The Easy Way to Network

Networking is a crucial component of a successful job hunt, yet is often dreaded and avoided at all costs. Here is an easy and painless strategy for people that shudder when they see the word “network”!


First, Forget about Networking!

Seriously! Forget about networking and even finding work for now. Having the right mindset is crucially important for this strategy to be effective.

Now, Think About Your Social Life

Think about your social life. Who are you friends with? Do your friends work in the field that you want to work in? If so, well, you’re already networking. If not, then ask yourself if you could become friends with people that work in your target field. The answer is probably yes – afterall you would expect like-minded people to be drawn to the same work areas.

If the answer is no, your task will be harder… Think hard about whether you will be able to enjoy working in development if you do not enjoy the company of those that work in it. Often your work colleagues are the people you end up seeing and interacting with most.

Now Time to Meet the Right People

You now need to get to meet the people that work in your field. If you are in another country, it is easy to find the expatriate community, as they tend to stick together. As with any group, if you meet one of the individuals that comprise the group, you can quickly get to know the whole group. Incidentally, this is another good reason to consider volunteering or at least visiting a country where people are working in development.

If you are in your home country, it can be harder to meet people that work in your field in an informal environment. A lot of development work necessarily goes on in countries where there is work to be done – i.e. not the developed world – and so you would expect to find less people working in development in your home country. Having said that, there are a lot of people still involved in development at headquarters, so don’t give up! People who work in development in your home country will not necessarily gather outside of the work place. Your best bet is to try and find clubs or associations related to development issues or to your field of work.

At Home

  • Try to join groups and associations related to development and/or your field of work.
  • If you are targeting a certain country or region, join groups related to the region and/or language.

Overseas

  • Try to join groups and associations, and other social networks.
  • Find out who the social coordinator is for embassies.
  • Look for the existence of informal consultant networks.
  • Go to parties!

Get Known

It is astonishing how important it is for people to be able to put a face to a name. By merely showing up as a live person you have increased your chances of being remembered immeasurably. As time goes on and you get to know people in the group better, you will start to make some friendships. Granted, you are not going to become friends with anyone (if you do, you probably don’t need to be reading this!), but even one friend is better than none.

Keep it Real

It is probably best to leave attempts to leverage job opportunities until you get to know the people in the group well and become friends. Obviously, people don’t take kindly to people that are “using them” to further their career. Often you will find that talk of work comes up fairly quickly in a relationship – people like to know what others do. Avoid being too pushy, but you can mention you are job hunting. Once people get to know you better, they will be more willing to share leads with you and give you assistance.

Take Time and Establish Strongly

This natural method of networking can work any time you are trying to network and in any field of work. Don’t despair and worry that you are wasting your time, by having a busy social life! It can take time to find the right group, but often will pay great dividends as you benefit from a far closer and more effective network than you would gain through traditional networking methods. These people are your friends, so they are actively looking to help you out. Similarly, you benefit socially as you meet similar people that you enjoy interacting with.

Related Articles

Have Your Say!

Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Do you have a question? Please leave a comment!