Eighty precent of jobs are not posted online. So how do you find those open jobs and the hiring managers? An over-looked way to network with industry professionals or like-minded individuals is to join a group. Hiring managers specifically look for people who proactively contribute to their community, present at events and mentor others. But the benefits of joining a group go beyond just networking. Groups give you the social life that many people may leave behind due to their commitments to work/family/school.
Story time! The first thing I did when I moved to Arizona was join a group that would provide me with that social aspect that I knew I would need to be successful. As an Australian, I grew up playing Australian Rules Football (footy) but stopped when I moved to the US for college. My graduate coursework and final project focused on how to expand the game here in the United States. I joined a local club just to see how it was. Within a few weeks, I felt like I had 30 new friends.
Joining the Arizona Hawks has also helped me professionally. Not only am I actively networking, but my own graduate work is being used by the club. I am writing and creating content for them, which not only keeps my mind sharp, but gives me a way to improve my artistic passions.
Maybe joining a group is not as easy for you. Maybe you get nervous talking with new people. That feeling is totally normal. Try out these icebreakers:
- Why did you come to the event tonight?
- What do you think about [an exciting piece of relevant industry news]?
- What’s your story?
- What are you working on?
- How did you hear about this event?
- Where did you get your [bag/necklace/shoes]?
Go into it understanding that networking and getting a job is not the only reason to join a professional group. It's okay to join a group for the pure fun of it all. If anything, it allows you to build communication and teamwork (hmm, wonder when those could come in handy?).
Pro tip: Always remember to ask how you can help the other person.
People will see right through insincere attempts to speed network your way to a job. Instead, join groups such as Girls in Tech PHX that focus on supporting the community and mentoring young people.
Check out a few local groups that may pique your interest:
Need help identifying groups to join in your area? Not sure what to say to your new connections? Reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org!