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Ask Dr. Tom

Networking: June 2011 Archives

The Great Recession has placed us in some uncertain economic and employment times here in Tech Valley. The question is what to do about it from a career development perspective. Let me be frank: most people are doing their job searches all wrong.

If you are looking for a new position, you might be inclined first to go to the Internet and search for a job. Most people don't understand that the Internet is one of the least effective ways to conduct a job search. This is because of the intense competition when any job opening becomes public.

Since most jobs are never posted, tech professionals should spend 80 percent of their time using the most effective technique: networking. This is a planned and systematic approach of reaching out and contacting friends, family, colleagues, alumni and anyone who can open doors for you.

Internet job searching is the most convenient and passive way to find a job and that is why everyone is doing it. Networking is the most-time consuming technique, but the most productive. This also requires you to focus on three to five jobs to target.

I recommend building your "Internet Image" with the big three: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. I must stress that as important as social networking is becoming, these are merely "virtual" relationships. You might have dozens of these "friends" in these accounts, but realistically how many of them will really give to you during your next career move. Therefore, it is critical to take your "virtual" network to the next level and nurture a "real" network.

Job hunters need to get out from behind the isolation of computers and reach out and network in-person with such organizations as the Capital Alliance of Young Professionals (CAYP), Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Colonie Chamber, and the Consulting Alliance to name a few. Your efforts will build the strong relationships that will be vital for a job change.

Some reading this article, may feel uncomfortable getting out there, being visible and schmoozing with people you don't even know. It is normal to think this way. My suggestion is you start with the top five people in your "Inner Circle" and ask them each for three pieces of career advice and three contacts. When you contact these people, tell them that your friend suggested they might be able to provide some useful career advice. People like to talk and are happy to advise you. This way you are upfront and not asking them for a job.

Request to have a "Coffee Talk" to get to know them and understand what tips they might have as you advance your career. When you meet, have a list of three to five questions in your mind that you need help with. If appropriate, ask them if they have three additional people that would be helpful to speak to about your career. If you have one "Inner Circle" friend with three contacts and each of those "Middle Circle" contacts has three more, you now have nine connections! Don't get overwhelmed with networking - just start with one.

Be sure to implement the "Givers Get" principle. It is in giving that we truly receive. Be sure you are giving back in a creative way to all the people that are helping you. They will feel appreciated and be more likely to give in the future.

It takes time and effort to build your "real" network. I recommend that you have the mindset of networking for life. This way you will have a rich support system established well before you need them in the next employment crisis.

In my private career counseling practice, I know that a person's network of connections are more than willing to help if you are willing to merely ask, and you are focused on what you want. Tech Valley represents a huge geographic area. In reality, it is a small, highly networked community. I encourage you to stay persistent and remember my motto: networking beats NOTworking.

Keep Climbing,
Dr. Tom

Copyright 2011, Dr. Thomas J. Denham, Careers In Transition LLC - Posted Friday, June 17, 2011

Dr. Thomas J. Denham

Dr. Tom Denham is the founder of Careers In Transition LLC, a private practice which focuses on career counseling for individuals and consulting services for institutional clients. Dr. Tom has over twenty years of career services experience at Siena and Union Colleges as well as Harvard, St. Lawrence and Boston Universities.

Dr. Tom founded Northeast Public Radio's award winning talk show, The Career Forum and speaks extensively on career management issues. He earned his bachelors from St. Lawrence University, his masters from Boston University and his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.

He has climbed over 180 mountains including the Adirondack 46, Oregon's Mt. Hood and The Grand Teton. In 2009, he survived a huge crevasse fall on Mt. Rainier by ice climbing his way out. Tom lives where he grew up in Albany where he would rather be ice and rock climbing and raising his 11 year old daughter, Rachel.

Dr. Tom Denham has been a professional career counselor for over 20 years. He helps people explore their options with career testing, make job changes and write resumes and prepare for interviews.

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