Career Tips

The Mid-Career Job Search Part III: Networking

By Dave Isbell and Kim Medlock

How many times have you heard “it’s now what you know, but who you know? It is true, knowing the right people is important. But even more so, the key to managing a strong network is not just having it, but as with any tool, it’s all in how you use it.

Networking, particularly social networking (read: fun), can be the difference in finding and accepting not just  your “dream” job but ANY job- you just need to know how to do it!

For starters:

  • Everyone you know could be a potential lead for a new job. Put it out there that you’re looking for something new, mention a few of your strongest professional qualities and skills, and keep checking in!
  • Perfect your “elevator speech”
  • Find (or create) opportunities and meet-up groups and organizations in the area (this is where social networking tools such as meetup.com, Facebook, and Twitter, can be especially helpful.)
  • Be creative! For examples and a great resource, MSU alumnus Kevin Donlin (author of “51 Ways to Find a Job Fast – Guaranteed!” and with David Parry, “Guerilla Job Search”) has a helpful website for discovering some creative and practical ways to uncover new jobs
  • Brush up on interview skills and tactics

In short, get in front of people and add value to them!

While some choose to relocate, there are often local and untapped options:

Attend networking or job fair events in your area. Even if they do not result in to an immediate position, the events may lead to new opportunities through others in attendance.

Think small. Often people believe that the only way to advance is to “move up” in position, salary, or company size. This is not the case. Incredible opportunities with smaller companies are often not advertised in want ads, Internet sites, or other traditional measures. Try cold-calling or simply walking into the places where your skills or expertise may serve well.

Create an Online Presence:

IMPORTANT Everything and anything you put out onto your networking pages, personal or otherwise, becomes a part of your “portfolio” for employers to see. While everyone is human and needs to have a life, be mindful of what you post and how you respond, and imagine how you would feel if your future boss was looking at it. The more useful, professional, and supportive information and thoughts you contribute, the more followers you will gain (thus the more opportunities you’ll discover).

Next week, we’ll get more into the topic of creating an online presence with social media tools. For now, grab your phone and get in front of the people you know to let them know what you can do to help them! After all, the first rule of “networking” is not what is in it for you, but for the person you are in front of!

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Dave Isbell is the Alumni Career Service Coordinator at Michigan State University. He has been a Career Coach since 1999. He is also pursuing a Master’s in Social Work/Family Studies at MSU.  When he is not working or studying, he is enjoying domestic bliss with his wife and kids, or playing rock music on his bass guitar. You can find him on Twitter (@helpingspartans) and sometimes he writes about compassion, collaboration, and career for this blog, which he owns and begs other Spartans to write for.

Kim Medlock is a Michigan State University alumnae with degrees in Professional Writing and English. She works as a marketing writer by day, but fancies herself a creative writer by weekend. As a Lansing native who has always preferred writing as an artistic medium — she remains passionately in love with both of these things.

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