How did I do in my first month of the 2011 networking challenge? Better than expected!! I met with 4 people I do know and 7
people I don't know! I realized during my interviews that everyone genuinely wanted to help me. There is not one email that I sent for an informational interview where I didn't receive a response. I think this is because of the economy right now and people realize how hard it is to find a job. Job searchers really need to network and meet people to refer them into companies because there are so many applicants that you are competing with. Never forget that people are happy to help and don't be afraid to ask for introductions!
In the first month, I met with four people I do know - a classmate, an old boss, a college friend and a contact I had met at a school networking event last year. These were not the original people I planned, some meetings fell through and I had to squeeze one in at the very end of the month! I thought it was going to be the toughest to find and meet people I don't know. Well...this was not the case. The original few people I talked to knew others that they wanted to introduce me to. I met with someone my school career counselor suggested, 2 people school alumni introduced me to, 2 people in a new department at work, the founder of the beat the gmat
website, and someone that a friend introduced me to. I also attended a shark tank at school where I met 8 other alumni (yes, it is as scary as it sounds..more to come on this in a later blog post...)
So what did I learn from these meetings and informational interviews?
- I learned what the right professional organizations are to join and what certifications hiring managers are looking for on resumes.
- I learned that internships are key in getting your feet wet. You have to be willing to start on the bottom and work your way up.
- I learned about new areas of my company that I never knew about before.
- I learned how to be confident when speaking with strangers and the right questions to ask.
- I learned about other people's career paths and how they got to be where they are today.
Oh, and one more thing. During the very first informational interview I had after only speaking a few words, the woman asked me to send my resume to her so that she could refer me. She didn't even know me very well but she said the fact that I had reached out to her and that I am being proactive said a lot about my character! How awesome is that!?
Who are you meeting this month?
If you would like to join the networking challenge for a month or year, just leave a comment below with your email address or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that you will receive the monthly networking newsletter. Good luck!!