While plenty of job search maneuvers can be conducted by computer or phone, nothing beats connecting with someone new face-to-face.
Whether you're mingling at a networking event for job seekers or attending an industry lecture followed by schmooze time, you're at a gathering that's hardwired for meeting people who can open doors for you. But you have to know how to work the room.
1. Tweak your attitude. View each networking event as a chance to expand whom you know and what you know. When you're positive and engaged, your whole posture changes, and you project an energetic vibe that people find appealing. They gravitate toward you.
One way to psych yourself up is to keep in mind that the best job opportunities often go unposted on job boards, so the more people you connect with, the greater your odds of hearing about an opening.
Plus, it's a two-way street: You can share tips on jobs that you know about but are not up your alley. Helping out a fellow job hunter simply feels good. At the very least, you can get on that person's radar for future possibilities, while increasing your network — the quintessential ingredient in landing a job.
Here are six ways to mix with a purpose.
2. Make room in your schedule. Don't race in, grab a drink and race out. Successful networking requires time and planning. If possible, review the RSVP list to see if you know anyone attending, or if there's someone you want to be sure to meet. Then do a quick review of his or her LinkedIn profile to gather background for questions.
Often the roster is available on the sponsoring group's website. If it's an open event, you might consider inviting a fellow job seeker or two. Going with someone you know takes the bite out of being in a room full of strangers and can put you in a more relaxed mood.
Make certain your online accounts at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter tell the same story about you as your résumé does. Check that job titles and other personal information match and that you use the same name at each site. Also, take down any embarrassing photos or posts that are open for public viewing.
If you're in full job-hunting mode, rehearse your "elevator speech" of who you are, what you're doing right now and what kind of position you're seeking. If you're looking more to scope what's out there and expand your professional network for the future, you can simply use this time to learn more about people you're meeting.