Friday, February 13, 2009

What does networking really mean?

I went to my first job networking meeting, the Acton Networkers Support Group. They're probably the most popular networking group in the area. The Boston Globe is (or has) done an article about them.

It was an interesting experience. I knew I wasn't totally prepared but I wanted to get on the mailing list and you have to attend a meeting to do so. Amazing how many people in attendance! There were over 40 new members there today. And from what people tell me, new members of that volume are showing up on a weekly basis. The organizers had to make arrangements for alternate parking and are now running a shuttle service.

So many unemployed people. Mostly middle-aged, highly compensated people, like me. Sigh.

What they do at the meeting:

  • They go over the ground rules.
  • Any one who has "landed" a job is invited to speak a bit about how they found the job. Then, they have the "leads and needs" section. People get up and ask for things like contacts at specific companies or a pointer to some type of information that they need.
  • Next, announcement...job fairs, who's hiring, etc.
  • Finally, the new members are called up to give their "elevator" speech. I didn't know this was going to happen before I got there, so I wasn't very prepared. But I came up with something coherent. No one had any leads for me, but then I didn't have a list of target companies. That's the best way to get a contact name.
It was good to go because, although I have an better idea of what I *should* be doing and a bit of motivation now. I've been very unfocused and scatterbrained about the job search. Still a lot of emotion regarding the way I was let go and still agonizing over why (no one SAID it was a performance issue, but was it? What mistakes did I make that I need to make sure I DON'T make in the next job?).

I now see that I have to start to be more focused and aggressive. I need to find people who know people who know people that would be willing to talk with me. I need a business card! I need to do a lot more research. I'm thinking that a start up company is the best best for me right now, so I need to get on the VC web sites and see who's hiring and then see if I can find a contact that gets me to someone at that company.

So what is networking? Simple. It's talking...not necessarily to a hiring manager but talking to people who know other people, who will lead you to other people. At the meeting, people were really good about saying, "I know someone here" or "check out this user group." And if you get a name, it behooves you to try to make some contact. They recommended trying to get a 15 minute face-to-face meeting (offer to meet for coffee or something) to get advice, information about a specific company, and so forth. The idea is to become "known" so when a job does pop up, someone remembers you.

For someone who's introverted like me, this task is difficult. But, it has to be done.

Right now, though, I need to do a bit of self caring. I need to get some sleep. I probably get about 3-4 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. Cat naps in the evening and early mornings. I'm exhausted. My mind is mush. And I need to start eating better. I keep missing meals and that's not helping the energy level. So, today, I will be good to me.

Next week, I will do better with the job search.


Anonymous said...


greendragon said...

Actually, I did send a resume there. I need a contact name -- does anyone know someone who works there?

Anonymous said...

Just call and ask for HR. They're a startup led by a team with a very successful track record.

Anonymous said...

PS Good startup recruiter: Don't know if he handles writers, but he definitely supplies for all the best startups.