Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buckethead Teaches Central Florida How To Network

I have had the opportunity to speak with a lot of people in Orlando lately who are frustrated by a job search that has seemed to offer little in the way of new opportunity. I often try and provide resources and advice to help those individuals get back on their feet. The one thing I can never stress enough is taking the time to network. In today’s market people really want to hire people they know and trust.

There are various ways to effectively network in order to find a job. The traditional way is to reach out to your friends and former colleagues and try and make connections through them. The new way is through social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. The most uncomfortable way is to simply put yourself out there and meet and speak with people that you have no traditional connection to.

Buckethead Pink Slip PartyTo help Central Florida’s job seekers get comfortable with this third form of networking, Real Radio’s The Buckethead Show hosted a Pink Slip Party Tuesday (10/13) at Cheers in Kissimmee. As a hiring manager and someone who may be able to assist job seekers with employment resources I made my way out to the event and was pleased with the turnout.

Let’s face it; walking up to a total stranger and telling them about yourself and your situation can be very unnerving. So I was impressed with the job seekers that came out to the event and put their best foot forward and met employers and other job seekers to try and find a foot in the door with a new career.

With food, music and giveaways as a back drop, it became very easy to let your guard down, be yourself and just talk to people. It was much different from a traditional job fair or on-site interview in which jobseekers can get lost in a web of trying to impress the person they are meeting with. Instead the mood was fun, relaxed and inviting.

I had the opportunity to speak with a few individuals that I think would make great additions to my staff at the Employment Guide and others that I tried to provide helpful resources to in their job search. There were a few things I noticed with the individuals I networked with (both good and bad) which may help you all in your current job search.

Business Cards
In a networking situation it can be difficult & bulky to keep up with several resumes. A few job seekers had business cards printed up with their contact information, social networking links and even website addresses that housed their resume. This provides an easy information exchange with a prospective employer.

Plus if you are out at a non-sanctioned networking function, you probably won’t have your resume in your back pocket if the opportunity should present itself. So the business card format offers a great solution to this problem. You can order business cards inexpensively at sites like vistaprint.com.

Confidence
As an employer I also find myself drawn to and spending more time with job seekers who are confident in themselves. My biggest complaint as an employer is when I ask someone what type of job they are looking for and they respond with “I’m looking for anything”. While this may seem to open you up to all potential opportunities with a company, you are most likely not qualified for everything the company has to offer. It also does not tell me anything about your skills and accomplishments.

I know that it is difficult to walk up to an opportunity blindly and you don’t want to close any doors prematurely. But I promise that your conversation will go a lot further if you discuss experience & training you have acquired and how you would like to use that experience in your upcoming career move. Conversations tend to get awkward and clumsy when you begin trying to find a link between your experience per say as a customer service rep and the open opportunity available for an Account Executive. Just because you have done one doesn’t automatically mean you are qualified for the other.

Asking Questions
When networking with people you don’t necessarily know, it is important to form a relationship first and then figure out how you may fit into their hiring needs. By asking questions, you not only allow for a two sided conversation that both parties can enjoy being part of, but you will also save yourself that awkward moment as you try to find a link between your experience and their opportunity.

The answers that they provide will give you insight as to how you should position yourself as the best candidate for the job. It may also let you know that they don’t have anything you are looking for.

In addition, people become uncomfortable in a one sided conversation. They will begin to tune you out or start looking for a good exit strategy. By launching into a one sided sales pitch, you may think that you are setting yourself as an excellent prospect but in reality you are pushing your audience away.

Stay Positive
This was very refreshing at the Pink Slip Party because almost everyone I spoke with had a very positive attitude. One individual had been unemployed for a year, gone back for additional training and was still looking for a job. Typically at this point, people can become disillusioned and bitter. Instead, he informed me that he now feels he is a well rounded candidate who knows how hard he will have to work for a company in order to get his career back on track. As an employer, this is someone you would want to take a chance on.

If you come off with a strong and/or negative personality you will find it very difficult to get your foot in the door. Business unfortunately is too hard right now to hire someone who is going to continually try and buck the system. A social setting provides an atmosphere for people to relax, unwind and set aside the difficulties of the day. By staying positive you will ensure that your conversation and your first impression leave an impact for the right reasons.

I am by no means under the illusion that the job search is an easy thing right now. There are so many qualified people looking for work and not as many opportunities. But I do assure you that companies are hiring and you can get a job. Events like Buckethead’s Pink Slip Party are great ways to meet new people and find your next career, but you don’t need to simply wait for the next one to start meeting people.

Take the lessons learned from this event and others and start putting yourself out there. It is never a bad thing to make connections and meet new people. I wish you all the best with your current job search and we look forward to working with you as you find your new career.

This post was written by Patrick O’Brien, General Sales Manager at the Employment Guide.

If you were at the event, have questions for Patrick, or would like more information or suggestions, please leave your message in the comments.

1 comments:

Donald October 15, 2009 at 7:08 PM  

I was at the pink slip party. Thanks for the advice. It was different from job fairs I have been to and was nice to feel like I was making some progress towards finding a job without the pressure.

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