Today’s guest post comes from one of my online connections who I was stoked about meeting IRL at the Illiniois SHRM conference – she is one of my fellow SHRM media cohorts and an exceptional expert in HR. Take it away Joan -
A NOTE TO MY FELLOW BOOMERS - Back when you and I began our professional lives, the term “networking” was not in widespread use. We got our jobs and presumed that if we worked hard and long at them, we would stay working. No one spent time deliberately trying to cultivate a professional network for future job opportunities. If you had a professional network, it was created as a necessity of your particular job.
The economy was shifting underneath us, though. The country was gradually moving from manufacturing goods to providing services, and technology allowed businesses the flexibility of geographic moves and fewer employees. So when the economic bubble finally burst a few years ago, many of us had no professional network to turn to when they lost their job.
Yes, there are job boards and job fairs and even old-fashioned want ads. But statistically, most people get jobs through referrals. In fact, around 60% of all jobs are filled by referred candidates, because studies show that they make better employees.
But being referred means having a network of people willing to refer you to their boss, colleague, or acquaintance. And it is your responsibility to make sure that the world, or at least as large a network as you can grow, knows you are looking for work.
I recently attended a baby shower. As luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to a woman who had recently left the hospital accounting department where she and the hostess worked together, and was in the market for another job.
“I’m an HR consultant,” I told her, “and maybe I can help with your search. Do you have a business card or other contact information with you so that I can put the word out on my network?” Sadly, she had nothing to give me other than her name and piece of paper with her phone number scribbled on it.
In the job search world, this woman didn’t exist.
The lesson here? Treat every event in your life as a potential networking event.
Networking means establishing conversations with people you meet, being prepared to explain your needs if the opportunity arises, and offering to help them if possible. It’s never too late to start, and there are many opportunities to network that you may not even consider. Use them all, and develop a network even if you are employed, because, as a wiser person than me once said, you should expect the unexpected.
Oh, and carry a business card with you. Always.
About the Author: Joan Ginsberg, JD, SPHR
From police officer to law professor to HR manger, Joan has traveled a unique and interesting career path. Recognizing the common and vital thread running through those fields – a commitment to communication and honesty – Joan has fully embraced both in the new and exciting field of social media management. She writes about HR and workplace issues at her blog Just Joan ( www.joanginsberg.com) and Women of HR. (www.womenofhr.com) She is the president and co-owner of Castanet Social, a social media services company for small business, and the Director of Social Media for the Human Resources Association of Greater Detroit (HRAGD). She is highly active in the online HR community through social media outlets like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
JoanGinsberg (Facebook and Google+)