So I was recently chatting with my paralegal/legal assistant, who I asked, “what would you want to know about networking?” It just so happens that she is applying to law schools right now, so she seemed like a good test case. She mentioned, that much like dating, she wants to know where to find good people to meet.
Of course! We spend a lot of time on this blog about how to approach people, but I also like to give proper time to engaging people on where best to meet folks with whom you want to network. And as always, it’s based on GOALS. With that in mind, this week I am starting off with a 3 week series on where to find your networking opportunity.
I usually find people network in a business setting for 3 key things (a person’s goal for networking):
I think all three are of course worthy and valuable, and all three only happen if you build and foster great relationships. So where do you find these relationships?
Where To Find A Job
If your goal is to find employment with someone, then your best avenue for networking is to be in front of as many decision makers as possible. Now, what is a decision maker? Presidents, managers, supervisors, people who have the authority influence hiring. And this is not always the HR person, mind you.
So where do I like finding these people? Here is a listing:
1) Alumni Associations – Many undergraduate and graduate alumni associations have events which bring out a myriad of people. They are not always in your particular industry, but I love alumni associations for easy access to people who might be 20 years or so my senior and may be potential decisions makers. By the way, I exclude “young” alumni groups as the decision makers are usually not “young” anymore (don’t judge me, it’s just an observation).
2) Industry Specific Directories – In the legal world there are several attorney directories (often hosted by the state bar website) that allow you to search for attorneys by school they went to or hobbies or practice areas. I like to search these databases to find a common thread with someone who might be a potential decision maker and ask someone to coffee to talk about our common interest or experience.
3) Meetups – I always preach how good a resource meetup.com is and because everyone who goes to a meet up is there to network. If you are looking for a career or job in a particular career area, find meetups where you might run into people who run those companies. In the tech world there are often “co-founder” meetups where people will often look to hire developers for equity or money or both (just one industry example).
4) Non Profit Boards – Often decision makers are people who are a little further along in their careers. These folks, or their supposes with frequently join boards of non profits to begin giving back to the community. Think of using some spare time to volunteer on a board, or advisory board. Call an executive director of a charity that looks like it has bard members who would be good to work for and see if there are volunteer opportunities or opportunities to get on the board. Sometimes putting in that sweat equity into a board will make you a prime candidate for a job.
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive, but I like bringing up some ideas on where you might find your next best opportunity to network for a job. Do you have some suggestions? Please comment. And watch for parts 2 and 3.