When I was in my early twenties, I wanted to explore life and take on new adventures. After I visited Austin, TX on vacation, I fell in love with this incredibly modern city. Unlike Boston that still had cobblestones in the streets, it was a clean, new, high tech place that seemed to attract me like a moth to a flame. There was lots of life and energy there and when I got back home, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Within a month, I sold everything I owned and moved there without a place to stay or a job to go to.

At the time, I was a very ambitious young woman that was ready for a challenge. I applied for almost every position I could find in the classifieds only to get a rejection letter in the mail. How embarrassing. I felt like such a loser in a place that I knew no one. For the first time in my life, I was unemployed for almost 6 months!

I was really getting frustrated and finally called a few places back to ask them why I wasn’t selected. I knew I was more than qualified but for some reason still wasn’t getting any offers. I heard everything from I was over qualified, made too much money in my previous positions that they couldn’t match and was actually told that I was a “high risk” because I was too new to Austin and that if I didn’t like it, I could easily move back home.

What I didn’t realize is that Austin had just experienced a major economic crisis. There were lots of people unemployed, most companies were closing and not hiring, people were filing for bankruptcy and homes were foreclosing everywhere. The only positions I could get offers for were $5/hour with no benefits! Sounds a little like today’s market, doesn’t it?

I finally had this brilliant idea. If I told everyone I met what I was looking for, someone would know someone who could get me inside a company before they even posted the opening. Considering I had nothing else better to do, I went wherever I could find people and talked to whoever would listen. Within 3 weeks, I landed a well paying position that took me into a career in communications that would last for the next 13 years!

I learned at a young age how to connect with other people and develop long lasting professional relationships. In fact, I have been networking long before there was an actual term for it. Throughout my career in communications I never had to apply for another position, I was often sought out and able to negotiate my own salary and benefits package.

Fast forward to now when I mentor and coach others how to be more effective networkers. I’m contacted weekly by people that are unemployed and searching for a position. My advice is always the same, go out networking and meet people. The more people you know, the more likely you are of finding that position. Let’s face it, the best jobs are never going to be public knowledge, it’s an inside job. Think of the number of applicants that apply for all the advertised positions! You could be one of thousands of people all being interviewed for the same job!

Here are some helpful tips I recommend to anyone searching for a new employer.

  • Write out all the things you want from your position. Does it offer an hourly rate or salary? What kind of benefits do you want? Will it be located here or somewhere else? What size company do you prefer to work in? What hours are the best? And so on. By listing what you want, you’ll most likely attract that position or at least no instantly if it is a good match
  • Create several resumes that are specific to the positions you want, it doesn’t have to be one size fits all.
  • Commit yourself to attending a minimum of 3 meetings or events each week
  • Practice your introduction and include the type of position you would like to be in
  • Make a top 10 hit list of the most desirable companies you would like a lead for. Example: “If anyone knows of someone in management at MasterCard, could you please connect me?”
  • Create some personal calling cards with your contact info
  • Have thank you cards ready to send out to follow up with any leads you might get
  • Be creative and think outside the box
  • One of the most obvious questions that most people fail to make is simply asking for the position

Never underestimate the power and strength of networking. It can lead you to wherever you want to go and open doors for you that you never knew even existed! Good luck on landing that fabulous new position!