Many job seekers pursue networking contacts and events diligently each day. They connect with new people, consistently ask for referrals, attend networking meetings, trade association meetings, and professional associations regularly. These are all excellent, and critical for an effective job search.
However, if you’re looking for an idea that can produce more consistent leads and results, if you’re ready to crank up your networking intensity, if you want to turn your job search approach from a family sedan into a red-hot sports car… Read on!
As I’ve lead dozens of job search classes the last few years, I’ve seen some of the greatest results come from one strategy… focused, mini, networking groups!
What??? Attending large, broadly based networking groups can be a great resource to meet people from various industries and fields. However, they can usually be “hit or miss” when it comes to finding worthwhile contacts for your own job search. Creating your own “mini” group can take the best of aspects of the large group format and rev up your results.
Some of the best networking can occur between people that truly understand what you do and the specific type of role you are looking for. Create your own group of 4 to 8 people that are all in the same field or industry to meet weekly and trade leads and ideas.
How? Go to the large networking events to find others with similar or related backgrounds to yours. If you’re an Accountant, find other Accountants to meet with… or Controllers, or Financial Analysts, or Bookkeepers. They each would understand the subtleties of what you are targeting, and can identify appropriate opportunities as they encounter them. Look for appropriate potential group members at other events, out of your networking conversations, from your LinkedIn connections, or other referrals.
Once you have a few people willing to meet, set up a mutually workable time and place and agree to each come with a lead to share with others to each meeting. The leads might be a job posting, a conversation they had, a referral, or anything else that may be a good fit for someone in the group. Each person is responsible to bring at least one lead each week.
Be Careful! The purpose of the group is to gain targeted leads and ideas, and to be an encouragement to each other in your searches. It is very easy, if you’re not careful, for the group to fall into a “misery loves company” weekly encounter. If everyone (or even just one) ends up complaining about the economy and all the reasons they don’t seem to be able to land a new job, it will be a discouraging time in your week. Set ground rules right from the outset. No one is allowed to complain, and everyone has to bring something for someone else each week. The idea is to leave the meeting each week with fresh activity and hope!
Coopetition? I’m often asked “But wouldn’t I be giving away leads that might be a job for me?” That’s something you’ll have to work out for yourself. However, I’ve heard a great term… “Coopetition”. The combination of Cooperation, and Competition.
Especially with the number of candidates available for most any job these days, the best person will get it. That may be you, or it may be someone else. If it’s not you, would you rather that someone in your group get it, or someone else that you don’t know? Invariably in these groups, no two people have the exact same background. A position that isn’t an ideal fit for you may be a great fit for one of the others, and vice-versa. The groups tend to work most effectively when people share freely and openly.
Having a group of people that understand your field and target well is a terrific resource to gain new leads and information regularly. It’s networking on steroids! Try it and see.
Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.