Your resume is a great way to get your foot in the door at companies you want to work for. Of course, you can get more mileage out of your time by networking rather than spamming your resume to every company that's tangentially related to your field. But knowing how to network can be really difficult.
It's not a class they teach in school, although they should. And while some networking classes do exist, they can be hard to find. Sometimes, learning how to network is as simple as attending events related to your field.
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Types of Networking Events
Many events are sponsored by highly respected firms in your field. These range from expert talks to further education courses in your field. Occasionally, you may find a networking event irresistible but it costs several hundred dollars.
These can be valuable events that expose you to people in your field who have the power to recommend you for jobs or help you build your career in other ways. You may want to cut your teeth on the free lunches and seminars, even if you find them a little less interesting, because practice is how you get better at it.
How to Network With Your Resume
If you take your resume with you to networking events, you might come off as a little desperate if you don't do it just right. It's important that you make people feel as if you're there to get to know them, learn from them, and listen to what they have to say and not that you're just angling for a job at their company. So be judicious with your resume.
Take a copy with you (printed on high-quality paper and tailored as much as possible to their company) and only produce it when asked.
Consider Giving your Card Instead
Most networking events won't end with you handing over your resume, but you want influential people to be able to contact you and get to know you. So, when learning how to network, give the person your card. It's easier for them to take your card with them than your resume, and you can always send them your resume in hard copy or over e-mail later.
Be sure to get that person's card as well, because the speakers and recruiters at these events hear from many job seekers and it's hard for them to remember everyone. By getting their contact information, you can contact them after a week or so to re-introduce yourself and tell them how much you enjoyed talking to them.
Resume Rules Still Apply
Just because you made a connection with someone at a networking event doesn't mean you can throw all rules out the window. If you're invited to apply or told about a position, you still need to tailor your resume and make it connect to the job description. Often, people within the company have access to job openings that the general public can't see. If the person you meet is interested in forwarding you job openings, he might be able to connect you with some that others can't see, which can give you a huge edge at that company.
Networking is much more valuable than simply sending out your resume to companies that are hiring. You will get much more use out of making contacts in the industry if you know how to network properly and make genuine connections rather than simply trying to get a job. And when you do network, be sure to always have a current resume on hand--LiveCareer's Resume Builder can help you create a job-winning resume quickly and easily.