– Insight into the 21st Century Networking Art of Netweaving
If you’re like I used to be, networking is a word that makes you cringe. Why is it useful to your job search? I mean, isn’t that why we have the internet? We can search for jobs, without interacting with people, in the comfort of our living room (or local Workforce Solutions Career Center). I don’t even know with whom I should network. Why bother?
Well, the truth of the matter is, you can use the internet effectively in your job search. And yes, networking is an archaic idea. Fortunately, we can take this old idea and combine it with our internet-savvy to job search and mingle with employment leads more effectively. Netweaving is an idea that I recently discovered that has actually made networking fun for me.
Netweaving is based on the idea of “paying it forward”. So, when you network, think about what you can offer others: What do you know? Who do you know? Who is looking for a person like the person you just met? In turn, your networking contacts have now become an investment of sorts. Think about it – people who feel like you are genuinely interested in their interests and are more likely to be interested in you.
Try it next time you meet someone, even in a social setting. You’ve probably done it already…
“John, I want you to meet my friend Sally; we went to college together.”
“Hi Sally, what do you do?”
“I’m an event planner for a catering company.”
“Oh really, do you do weddings? My cousin is looking for a caterer for her wedding. Can I give you her number?”
I know it seems simple in a social setting because we probably do this sort of thing all the time. But, how would I do this sort of thing in a professional setting? Well, that’s where my own flavor comes in. I think many of us enjoy the social networking sites out there like MySpace and Facebook. On the flip side, there are professional equivalents such as LinkedIn and Plaxo. All serve the same purpose: to inform others about you, what you do, and what you are doing at any given moment. (My LinkedIn status last weekend was “Studying for the PHR…argh!”)
Why not use these sites to start your netweaving? Put it out there; you already use them to tell people about yourself, so why not go one step further and tell them what you have to offer—their needs. This is especially useful on the professional networking sites. Further, sites like inHouston (inhouston.ning.com) provide the opportunity to setup a page like you would on any of the social or professional sites while also providing an ongoing calendar of networking events. You can then practice your netweaving skills online and in person. In this case, double-dipping is okay! And, unlike my dog, you don’t have to feel bad about invading people’s personal space as we’re all here to “weave”!
So, give it a try. Spend some time thinking about what you have to offer to help others. Think small and big. Are you a good proofreader? Maybe you can help people edit their resumes. Do you have experience in international trade? Maybe you can be open to complimentary initial consultations for people currently in that profession. Be creative; you have more to offer than you think. Now, get out there and sell, sell, sell! – or, I should say, give, give, give!
Danny Zendejas is the Hospitality Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in the hospitality industry and workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.