The new networking is net-worthing!

What do you do when you apply for jobs and never hear back from employers?

What do you do?  You network.  Today there are wonderful ways to network using social media, and I’ll describe them in a later blog posting. Today I want to explain how face-to-face networking has changed and how you can use it in your job search..

There are real ways to connect with real people

Let me be clear that I’m not recommending you network the ways people used to.  No, I’m recommending you network in new ways that have evolved for today’s tough times.  There are now many ways to let people know you’re looking while maintaining your self-respect, self-confidence, and pride.  The rules of the networking game have changed completely.

And it’s not a moment too soon.

In the past, many people groaned when they heard the word “networking.”  The term conjured up images of losers standing around at cocktail parties pretending to want to get to know you when you knew what they really wanted was a job.  Or a contract.  Or a whatever.  You knew the “Hi, my-name’s-Bob, what’s-yours?” charade was often just that – a charade.  The charades felt bad, because they were based on pretense.

The good news is that “pretend networking” is a thing of the past.

Embarrassing attempts to ask favors of people you hardly know are now things of the past.  What’s taken their place are clear requests for help accompanied by honest offers to help in return.

Straight talk is working, and here’s why.

Everyone knows there are few jobs available.  More and more people recognize that looking for a job online is a numbers game you probably won’t win.  Most important, everyone knows someone out of work. If not a friend, a family member. If not a colleague, a neighbor. If not the soccer mom next door, the four-wheel drive dad down the block. If not the woman at your church, the guy who used to sell you books at Borders.

Being out of work was an experience people wanted to hide in the past.  But, and here’s the critical piece, being out of work today is a common, shared, American experience.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but we sometimes still act as if it were.

Yesterday people lost their jobs for reasons of performance, and it made sense they didn’t want others to know.  Today people lose their jobs for reasons that have nothing to do with their performance, reasons that have nothing to do with them at all.  The reasons people are out of work and looking for jobs are financial. Pure and simple.

As the recession lingers, employees who made it through the first cuts fear they may be the next to go.  The good news for job seekers is that these people empathize with those who’ve been laid off.  And many want to help.  They understand we’re all in the same boat.

People with jobs are more willing to help than you may realize.

Across the country, Americans are coming through for each other.  When you ask for help clearly, succinctly, and directly, your friends with jobs may give you leads of people to call.  They may give you companies to check out, some of which you’ve never heard of.  They may suggest professional meetings and community events you can attend. They may invite you to parties where you’ll meet new people.

Networking used to be something many people dreaded. But not any more.  The chips are down. People know it and are coming together as never before.  There may not be many jobs available, but those that are available will be found.  And that’s the good news.

Those who are sharing leads for jobs are also sharing ideas, plans, and resources for new business ventures.

In these cases, networking has truly turned into Net-Worthing. Keep your eyes open for opportunities of all sorts. You may discover something better than the job you’re looking for.