Advice for Job Seekers
Philadelphia Networking for Career Connections
By Gary Hines
As a Philadelphia-based career consultant, I have to be in the loop, on the scene and on my A-game when it comes to making meaningful connections. Job seekers and career changers in the Bucks, Berks, and Chester, Delaware and Montgomery county areas should be aware of the many networking opportunities for career and business connections. One great source that I have found in the Delaware Valley is the Meetup network for job seekers. They have a variety of locations for leads, career coaches and connections in Malvern, PA or Cherry Hill NJ. Meetups are structured networking and information sharing events that bring together people that interested in the same topics. They mostly happen on a weekly basis through the Greater Philadelphia region.
The premiere networking event for Philadelphia job seekers can be found at MyCareerTransitions.com. These events happen monthly in Malvern, PA at Penn State University. I attended the most recent event with one of my clients and the room was full of job seekers, career managers and recruiters. It is definitely a good place to network with like-minded job seekers. This event had a panel discussion with 4 recently unemployed professionals who had “landed” (MCT speak for landed a job).
There are many other business and career networking events in the Greater Philadelphia area with events in Wilmington, Delaware, Princeton, NJ, Villanova, Radnor and Center City. A quick Google search will lead you to many of these events which are either at no-cost or low-cost which make them even more inviting. These events help you get in the same room with people who are mostly in the same situation or will be at some point. They are all looking to connect with someone who can help with job leads or a possible opportunity. One of the more powerful career networking events is called “Jumpstart Your Job Search” and is held quarterly in Wayne, PA. The next one is April, 23, 2016. Ford Myers does a monthly workshop in Radnor, PA called Career Success Seminars.
The biggest part of the career-job seeker-workforce employment network industry is to actually make a good connection. There is no reason to attend if you are not going to at least connect with one other person. Hopefully that person can help you or, sometimes more important, you can help them. In today’s market, it is more critical than ever to do more than just get a business card and shake someone’s hand. Networking can be real work and as a job seeker, you have to be prepared. Job seekers and career changers in West Chester, Doylestown, Blue Bell and Marple Newtown have to arm themselves with information and knowledge before they enter the event space. It is not just a good idea to do this, it is critical.
In my practice, I advocate for job seekers by telling them to approach a networking event with some critical research and data analysis. Believe me, it is more than cocktails and small talk. Networking 2.0 is structured and focused so that the successful job seeker is way above others in being an A+ networker.
This week’s debut post will be about some preliminary steps that should be taken before heading out the door to a Philadelphia area networking event. One personal thought is that networking should be treated like any other job search activity. The objective is to make a good connection with someone who you will contact after the event. Have you ever come home after these things with a pocket full of business cards but no real leads? It has happened to many of us. Remember, there are more to these events than Stephen Starr catering or Yards Brewing freebies. Those are nice perks, but they are not the point of the event.
This week’s personal advice for career changers and job seekers is to do some up front research. First, you need to research the organization presenting the event. Is this a single’s social event or will there be a presentation or panel? What were past events like and what about the venue? Hopefully you can do a basic search on Yelp or Philly.com. This may lead to some information about the organization and its history. More importantly, if you can find out who is on the guest list- bingo! That is key to your research into the kind of event it will be. If you can get an invite list, that is where the real research begins. Are they connected to you already on your LinkedIn or any of your social networks? Again, this will give you a better feel for who will be in the room. Sometimes this coveted list is not available, but the organization may have posted the event on Facebook or Meetup and you can search to find attendees. This is pre-prep for the very vibrant Delaware Valley and South Jersey career networking scene. Next time we will address other pre-networking activities that make driving and parking on a rainy night well worth the trip to a career/job seeking/lead generating network event