Your Local Networking Hub is @ your library
For the more outgoing, networking can seem almost effortless. But for those who are more private by nature, learning how to network, especially when it’s with a goal as deliberate and direct as seeking new employment, the process can seem intimidating.
If you’re at a career crossroads with serious doubts about how to become a savvy networker, take heart.
The library offers numerous opportunities to interact with others in settings that pave the way for learning how to do just that–with fortitude and clarity of purpose.
Shore up your contacts… and confidence
At Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library’s Maple Heights Branch, the Career Center and Jobs Club program promotes an information-rich yet relaxed environment where participants can hone their networking skills.
Says participant Angela Woody: “I discovered Jobs Club after being laid off from my previous job several months ago. I knew that networking was going to be my best shot in order to find a new job.”
“[Jobs Club] really became a family for me. Each week when we would meet, it became my refuge from the grind of Web searching, resume writing and interviews. We would all share our stories about our search, what was working, what wasn't, as well as tips. Jobs Club, for me, was my most vital resource. At the end of the day no one else could fully understand the challenges and struggles I was going through. I don't believe my job search would have been a success without Jobs Club.”
She adds, “I would suggest Jobs Club to anyone searching for a job. Once I started attending the weekly meetings, the dominos began to fall and things really started moving for me. I was able to prioritize, thanks to a career survey I took, and the interviews were more frequent and my confidence grew. We always tell newcomers that Jobs Club is not guaranteed to get you a job, but it provides a tremendous amount of resources, and great camaraderie that enhanced my search. I made some great friends and got a great job and things couldn't have been better.”
Socially network your way into meaningful employment
When used properly, social networking sites can become another powerful tool in your job search arsenal. Many libraries, including Arlington Heights (Ill.) Memorial Library, offer programs focused on helping both passive and active job seekers discover these services, or enhance their existing profiles, to maximize the chances for job search success.
“This past year, the Rotary Club of Arlington Heights provided us with a generous $5,000 grant to help fund an impressive program series for job seekers,” said Richard Kong, information services manager. “Topics included using LinkedIn for online professional networking, interviewing, creating effective resumes, and finding a job after 50. Attendance at these programs has been strong and we regularly receive positive feedback from attendees.”
While many of these programs focus on helping patrons master the basics of social media as a gateway to employment, the connections made also allow for assistance that goes well beyond social networking 101.
“One of our participants came to us because she decided to go into business for herself,” recalls Kong. “She needed someone to help her create a very simple Web site for her new business and we were able to help her to do that. We showed her how to create her own Web site and pointed her in the right direction to register her own domain online.”
Practice makes perfect
Regardless of whether you’re in career transition or still working, if you are contemplating your next professional move, the library can provide applicable services to help you enhance your job search skills. Burlington Public Library routinely partners with professional career coaches to assist patrons across all stages of the job search spectrum.
At a recent program, more than 75 participants gathered to receive job search advice from Alex Freund, career coach and founder of landingexpert.com. Even the most experienced interviewers can benefit from objective feedback, which is exactly what Freund’s role play style program, complete with audience critiques, delivered.
Whether you are a novice networker or a seasoned pro, the reality is that the more you practice networking, the better you will become–and the larger and more influential your network, the more it can only serve to help you.
Think of the library as yet another outlet to enhance your professional network of contacts. Who knows? You may very well pick up on some useful ancillary tools to aid you in the job search process.
Networking like a pro: Turning Contacts into Connections by Ivan R. Misner, David G. Alexander and Brian Hilliard.
The Windmill Networking approach to Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-step Guide to Creating & Implementing Your LinkedIn Brand: Social Networking in a Web 2.0 World by Neal Schaffer.