Q: I have to raise a complaint about the "attend networking events" advice. When I was unemployed I was told this all the time, but the only "networking events" I could find were through my college alumni association, and after a few you've met almost everyone there. I would go to the occasional conference or symposium if I could find one for free, but I found them to be very poor for networking purposes. Plus there aren't events every day, in fact the opportunity is rare, so you start to feel unproductive on a day-to-day basis. It feels like you should be going to a "networking event" everyday when in fact that's impossible. Maybe there are more "networking events" for other professions, but overall I found it to be a frustrating strategy.
A: Networking can be frustrating. A job hunt can be frustrating. But prolonged unemployment is far more frustrating.
Networking works! I have received several inquiries recently like yours. Almost every job seeker is told to network. However many of you are now asking, “Where do I find these events?”
Let me share some very concrete networking events:
- Yes, your college alumni association is one option. Professional associations also offer networking opportunities.
- Visit www.meetup.com. Plug in your zip code and search for a group that might work for you. There are groups for web developers, business developers and those that just want to network.
- The Acton Networkers group is a great group of very active job seekers who meet weekly. Check out www.actonnetworkers.com. Hopkinton Networkers is an offshoot of Acton Networkers. Both meetings are well-run and members exchange job leads and landings. A donation of $1.00 is requested at the door to cover the cost of refreshments. The Acton Networkers are on LinkedIn under groups.
- Temple Emanuel in North Andover and Temple Emanuel in Newton both have vibrant professional networking groups. Both of these groups have active LinkedIn groups as well.
- Public libraries in Massachusetts (and other states) are offering job search resources for free. I know both the Reading Public Library and the Newton Free Library have job search resources, including networking events.
- Visit www.job-hunt.org. You can view networking events by state. In Massachusetts, there are over 40 networking events listed.
Some of these groups may put some meetings or live events on hold for the summer. However, I think you will find that many of the live events begin to “ramp up” in September.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.