Job Search Trap: I Can Network Only By Computer

I gave a talk at a networking group recently about Manage Your Job Search. When the members checked in at the beginning they gave themselves points for their activity the week before. They only got one point for applying for a job. They got 15 points for going on an informational interview, and 15 points for networking at an event.

I loved it. When they went out to meet people, they got more points. Meeting people, in person, is key to a successful job search. Why? It’s all about the loose connection.

Loose connections is how you will find people to introduce you to people who will help you meet people on your target list. Loose connections will say, “Oh, I heard about that developer job (or tester job or project manager job or engineering job or whatever job) in that company last week. Here is the name I know.”

You can search job boards. It’s difficult, time-demanding, and the job descriptions are shopping lists/laundry lists of jargon, ridiculous numbers of years of technical skills, and something masquerading as cultural fit. What passes for job descriptions these days is a horror show. The descriptions are written for the ATS, not for the people.

If you’re looking for a job, go meet people. I know this might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, if you are a technical person. Even if you are extroverted, walking into a group of people where you don’t know anyone? Oh boy. Not the way you want to spend an evening, is it?

I have many tips about networking for shy people in Manage Your Job Search. Here are three:

  1. Find someone to go to a meeting with. That way you have a familiar face as a backup.
  2. Decide to meet just two or three people. You do not have to meet everyone in the room. If you have an in-depth conversation with those two or three people, that might be enough. You can always meet more people. Start small.
  3. If this is a dinner meeting, sit with people you don’t know. If you are with your friend, sit at opposite sides of the table. At a table of eight, space yourselves four apart. That way, you each get to talk to a different two or three people.

If it’s not a dinner meeting, talk to someone for 5-10 minutes—enough to get to know enough about them. If the conversation lags, you can say, “Thank you, I’ll refresh my soda now.” You can get more club soda or whatever. What, you thought you would drink an alcoholic drink while you were looking for a job? Start with a clear head. At the end of the evening, feel free to indulge. This way, you always have a way to end the conversation. Because what goes in must go out, too.

Don’t sit behind your computer and network that way. Go out and meet people. Your job search will be more productive and faster because of it.

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