So, jobs are hard to keep, let alone come by these days. And promotions? Who in their right mind would ask for a promotion right now? Are you agreeing with me? Stop. Let’s blow this pity party. I am going to show you five things you can do right now that will get your name out there in a positive light.
You know how they say all politics are local? Well, so is networking. If you’re unemployed, underemployed, or just hanging on to a crappy job out of fear, you ‘re a sitting duck for one of those high-priced career coaches hocking self-help books and promising to boost your career beyond your wildest imagination, and all for only $399.00! Forget it. Try one these free techniques instead:
- Teach a community cooking class. Churches, senior centers, fire stations, VFWs, and a host of other civic organizations have commercial kitchens. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, volunteer to host a cookie bake or chili feed as part of a community cooking class. Conversing while cooking is a great way to meet people and find out more about the people in your area. If someone of prominence attends your class, offer to let them lick the spoon; that’ll score you some brownie points.
- Volunteer to tutor at your local school. Teachers are overwhelmed with behavior problems and learning problems in the classroom. While they may be aware a student is falling behind, many just don’t have the time or the funding to do anything about it. Talk to your local district. From K-12, students can benefit from your expertise. This is a great way to meet other education professionals as well as give back to your community.
- Teach a community education class. Community education classes range from utilitarian (how to use Excel) to plain old indulgent fun (clowning classes). Do you have an interesting hobby to share? Teaching a class that hasn’t been offered before can put you in touch with others who share at least one of your interests. Where there’s one, there’s more.
- Hold a workshop at your local library. Most libraries are happy to have people come in and hold small workshops. Many have conference rooms available for just this sort of gathering, and they’re usually free to use, or available at a nominal charge. If you are a professional with a skill that other job seekers would find useful, hold a workshop on the subject. You’ll be doing yourself and others a huge service. People will remember your good deed.
- Offer to speak to groups. Community groups are always looking for people who are willing to come and talk to them. If you have an experience, advice, or skill that you can impart to a group, there all sorts of them out there: 4-H, scouts, veterans groups, and inmates. That’s right inmates. Offer to speak at the local jail or prison if you’re interested in the legal system.
Networking at the local level has an advantage over sending out letters and resumes to nameless, faceless entities. Not only do you build strong, stable connections, you become an integral part of your community. When this happens, you’re community will be as willing to help you succeed as you were to help it grow. Whatever you do, please, don’t cough up cash to an employment agency or life coach until you at least try to build a local network. The people you know can help you grow.