Lost Nodes of Job-Hunting Networks
By now, we all know that networking—whether it is with peers in your field, friends, family, neighbors or acquaintances—is one of the most effective ways to find a job, because you never know where your next job lead may come from. However, the no-brainer methods of building a network such as exhausting personal connections (friends and family), joining a professional organization or becoming a member of a professional discussion forum, are not the only avenues to building a successful network. Let’s look at the lost nodes of job-hunting networks.
Back to School
If you have lost touch with your favorite college professors during your first five to 10 years of employment, you are ignoring a convenient network. College professors are excellent relationships to retain because not only do they usually have bounds of experience in your specified field, but are often in contact with noteworthy professionals. In order to maintain relationships with former college professors, e-mail is usually the best route. Dropping a note here and there, updating him or her on your accomplishments, asking for career advice when needed, etc. is all it really takes. And trust me, former professors love to hear about the successes of their former students. Also, maintaining such relationships may lead to some fun opportunities such as appearing as a guest speaker during his or her class, teaching opportunities and more.
In addition, most high schools and universities have alumni associations. This is probably one of the most forgotten networking resources. Not only do such associations keep former students in touch with their friends, but they also help you get in touch with former students whom you may or may not have known during your stay at school but are employed in your field. Often, alumni associations make such information easy to access as well. My former high school keeps an up-to-date database of alumni information, which is made available through the school’s Web site.
Earning New Network Resources by Volunteering
Not being paid for the time spent doing something is not a waste of time. Sure, it’s nice to have a paycheck in your hand at the end of the day, but potential career advancement or an exceptional job lead from new network nodes makes the effort completely worth it. Volunteer work may be done in your field. For example, helping a colleague on a side project or volunteering at your children’s school to revamp their computer network are excellent ways to strengthen your professional network. However, volunteering to feed the homeless, clean up litter, etc. are also great ways to boost a network. While volunteering, you may meet a potential network node that enjoys giving back to society as much as you do.
In the end, just keep in mind that you never know who is around the corner, in front of you in line at Starbuck’s or joining you and your friends for dinner. Always be prepared to talk shop and build your professional network. You can never have too many nodes on your personal network belt.