What does it mean to network?

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As many job seekers know, and as many job-search resources will tell you, it is important to network as you look for your next position. Everybody says it, but what does it really mean? How can it help you to find the position you want or the person you want to speak to?

Long story short, it doesn’t always do that, but both concentrated and light networking can help to supplement your job search. Hopefully by creating some new connections, an internal recommendation or two, or even a tidbit of information about a person, position or department you wouldn’t otherwise know about.

Here are two tips we’ve come up with to help our candidates best focus their networking efforts.

Map out your social connections: Using resources like LinkedIn and Facebook, take stock of who you know and what those people do for work. Do they work in a position or at a company you’d like to target? Ask to speak with them briefly over a cup of coffee to find out more about what their career trajectory was like, or who they know in a department you’re trying to target. Be open about your desire to work for the company or in a specific position and ask them what they think you should do to get an informational interview.

Find a MeetUp Group: If you have completely exhausted your existing network, it’s important to grow some new connections! There is a MeetUp group for virtually every interest under the sun (sometimes two!). MeetUps offer a way to connect with new and different people around a shared career, field of industry or simply a shared interest. These group meetings follow a variety of different layouts, usually meeting at a neutral location for some education, networking and socializing. While these do tend to be more prevalent in urban areas, it is always possible that you’ll find something close to where you live. Here in Boston, from the Boston Volunteers MeetUp, which covers a variety of volunteer opportunities in and around the city, to the HTML5 Game Development MeetUp to the Boston IT JobSeeker’s MeetUp, there is a lot to do and talk about.
Do you have a networking strategy that’s worked for you? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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CareerJuice.