I had initially wanted to discuss networking for small business purposes, to gain readership on a blog, or perhaps just trying to get a product/service out to the public. However, lately things have dramatically changed in my life. By the end of this month I will be officially unemployed and joining many others affected by this economy.
But don’t worry about me ladies and don’t count me out just yet either. I am a Latina and a New Yorker at heart so – excuse my slang – but I ain’t goin’ out like that! As a matter of fact I think this is the perfect opportunity for me to take my “side hustle” and turn it into a “full-time hustle”.
And, because of my current circumstances, I began to rethink the content I wanted to share with all of you through this blog. Therefore, as you are reading this, keep in mind that many of the things I will be discussing in the coming weeks can definitely be applied when searching for a new job as well. And it is my hope that whatever you’re ultimate goals and aspirations are that you are able to walk away from this information that much more prepared, knowledgeable and ready to take on the world.
With that said let’s talk Networking!
I’m sure that many in the public relations or marketing field would agree with me when I say that one of the key components to effective marketing is networking. And as I’ve come to find out firsthand, thanks to the Georgia Department of Labor, this is also true when seeking employment.
So, what comes to mind when you think of networking? Does an image of someone in a business suit, at a networking mixer, and handing out business cards pop in your head? I think that’s what most of us believe is typical…the traditional in-person or face-to-face networking. And that is a great way to effectively network. However, an alternative to that would be online or social networking. Whichever you choose to pursue, the following are helpful tips to guide you down your networking path.
- Create a wish list of people or companies that you would like to reach out to – then with a little researching help – and the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon game – figure out who you know that can get you to those key people. As the old adage goes it’s not what you know but who you know. And taking it one step further sometimes it’s not just who you know but who they know!
- Make sure that you’ve created a database for the information on the contacts/relationships you are cultivating. This can easily be tracked through Microsoft Outlook or Excel spreadsheet – or similar programs. You can also try using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. For a free, single user account check out FreeCRM at www.freecrm.com.
- Try connecting in-person through professional organizations like PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) – www.prsa.org or your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Connect through diversity networking sites such as Black Voices – www.blackvoices.com or Las Comadres – www.lascomadres.org.
- Network through free seminars, workshops, and webinars through websites such as Eventbrite – www.eventbrite.com or PR Newswire – www.prnewswire.com. Also check out your local colleges, libraries, and Department of Labor.
- Leverage the power of social networking through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace, to name a few. Many of these sites allow you to join groups of like-minded people and provide a great forum to connect. They also have job boards.
- Become a volunteer – not only are you able to make more connections but this allows you to give back to the community – making this a win-win for all. One of my favorite websites for volunteer work is Volunteer Match – www.volunteermatch.org. Not only can you find volunteer work in your area but they also have virtual and skill-specific opportunities. Another one to check out is Taproot Foundation – www.taprootfoundation.org – currently its only available in New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.
- Join chats and build relationships through social media website conversations on MomTV – www.momtv.com,The Mashable Lounge – www.mashable.com/chat, or BlogTalkRadio – www.blogtalkradio.com.
- If you build it they will come! Create your own social network. One of the more popular sites to do this is Ning – www.ning.com.
And remember that anytime you’re anywhere consider it another perfect opportunity for you to network. Take full advantage of it and be prepared with your business cards and bright cheerful smile. The next person you meet could potentially be the gatekeeper to your ultimate goals.
With all my mami love,