fail at getting the position,
- build relationship with recruiter
- get job in the future
What can we extract from that?
You need to build a relationship either similar to this or through the recommendation of mutual friends. You can't afford to just go up to someone and ask them for a job.
Think about it in terms of dating.
You wouldn't just go up to a girl and ask her to be your wife! (ok maybe for jokes)
You have to build trust first, whether that comes through an organic friendship or a recommendation from a friend. That's how I got hired for most of my jobs and how a lot of my friends got theirs.
Don't put off "networking" because you're not ready.
You don't need to be ready. You should be building relationships before you're ready. That way, you've built trust and opportunities before you ever needed it.
When the time is right, you'll be glad you did.
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For more on making relationships and NOT networking, check out the book "Never Eat Alone".