Tag Archives: career networking

Job-seeker buddy groups: 6 pros, 2 cons

How do you react when you hear the word networkingDo you feel uncomfortable, roll your eyes, or even break out in a sweat? You’re not alone if the prospect of networking doesn’t make you jump for joy. Truth be known, most people don’t relish the idea of networking.


Truth also be known, networking remains the most effective way to get referred for jobs that aren’t advertised. According to Jobvite.com, 40% of hires come from referrals, twice the number than the next option, the company’s website. So networking seems like a no-brainer.

I’m not here to say you shouldn’t network. I’m here to say try networking in a different way. Join a buddy group.

Pros of Buddy Groups

Smaller and more intimate

Buddy groups generally number six—some smaller, others larger. In a smaller group, members keep track of each other, making it easier for the members to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that fit each other. This is not always possible with large networking groups, which consist of 20 to 80 people.

Large groups can also be intimidating, which leads me to my next benefit of buddy groups.

Ideal for introverts

Speaking as an introvert, I’m more comfortable in smaller group settings than large groups. The size of buddy groups makes it easier to know each member and develop deeper relationships, which is ideal for introverts.

This is not to say introverts will back away from large networking groups. If they attend larger groups, their goal is to talk to fewer people to have deeper conversations. Extraverts, on the other hand, enjoy “working the room.”

Members are held accountable

Buddy groups that gather on a regular basis  are more likely to hold their members accountable for their job-search actions. If, for example, a member says during a meeting, that he will schedule four coffee meetings the following week, he will be questioned about scheduling those meetings the next time the group meets.

Keeping track of job seekers at large networking groups is extremely difficult. Often job seekers will come an go to large networking groups. You might see some members sporadically.

Meetings can be mobile


Unlike large networking groups which are held at the same place, at the same time;  buddy groups can be held at different locations. Because buddy groups are usually held where its members prefer, there are more options. Perhaps the location is decided  based on each members’ hometown, or the members’ choice of cafe, as examples.

On the other hand, buddy group member might prefer holding their meetings at the same location for consistency.  I know of one buddy group that meets at the same restaurant before their large networking event.

Joining one requires an invitation

Buddy groups can be formed to include members who share similar interests and occupations. Software engineers, project managers, hardware engineers might create a skills share group, consisting of six to 10 people, who gather to work on a project.

Or the members of a buddy group might prefer a variety of occupations. As one job seeker said, “We would all be applying to the same jobs, and I think that would make it more competitive, when it should be supportive.”

Gets you out of the house

As inconsequential this may sound, getting out your house where you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for six hours a day, until it starts humming at you; it’s important for your state of mind.

This will be part of your routine. You’ll look forward to meeting with your buddies at a specific time, maybe a particular place–although as stated earlier, the location might change.

Read 6 tips for getting out of your house during your job search.

Some Cons of Buddy Groups

Although great in concept, buddy groups can have their drawbacks. After all, they are intimate groups that meet on a consistent basis. With consistency comes conflict.

Might become stagnant

One of buddy groups’ strengths, their consistent meetings, can be a weakness. Undoubtedly there will be times when the meeting is not as productive as the members would like.

I run a “job club” at an urban career center, and I will be the first to say that sometimes the meetings fall flat. Structure is important. But for structure to be successful, the activities must be of interest to the members of the group.

Members might not be the right fit

Like working in a team, some members don’t fit. This can happen with buddy groups, as well. A member or two might not pull their weight, dominate the conversations, be too negative.

I asked a member of a buddy group what the group would do in a case where a member is hurting the group. She said deadpan, “Ask them to leave.” It’s easier said than done, but it might come to this.

There are far more benefits than disadvantages of a buddy group. One I haven’t mentioned is the moral support job seekers gain from their buddy groups. I don’t encourage buddy groups be a platform for people to bemoan their situation, but there must be times when they can let out their frustrations.

7 reasons why brevity is important in your job search and at work

I began reading what started as a great blog post. The topic interested me, the writing was humorous and demonstrated expertise. I was settling in for a good read, but there was one major problem; this post was too long.*


When the scroll bar was only a third way down the page, I was wondering when this darn thing was going to end. So I scrolled down the rest of the way only to find out that, yes, my suspicion was correct, I was reading a novel on the topic of the résumé.

Sadly, I stopped reading this promising article.

My purpose today is not to write about the ideal length of a blog post. No, I’m writing about the importance of why brevity is important in your job search and at work.

Brevity in your written communications


The debate over the one- or two-page résumé has some merit. My answer to this one has always been, it depends. If you can write a one-page résumé that covers all your relevant accomplishments, do it.

Otherwise your two-page résumé has to be compelling enough for the reviewer to read. Often we’re in love with our own words, but this doesn’t mean others will, especially if what you write is superfluous.

LinkedIn profile

Thankfully LinkedIn puts limits on characters for its profile sections. For example, you’re only allowed 2,000 characters for the About and Employment sections, 120 for your Headline, and other character limitations. This has caused me to think more carefully about what I write on my profile.

For everything you want to know about character limits, visit Andy Foote’s article which addresses this topic in great detail.


Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, had something going when he launched a social media application that allowed users to tweet only 140 characters (now 260). At first I was frustrated with the limitation—and I still think it’s too short—but I’ve since come to see the brilliance of this model.

The twesume was created to make the hiring process quicker. One simply wrote a 140-character tweet with their résumé attached. If the recipient was drawn to the tweet, they would open the applicant’s résumé. Sadly, the twesume didn’t take hold.


Don’t you hate long e-mail messages? If you’re nodding in total agreement, you and I are on board with this one. The general rule is that if your e-mail to a supervisor or colleague exceeds two paragraphs, get your butt of your chair and go to his office.

A good rule of thumb is to write your brief message in the Subject Header, e.g., Meet for a marketing meeting at 2pm in the White room on Tuesday, 11/18. The body of the e-mail can contain the topics to be discussed.

Brevity in your verbal communications



Brevity is also important when you’re networking. People generally like to be listened to, not talked at. Allow your networking partners to explain their situation and needs, and then try to come up with solutions.

Conversely, your networking partners should want to hear about you. On occasion you’ll come across people who don’t get the listening aspect and will make your networking experience painful. Do people the favor of listening to what they have to say, and give your advice with concise answers.


While in an interview is not a time when you want to ramble on about irrelevant details. Answer the questions as concisely as possible, while still demonstrating value. If the interviewer needs to know more, he’ll ask for clarification or deliver a follow-up question.

Many people have lost the job opportunity because they talked too much. When I conduct mock interviews, I sometimes feel as though I’ll nod off and lose my concentration.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. People who’ve interviewed others will concur that long answers can be so painful that they’ll end the interview before asking the remaining questions.

At work

At work you must practice brevity when required. It’s said that extraverts tend to talk more than introverts, whereas introverts are better listeners. Try to be an ambiverta mixture of the two dichotomies. Apply the proper amount of listening and talking.

Keep this in mind when you’re speaking with your manager, as she is extremely busy. So state your business as clearly as possible and listen carefully to her suggestions. The same applies to meetings. Don’t dominate them by interrupting and talking on too long.

I’m brought back to the blog post I couldn’t finish, which I’m sure is very good, because it was too long. It’s a shame I’ll never find out, and I wonder if those who provided comments actually read the whole post.

*Apparently the ideal length of a post is approximately 750 words. I’ve failed this rule by 52 words.

Photo: Flickr, jamelah e.


5 very good reasons to volunteer to find employment

Before the words leave my mouth, I can hear my workshop attendees thinking, “Why should I work for free?” I hear you. It sucks working hard and not getting paid for it; but read what I’ve got to say before you condemn volunteering to find work.

office worker

An articleVolunteering as a Pathway to Employment Report, praises the act of volunteering, claiming that one’s chance of obtaining employment is 27% higher than by not volunteering. The article points out Social and Human Capital—strengthening relationships and building skills—as two major outcomes of networking.

I elaborate on these assertions and offer three additional outcomes of volunteering: it creates a positive outlook, makes one feel productive, and closes gaps in employment on your résumé. So you naysayers, read on.

1. Volunteer to network for your next job. It opens potential doors because you’re in a place where you can do some real-time networking. Choose an organization or business in the industry in which you’d like to work.

If marketing is your forté, for example, approach an organization that needs a graphic artist or publicist to design some art for their website or write a press release or two.

This organization where you’ve managed to get your foot in the door can help you with leads at other companies, especially if you do a smashing job. The president or owner will want to help you because you’ve come across as competent and likeable. Who knows, you could possibly join the company if a position opens up…or is created.

2. Develop or enhance skills that will make you more marketable. You’ve had it in your head to start blogging but haven’t had the time to dedicate to it. The company who took you on as a volunteer in their marketing department not only can help you network; it can give you the opportunity to enhance your diverse writing skills.

Your approach to management might be to offer starting a blog for them, as the rest of the marketing department is up to their elbows in alligators. They gain a talented writer to write entries, and you learn the fine art of blogging.


3. Volunteering is a great way to do a positive thing. You may consider choosing an organization where your efforts are meaningful in a big way.

A customer of mine said she volunteers at a soup kitchen because she has a soft spot in her heart for the less fortunate.

She’s a bookkeeper, so I suggested that she also offer to do the books for her church. While she’s helping the less fortunate at the soup kitchen, she could also keep her skills sharp through volunteering at her church.

4. Feel productive. Instead of sitting at home and watching The View, you can get back into work mode.

Do you remember work mode? It begins with getting up at 6:00 am, doing some exercise, leaving for a job from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, all the while feeling productive. When you get home from volunteering, you can watch those episodes of The View on DVR.

I tell my workshop attendees that one of the ways to stay sane during unemployment is by getting out of the house, and I repeat this three or four times until I know it’s embedded in their brains. As simple as it sounds, volunteering gets you out of the house.

5. Volunteering will pad your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Yes, employers look at gaps in your work history. When an employer asks about your three months of unemployment, you can proudly say you’ve been volunteering at Company A in their marketing division.

There you authored press releases, created their newest website designs, and started them on your way to a new blogging campaign. Of course you’ll indicate on your résumé, in parenthesis, that this experience was (Volunteer) work. Nonetheless, it was work.

There is concern among LinkedIn users about how to indicate they’re looking for work. Of four possible ways, I list volunteering as my preferred way to indicate you’re in the job hunt. Read the article if this is one of your concerns.

Any time you feel slighted for working without pay, remember why you’re doing it; to  network, develop or enhance new skills, do something positive, feel useful, and pad your résumé. If these five reasons aren’t enough, then by all means stay home and watch The View.

Photo: Flickr, Technical Resources

10 ways to make a better impression while networking

I was invited by one of my customers to attend a local networking event. Intrigued by what this networking group was all about, I agreed to take some time from the office and visit the group.

Networking_Group2They say timing is everything. Nothing illustrated this more than when I entered a hall-full room of networkers, and a man met me at the door and pounced on me before I was able to take off my coat.

“You’re Bob, right?” he said. I nodded, wondering how he knew who I was. I guess my customer told people I’d be going to the event.

“I’m Jim. I heard you’re pretty good at LinkedIn. I was wondering if you could help me with my profile. I’m not getting many hits. I’ve been on LinkedIn for more than a year. Do you think you could help me write it?”

“I lead LinkedIn workshops at the Career Center of Lowell,” I told him. “You should come to the Center and attend my workshops. Then I can critique your profile.” I hoped this was the end of our conversation, as I hadn’t even grabbed a coffee, but no the man continued.

“Well, I don’t really have time to go to the career center (probably because it would disrupt his online job search). And I’m not sure it will serve my needs, being an urban career center.”

I felt like telling him that people exactly like him come to our career center. Instead I told him I’d forgotten my business cards (lie) but he could call our local number if he wanted to come in for my workshops. I knew he wouldn’t make the call.

This, folks, is what gives organized networking a bad name. Going to a networking event should not start on an unpleasant note from point of contact.To make networking a pleasant experience for others, practice the following:

  1. Approach potential connections slowly, yet confidently. Don’t spring upon a person like the fellow I mentioned above. I didn’t appreciate being bombarded before I was able to get settled. Instead casually approach the person with whom you’d like to meet and give a nod of recognition.
  2. Make eye-contact and smile before approaching. People can tell a lot about you from your causal eye-contact. Your eye contact says you’re approachable. And smiling shows warmth and acceptance. Those who don’t smile seem indifferent, which doesn’t encourage conversation.
  3. Extend your hand in a non-aggressive manner. This is a sign of welcome, and to me says you have solid character. That said, shake a person’s hand gracefully and don’t squeeze so hard that it hurts. No limp or wet-palm handshakes either–as my daughter would say, “Ewww.”
  4. Think small talk first. There’s no reason to immediately launch into your elevator speech. Ease into the conversation by using the methods listed above and wait for the right moment to explain what you do and talk about the value you bring to employers.
  5. Give the person your undivided attention. Later in the morning I was talking with someone who kept looking past me like she was expecting Prince Charming to come through the door. I realize I’m not Brad Pitt, but come on. If it ain’t happening, make an exit gracefully.
  6. Don’t offer your personal business card if you don’t mean business. It’s disingenuous and a waste of paper when you give your card to someone with whom you have nothing in common or feel no connection. I distrust people who give me their card as soon as we start talking. Don’t you want to know my name first?
  7. Understand cues that tell you your networking companion has had enough. Despite what you may think, not everyone is interested in hearing you talk excessively about your services, products, or unemployment woes. Watch for rolling eyes, shifting feet; hear when people say, “Mmm,” or “Yep” or “Right.” These are cues to move on.
  8. Have a polite exit plan. There will be times when you’ll be cornered by a talker who’s goal is to tell you about every aspect of his life. Politely disengage politely. Something like this might be effective: “It’s been great talking with you, but I’m here to meet with someone about her job search. It will help to have a safe zone, a person to retreat to.
  9. Catch the person on your way out. Do you ever leave a party without saying goodbye to the host? Of course not; that’s just plain rude. Make sure you afford your potential contacts the courtesy of letting them know you’re leaving. Otherwise, they’ll get that feeling of being blown off or continue to look for you during the rest of the event.
  10. Follow up. This goes without saying. Tell those with whom you have something in common that you’ll follow up your conversation the next day…and do it. When you follow up with your new connections, you show responsibility and respect. Further, you solidify the relationships.

On my way back to the office I stopped by the neighborhood Panera Bread, where I ran into one of my customer who’s trying to find a job. The meeting was easy and refreshing and reminded me of what networking is all about—great conversation with the subtlety of networking in the background, yet ever-present. The timing was just right.


7 steps college students should take before the job search

college women

This post appeared on YouTern.com.

My daughter entered college three years ago. This was an exciting time. But with all the negative press about college grads accumulating more debt than people have on their credit cards, it makes parents like me think about the future of our kids. Namely, will they be living with my wife and me until they’re 30?

An article by NPR.com states that in this decade US students have accumulated $829 billion in debt, with many post-grads unable to find a job because they majored in subjects that make it hard to find well-paying jobs, such as Psychology, English, and Journalism.

The article states, “There’s a tendency for very few students to enroll in particular majors that lead to jobs with very high pay, such as pharmacology.”

To someone like my daughter who loves to read and write over math and science, there may be a problem further down the career road. Needless to say, the prospect of her finding a high-paying job upon graduating is a bit unsettling for me.

College students need to prepare for the job search, and they must do so early in their college years. There are five distinct actions they need to take to prepare for their search.

Research the labor market. What is the projected job growth for 2016 and beyond? Bloomberg Business Week gives a general prediction for job growth based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reads, in part like this:

Jobs In thousands

  • Registered nurses, 1,203
  • Postsecondary teachers, 892
  • Elementary and middle school teachers, 815
  • Top executives, 808
  • Engineers, 507
  • Secondary school teachers, 474
  • Computer software engineers, 448
  • Human resources managers and specialists, 323
  • Media and communication occupations, 253

So far it looks like the choices of high-paying jobs are ones that are contrary to my daughter’s inclination for the humanities, unless she wants to pursue teaching. This will not discourage us from creating a game plan, though. If she won’t see nursing or software engineering in her future, there are other ways to approach the career search. Teaching is a noble career, but not one that satisfy her passion for Sophora, Banana Republic, and other high-priced retail stores.

Decide one’s major by their sophomore year. If a college student decides by the end of his freshman year that he wants to major in English or Communications, that will not necessarily be a problem. Not as long as he chooses a minor, such as Marketing that includes elements of Social Media. English will prove at be excellent training for his written and verbal communication skills.

Make getting internships a priority. Lately my daughter as been wondering if she wants to work as a life guard or a camp counselor during her college summers. She’s told me that getting a tan is very important to her. I’ve got news for her. That’s right, she can kiss the Life Guard job goodbye. If she’s unhappy with skin the hue of a vampire (I’m exaggerating, of course), I’ll pay for a membership at a tanning salon.

College students should be applying for an internship at, say, a small software start-up that can benefit from their extensive Facebook experience, plus their propensity to learn any social media platform that the company can use in their marketing campaign. They could also court some non-profit organizations to see a different perspective of the labor force, the sector of which I’m a member.

Dump Facebook as a social activity. From the moment a college student unloads his belongings in his dorm room, settles in with his new roommate, and prepares for the following day of classes, he’ll start a “professional” Facebook account that contains no hint of a social life. He can keep his original account and all 500 of his friends, but the new account will be the one he reveals to recruiters and prospective employers.

Connect on LinkedIn. Colleges are pushing their students to join LinkedIn. But as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water….” It is imperative that college students join LinkedIn and engage with their connections. Now is the time to get on the elevator on the bottom floor on its way up.

Their profile should represent them in a professional way, which doesn’t necessarily mean for their photo they have to wear a suit and tie or a silk blouse, jacket, and skirt. Nor are they going to have the experience to taut as if they’ve been working in the workforce for years. (This is where the internship comes in.)

Join the Society of Collegian Networkers. Whether a college student is an introvert or extravert, this shouldn’t keep them from beginning their personal networking activities. Most colleges have face-to-face networking lessons. If not, networking activities should be a mandatory course for the serious students striving to be gainfully employed by the time they graduate.

I have visions of my daughter being the vice president of her networking organization. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility for any college student. All they need to do is volunteer and put in tons of work to run the organization efficiently.

Volunteer. If the college student doesn’t have a job by the time she graduates, she’ll volunteer at the companies where she interned. This will put her a step ahead of her schoolmates in terms of skill development and networking.

My daughter’s a smart girl, so I don’t anticipate her being unemployed for very long.

I figure this career path outline will be enough for her to stomach for one discussion. I won’t be deterred from keeping her on track, because there is one motivating force behind my diligence…ensuring that she isn’t spending the next 18 years with my wife and me. I figure this will be not only a great goal to achieve, it will also prepare me for my two other children.

13 activities to do after losing your job

Number 13

I was once asked, “When you get laid off which is more important, to start networking or spend a week writing your résumé?” I thought this was a great question but believe jobseekers need to think of other important activities after they’ve lost their job.

Below are some of the must do’s for people who are starting their job search. You’ll note that dusting off your résumé and networking are far down the list of priorities.

1. Take time to regroup. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do when starting your job search. It’s also something people neglect to, instead jumping right into the hunt the same day they’re laid off.

Conversely, some people wait too long to begin the search, considering this a time to take a “vacation.” You may see losing your job during the summer to take that vacation you never took during the year. Don’t. Take a week to group at most.

2. Evaluate your frame of mind. Understand that unemployment can play emotional havoc on your psyche and may require seeking professional help. Many of my customers have shared with me their despondency and even depression after being laid off or let go.

These feelings are not unusual, but if they persist, seek the help of a professional. No, commiserating with a former colleague doesn’t help. Surround yourself with positive people, not negative ones.

3. Think about what you want to do. Now is the time to think about what you really want to do, not what you feel comfortable doing. People may advise you to jump back into marketing, or finance, or nursing; but if it isn’t what you want to do, don’t pursue an occupation you no longer enjoy.

When I was laid off, I realized that I wanted to change my career. Deciding what I wanted to do was one of my top priorities. I had direction. Without direction, you’re like aimlessly driving a car driving around with no destination. Your job search will be longer.

4. Develop a plan. You have direction, know what you want to do. Now you need to determine what you have to do to reach that goal. Start with small steps, such as conducting one job-search activity a day, and build up to three a day.

Eventually you’ll start planning out each day to include job-search activities like networking, engaging on LinkedIn, contacting recruiters, following up on your networking meetings, using the Internet (sparingly), contacting your alumni association, etc.

5. Be dedicated to your job search. Determining your direction could take some contemplation, especially if you’re changing your career. Once you’ve decided on path you want to take, dedicate all you effort to getting there.

Is it necessary to spend 40+ hours on your job search I ask my workshop attendees. I don’t thing so. More like 25-30 hours of smart job seeking is more like it. And remember, you’re looking for work seven days a week.

6. Assess your greatest skillsThis is tough for many people, especially those who have a hard time promoting themselves, so solicit the help of others with whom you worked or know in your daily life.

Create a list of your strongest skills and accomplishments. These will make good fodder for your new and improved résumé. As well, you’ll be able to talk about them with ease, naturally.

7. Begin telling everyone you know—everyone. That’s right, everyone. You may think your sister in New York would never know of opportunities in Boston, but you never know who she may know who knows someone in Boston.

Don’t focus only on the people with whom you worked; you’re limiting your reach. Start attending networking events if you feel comfortable; it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s important that others know about your situation, so they can help you in your job search.

8. Dust off the résumé. Ideally you should have been updating your résumé  while working, but we know how work demands leave little time to do this, and when we return from a hard day of work we have little if any energy to work on our résumé.

Now that you’ve done your labor market research: have an idea what you want to do, the projected growth of the industry in which you want to join, where the jobs will exist; it’s time to ramp up your résumé big time.

9. Get on LinkedIn. With all the articles written about the effectiveness of LinkedIn, you should know by now that most employers—approximately 95%—are culling talent on LinkedIn.

Take the time to do it right, though. Create a powerful profile and be active by updating often, joining and participating in groups, sending invites, etc. I advise my customers to use LinkedIn’s publishing feature as a way to show their expertise and become a thought leader.

10. Get out of the house. Your style might lean more toward attending networking groups, professional affiliations, volunteering, or using your local library’s computers (even if you have your own). Don’t forget your local One-Stop career center that offers you resources and training and education.

Please don’t sit behind your computer six hours a day sending out resumes through job boards. Go where people are, even if it’s to just sit near them. Isolation can be a terrible thing. Get out of the house!

11. Step up your exercising or begin exercising. Nothing is better for the mind than improving your physical condition. You don’t have to join a club. Simply walk every morning or do yoga. Make sure you get up at the same time you rose from bed when you were working. Do not let your routine slip.

When I was unemployed, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to 90 or more. It helped me to clear my mind and release frustration. It was also cheaper than joining a gym.

12. Develop your company list. You’re now in a good position to figure out what type of companies for which you’d like to work. Identifying the companies can help you with your research on them and career possibilities.

Your list will also come in handy when networking with jobseeker groups and informational contacts. People need to know where you’d like to work in order to help you.

13. Start knocking on companies’ doors. Use your company list to be proactive by approaching growing companies either by sending an approach letter introducing yourself to them or literally visiting your companies.

Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, asserts that your chance of getting a job is 47% if you use this method alone.


The list of must do’s could be endless, but it’s important to keep in mind the important actions needed to properly start your job search. If you are having difficulty getting motivated, speak to close friends, relatives, or trained job-search professionals who can help you with this serious problem. Motivation is required in order to put our plan into action.

Photo: Andreas Gessl, Flickr

The 12 types of job-search networkers; the good and the bad

Networking blackWhen you work at an urban career center, you come into contact with many different personalities. The customers that stick in your mind are the ones who not only help themselves, but also look out for others. In other words, they help their peers without being asked.

One gentleman who I speak of often in my workshops is a guy named John who worked at Brooks Automation. He was laid off and attended my workshops. He took it upon himself to create a networking group that grew in popularity, and he ran it like a pro. When he landed his next job, I was happy and sad. Happy that he landed a job; sad that the group eventually dissolved.

John exemplified one type of networker, the Giver. He gave his time and energy to help other jobseekers, knowing what goes around comes around. Here are the 12 types of networkers:

  1. The Outgoing (Good) — Never out of energy and always interacting with others around them, this networker is often popular and a magnet to others. People feel his energy; it gives them energy. (Don’t assume this person is an extravert; introverts can be outgoing, as well.) When he leaves the group, people take notice and wish him a good night.
  2. The Shy (Bad) — On the other hand is the shy person who comes across as a snob or aloof. He’d rather stand in a corner watching others interact. This is not his venue; he won’t stay long. (Don’t assume this person is an introvert; extraverts can be shy, as well.) When he leaves no one notices his departure. He’s a ghost.
  3. The Face-to-Face Person (Good) — She loves personal networking because she enjoys being with people. You’ll see her at every event until she’s landed a job, and she’ll return to the group to talk about her Happy Landing. She also networks in the community with whomever she can, realizing that anyone could offer her a lead.
  4. The Online Person (Bad) — Using LinkedIn exclusively is her idea of networking. She sees connecting with others and sending direct messages as the only way to network, but she’s mistaken. One must also make a personal connection to cement a relationship.
  5. The Giver (Good) — Like John, this person understands the true nature of networking. When he helps someone by providing a lead, he will get help from someone else. He creates good karma for himself. He is a maven, someone who knows about every industry and occupation, and he has contacts at many companies.
  6. The Taker (Bad) — He thinks only of himself and never of others. Just taking is a good way to alienate himself from the people with whom he networks. He doesn’t understand why people stop helping him because he’s wrapping up in his own battle. He expects people to have leads for him but doesn’t think of offering other jobseekers leads.
  7. The Listener (Good) — She is one of the favorite people in the room. Always asking questions and listening intently. She remembers previous conversations and brings them up, making people feel special. She is a great conversationalist. Unfortunately people may take advantage of her good nature and talk “at” her all night.
  8. The Talker (Bad) — This person believes that the room is his stage and those around him are receptacles for his words. People have a hard time getting away from him unless they have an escape plan. He is exhausting and gains few followers. In the community he drives people away from his company, unwilling to listen to people who could help him.
  9. The Doer (Good) — He is someone who will attend networking events despite being tired after a long day of work. The extravert and introvert alike will attend networking events, or meet up with a group of networkers, or connect with people in the community. They are active yet tactful in the way they network.
  10. The Non-Doer (Bad) — You’ll see this person at a few networking events and then he’ll drop off the face of the earth. After trying a few events and not getting immediate gratification, he’ll decide networking is not for him and abandon it. It’s a shame, as he may have potential.
  11. The Finisher (Good) — In soccer we call this a player who puts the ball across the goal line. In networking this person follows up with the people he meets at events and in the community. He keeps business cards and calls the people within 24 hours, 48 hours at the most. And he maintains contact with the people who can be of mutual assistance.
  12. The Buzz Kill (Bad) — We know what a buzz kill is. No more needs to be said. In networking he’s the person who doesn’t follow up with potential connections. Relationships die before they begin. Business cards lie in his drawer, piling up like a deck of playing cards.

In contrast to John, I’ve come across networkers who are in it only for themselves. Although it’s natural to want immediate gratification, it’s far more noble and productive to help your brethren, as your efforts will be returned in due time. There are other types of networkers, such as the positive and negative attitudes. As I say in my workshops, we’re more likely to help those who appear positive than those who appear negative. They all agree.

The day I messed up; my networking mistake

Screwed upThe day I messed up; it was a day you remember like when you forget your kid’s birthday. You can’t believe you made such a blunder and it stuck with you the whole day.

I had planned to meet with a fellow who is considered the premier networker in the area. He runs a business networking group called Friends of Kevin. I wanted to talk to him about expanding my LinkedIn Strategy business because I believed he could promote my business among his “Friends.”

We were supposed to meet for lunch and I was going to pay. Nothing fancy, just Mexican food from across the street. I was sitting at my desk eating a bowl of New England Clam Chowda (that’s how it’s pronounced in northeast Massachusetts). There I was enjoying my chowda, my bobbleheads on my desk looking on. I was totally oblivious to the fact that I had forgotten our lunch date.


From over my shoulder I heard something akin to, “I see you’ve already got some food.” Right then I knew I had seriously messed up. I also realized I didn’t have a viable excuse for forgetting our lunch date. There was no sense trying to hide my mistake. There was only fessin’ up.

“Dude, I’m sorry. I messed up,” I said to him.

“It’s cool,” he said. “I was going to meet someone later on. No worries.”

Over time I forgot this momentous blunder until this person shared on YouTube a similar mistake. He broadcasted to the world that he (too) had forgotten a networking meeting, hadn’t put it on his calendar. What a guy, I thought. How bold of him to admit his error and turn it into a lesson on how to follow up in the most obvious way.

Following up has always been a priority for me. I preach it in my workshops as one of the most important aspects of the job search; whether it’s calling someone after a networking event, meeting someone for coffee, making the informational meeting you asked for. Like in work, following up is essential for success. Your word is your bond. And I mean it.

Recently my friend did me a great favor by speaking to our career center on the topic of (can you guess?) networking. I’m sure during the guest speaking event he mentioned the importance of following up, and I’m pretty sure he spoke of my faux pas. I would’ve. He’s a good friend who easily forgives.

Someday I’ll make this networking mistake of mine up to him.

Small talk and 5 other traits introverts must improve upon

breakroomWhen my colleagues are chatting away during lunch, I like to join their conversation which is usually about current affairs, television shows, or other topics extraverts seem to enjoy and master with ease.

I do my best to break into their banter, picking the right opportunity to voice my views. But at times choosing my words seems like work. I’m not unusual in this way–finding making small talk difficult–other introverts have expressed the same frustration.

Being comfortable making small talk is one trait I admire in extraverts. Other extravert traits I admire are:

Ability to promote themselves. Extraverts have the gift of gab, and we all know that verbal communications is more direct and timely than written communications. While I feel comfortable sending an e-mail to my manager about my accomplishments, extraverts would go directly to her office and talk about their accomplishments. This confidence they display I erroneously misconstrue for conceit.

Solution. Before approaching the manager to speak of their accomplishments, introverts should formulate what they’re going to say. It may be helpful to write down some talking points on their accomplishments before approaching the manager. They should also remember to smile.

Ease of networking. Most extraverts will tell you they have no problem entering a room full of people and striking up a conversation. Most introverts will tell you this takes effort and is often uncomfortable, and some introverts will tell you they fear networking, both for professional and job-search purposes. Therefore they don’t network and miss out on valuable opportunities.

Solution. Introverts should not network like extraverts. I tell my jobseekers that introverts can network; they just do it differently. Instead of working the room, they feel more comfortable in smaller groups and engaging in deeper conversation.

Boundless energy. Presenting in front of a group doesn’t scare me. By most accounts I’m quite good at it. However, after conducting three workshops a day, my brain feels like mash potatoes. Extraverts, on the other hand, can talk till the sun goes down. Where extraverts may run into problems is not taking time to ask questions and listen to their attendees. Introverts are said to be better listeners. Still, it’s nice to have the endurance to talk with people for eternity.

Solution. Introverts should take advantage of downtime to recharge their battery. I retreat to my cubicle where I can rest my mind and reflect on the next workshop to come. When colleagues approach me during my down time, I tell them I’m busy with important work…even if I’m not. Introverts must take any opportunity they have to re-charge their batteries so they can be ready to jump back into action.

Conflict management. Well-known psychologist and author, Marti Olsen LaneyPsy.D, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, asserts that introverts are not as strong at conflict resolution as extraverts are. She writes that introverts avoid conflict as much as possible, and I see her point.

Solution. In order to be good at conflict management, introverts must choose their battles and formulate their thoughts before jumping into the foray. When an answer to an accusation is called for, introverts should ask for time to think about their response. I feel this way when I’m asked to defend my actions.

Participating at meetings. I tell my MBTI workshop attendees that introverts have wonderful ideas but often let those ideas go unheard because they fail to speak up at meetings. The extraverts dominate the discussion because they feel uncomfortable when there is silence. Silence is not a problem for introverts.

Solutions. Arrive with talking points or write them as you’re listening to the other members of the group. When your ideas warrant being introduced, don’t wait passively for your turn; speak out regardless of etiquette. I feel strongly about being forceful, as evident by the time I jumped in front of one of my extraverted colleagues in order to express my thoughts. He took offense, but he’d already had his 500-word limit.

My admiration for extraverts makes me think about how I can improve on the aforementioned strengths they possess. I’ve witnessed them in my extraverted colleagues and friends; as I’ve also witnessed introverts weaknesses. With some practice, introverts can improve upon their weaknesses, and extraverts can tone it down.

Why we hate networking for jobs: confessions of a networking convert

Call centre

This is a guest post form one my favorite authors, Rebecca Farser-Thill. I decided to host it because it speaks not only to college students, to whom she gives a kick in the ass, it also speaks to jobseekers of all ages. I’m also hosting it because it’s one article that made my morning coffee go cold–a great sign of compelling writing.

Networking for jobs. When I mention the phrase to my Bates students, their noses wrinkle, their lips grow taut, and the tip of a tongue sometimes protrudes ever so slightly from their mouths. Disgust. That’s what they’re demonstrating. Pure disgust.
Ooo, there’s a balloon at the call center! That makes this job much more appealing. (Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

I get it. I used to be an active member of United Anti-Networking Individualists. It’s a faith that effectively thwarts the creation of a fulfilling career, given that over 80% of jobs are unadvertised. My fellow worshipers and I were left with the plum jobs that everyone knows about, like these from a recent Monster search: Call Center Manager (the only thing worse than having people hang up on you is managing the people who get hung up on); Product Support Supervisor (you get to field calls from people who want to return faulty items; they should be fun to talk with); and Data Entry Clerk (entering client bills all day, every day – be sure to sign up for glasses and carpal tunnel surgery in advance!)

The thing is, I joined the dark side. I now – gasp – proselytize for job networking.

Yes, it’s true. As part of my mission, I offer you the top reasons we hate networking for jobs. And why we’re completely wrong. Based on psychological science, no less.

1. I Don’t Want to Bug People

Leave The Kids At Home And Turn Off The Damn P...Think people will react like this when you contact them? (Photo credit: Cayusa)

Let’s pause for a second and consider what happens when you contact someone with a networking request. You’re essentially saying to that person, hey, you’re in a great position in life and I’d like to emulate you, or at least get closer to emulating you, and I was wondering if I might ask you to talk about yourself for fifteen minutes or so, and share some of the awesome contacts that I’m envious you have made? Ah, yes, I see why this is “bugging people.” Not!

Number one:  People love to talk about themselves. That’s the cardinal rule of human psychology.

Number two: People love to be praised and to feel like they’re doing well on the social hierarchy. The second rule of human psychology.

So, “bugging people”? Uh, not so much.

2. I Want To Be Self-Sufficient

Ah, yes. The Western ideal run amock. I can do it myself! That’s what you think, right? Then why do humans fall apart when they’re socially excluded, suffering from depression and sometimes resorting to extreme aggression? Psychologists Baumeister and Leary claim that our “need to belong” drives much human behavior. In other words, we need one another to survive, both physically and psychologically. You’re going against your basic nature if you assert otherwise. When you’re in need (and when you’re out of work, you are in need) that’s the time to go with your evolutionary instincts, not fight against them. 

3. I Have the Wrong Personality For Networking

OK, you’re onto something here. Psychologists Wolff and Kim found that people who are extraverted and high in openness to experience are more likely to network for jobs than people with introverted, closed personalities. That said, personality does not dictate all of our behavior. We may have to go “against type” in order to network, but we’re required to go against type everyday for a variety of reasons.

I mean, for a true introvert, holding a spontaneous conversation can be excruciating. But introverts manage to do this all the time (thankfully). You’re not being asked to change who you are in order to begin networking for jobs; just to channel a different way of relating to the world. And only for a short while. Besides, if you are an introvert looking for a career, you’re probably drawn to career paths that other introverts love. Meaning you get to network with other introverts. That’s hella comforting (speaking from my introverted self).

4. I Don’t Have a Network

Isolated House - CasolareYou live here? (Photo credit: Aesum)

Oh wow, you’re a hermetic isolate who lives in a cave? I always wanted to meet someone like you (it’s very hard to do, seeing as how people like you never emerge from your dwellings). What, you’re not? You actually live in the real world? Then, hate to break it to you, you have a network. A network isn’t some fancy-schmancy secret club of Ivy League graduates who sit around drinking scotch while their chauffeurs polish the Mercedes. A network is just people. Plain ol’ people. If you ever talk to anybody, then you have a network. Period.

But wait, I feel my psychic skills abuzzing; your rebuttal is ringing in my ears:

5. No One In My Network Knows Anything About My Field

This may be true. Maybe your network is full of people with careers you detest, or with backgrounds you’d rather not admit. But who’s in their network? And in those people’s networks?

Here’s a tale from my anti-networking days:  I attended a career seminar at Cornell, back when I was plotting my great escape from grad school. To prove the power of networking, the career counselor made us each pair up with a random person in the room and see if we couldn’t comb their network for someone related to what we wanted to do (and they ours). My partner got an immediate bingo from me; my dad worked in his prospective field. I, on the other hand, came up with peanuts from him. Peanuts.

There, I thought, proof that networking is a joke.

Flickr friendsNone of your friends knows anything useful? Bummer… (Photo credit: Meer)

The counselor then went around the room, making everyone announce the connections they’d made. And they all had made connections. Except for me. (LOSER!)

When I professed my failure, the counselor kept hounding my partner and I, refusing to let the subject drop. You really have nothing to offer her? You can’t get anything from him?Nope, we said, nothing.

As the seminar concluded, I went over to my partner and offered my email address, so that he could get in touch with my dad. As I handed it to him, I noticed a word on his Izod shirt (this clothing choice alone offers insight into why we had nothing in common). “Falmouth,” I said, reading the word on his shirt. “As in Maine?”

“My Grandma lives there. Has her whole life.”

“That’s where I’m planning to move in a few months. To Falmouth, or nearby. And I don’t know a single soul there.”

The career counselor leaped over, like a possessed little jackal. “A-ha! I told you! Networking works!”

I glared at her, desperate to cling to my ideology. But as I talked to the grandma on the phone the next day, getting tips on where to live and where not to; the local publications in which to search for jobs; and the contact info of her niece who worked in social services, I couldn’t help but question my anti-networking faith. Could networking be this powerful? And this easy? But still:

6. I Hate Using People

Here’s the biggie, especially for you Millennials. Although you’ve come of age in the era of social networking, you’re loathe to “use” those networks for personal gain. They’re about self-expression and connection, right? Not about the trading of favors.

First, re-read Point #1 above.

Then stop and consider how you feel when you have a service you can offer to someone else. In the case of networking for jobs, it may be information about a certain career path, a connection to someone at your company, or the link to a friend or relative working in a particular industry. We humans are altruistic beings at heart, so when we give, we experience enhanced psychological well-being and decreased feelings of stress. We also earn social support from our actions.

As writer Elizabeth Scott says, “When people make altruistic personal sacrifices, they end up reaping what they sow in the form of favors from others. These individuals earn the reputation as altruistic people and end up receiving favors from others who they may not have even directly helped.”

So, in essence, when you’re asking others to help you, you’re giving them the opportunity to experience more well-being, less stress, and the likelihood of returned favors in their future. Oh yes, this sounds like “using” somebody alright. Whatever you say.

Final Thoughts

Chances are I haven’t made you a convert to networking for jobs just yet. It takes time. I know. But when you decide you’re ready to fail Career Avoidance 101, a great start is to accept networking into your life.

I’m not only a Nutty for Networking  member. I’m its President.

So what did I miss? What deters you from networking for jobs?