Networking: A Waste of Time, or High-Benefit for Careers?
As we should all be aware, there are countless industry associations, networking organizations and events. These can easily suck you in and get you involved on committees and planning. But what do you get in return? The assumed benefits of industry association involvement include:
- Meeting networking contacts and achieving personal referrals for job leads
- Access to potential hirers
- Collaborative working/volunteer environments and persons, on the associationÃ¢??s behalf, potentially leading to real jobs
- Easy access to quick, potential consulting/freelance projects
So if you collaborate, plan and work with other people in an association, you open yourself to potential future career opportunities. If you've volunteered with them, you've already done the test if it worked well, they can call on you when they need someone. A homerun for an event should equal a homerun in the work environment, even if just for a consulting project.
Or maybe those you collaborated with in the association aren't hiring, but know of companies or colleagues that are. A personal referral in these cases can go a long way. You've heard the old adage "It's not what you know but who you know." There's something to it. People hire and recommend people they know, like and trust and want to work with. Are you that person?
Associations career opportunities are potential benefits of networking, but they can also consume time if you're involved on teams, planning, etc. How much devotion should you provide from time investment and work? Let's answer that with another question: Do the association and its volunteers represent companies you want to professionally align yourself with? If we're talking a cost/benefit ratio, the costs would be your costs to join the association and to attend events. As well as the cost on your time. Would the time you devote to this take away from other profitable endeavors? Is it worth that? Or is it worth just attending the networking events and making connections that way? There is an art to networking, just ask any sales person. In sales it is called lead-generation. Sales people will attend networking events to make connections as potential future leads. There are countless sales books devoted to the topic. Another way to look at it is, If you aren't sure if a specific association's involvement will help you by putting all your eggs in one basket, how you can minimize your upfront time or financial investment to find out? Maybe spread your time over several associations to spread word for total quantity of people to talk to.
Sooner or later however what matters is quality not quantity. Sure you may have just met someone whose company you like and is hiring, but why should they bring you in for interviewing? If they only just met you? There's no quality of relationship or work-fit there. The attributes that build that quality of relationship and applicability can include multiple good discussions over several events and even collaboration in committee and event planning as discussed above. And obviously in all of this, the niche and membership of the association is key. In other words, if you really want to work in the digital marketing industry, involvement with your church group or Habitat for Humanity is not targeted enough to the optimal contacts.
So those are the attributes and benefits of association involvement. Another big key is not to expect too much too fast. The point here is to build quality contacts who can help you throughout your career. Even if someone isn't hiring now, they will be hiring someday. Relationships work for building your career.
Finally there is another big benefit to these types of industry association involvement: If you're new or testing a specific career, this is a great way to get exposure to the people, jargon, details and important aspects of that field. What are the risks and pain points in such a career? Compared to the high points? And by the way, such questions give you something to discuss while you are networking.
All of this can be beneficial career info, but you need to have a good idea of what your career should be. The OccupationProfessor.com online career testing can provide you unique insights into yourself and your best careers based on several different aspects virtually ignored by other, traditional career testing methodologies. See our video about how OccupationProfessor works.
POSTED: 7-12-2015 at 2:51 PM (EDT)