August 28, 2011

It’s About Who You Know: How to Get to Know People in Your Field

There’s an old adage that it’s often not about what you know but who you know. That saying is definitely true, especially when it comes to hiring employees. It makes sense. Let’s say you are a business owner and you have an employee that puts in long hours, never complains, and does a fantastic job. Whom are you going to hire for an open position – a friend this star employee recommends or a complete stranger?

If you aren’t that friend, it can be frustrating to find a job. It may even seem unfair. The solution? Get to know people in your field! If you want to be the person who is recommended whenever a job comes open, you need to start networking now, not when the job of your dreams is advertised. Here are a few tips to help you get to know people in your field who could, someday, help you get a job:

  • Go to alumni events.

Almost every college hosts alumni events, and getting involved in your local chapter can help you network with old friends and meet new people at the same time. After all, you probably didn’t know everyone in your graduating class, and many people bring spouses and friends to such events. You’re expected to talk about your career and career goals at alumni events, so it’s a great place to meet people who can help you. Make sure to take plenty of cards.

You can also consider going back to school, since networking with professors and fellow professional classmates can also help you find a better job.

  • Work at events hosted by your employer.

Many employer host events such as parties for their top clients, outings for administrators, and charity events. Volunteer to be on staff when an event happens and be the best employee you can be as you’re working. It may seem like a step down for you to work registration or prepare for an event, but you’ll catch the eyes of others attending if you do so. Make sure to introduce yourself, because name recognition is important in any industry.

  • Join local business groups.

Of course you’ll find people to recommend you if you join local business groups, but the key here, especially if you belong to a large group, is to volunteer for a leadership position. Everyone knows the president’s name, but not as many people know all the names of other members. If you’re not ready for that kind of responsibility, at least join some committees to help boost your name recognition.

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