Are you exploring changing careers but struggling to get started?
Do you find yourself thinking ‘If only I knew someone who knows about this or that career or who could tell me how they broke into this field’
Maybe you have considered networking but think that it is something for high powered business types, not for you?
Read on to find out how everyone can use networking as part of their career change strategy.
When you mention networking, most people think of formal networking events where smart suited business types schmooze with their contacts and close big deals with a handshake.
Well, sure, that kind of networking goes on and can be very useful, but it is not always easily accessible to many career changers. But try these ideas for size before you give up!
So what else can you do?
I recommend that you try a much more informal networking approach. This really means just being prepared to actively use the leads and contacts you already have.
Think you don’t have any?
Just sit down and make a list of the people you know. Start with friends and family – they probably already know you are thinking of changing careers so they will be very ready to help.
But then spread the net wider to all those you know, or have known, through work, through social activities, through education and so on.
Go on, spread the net as widely as you can. I bet you can get a list of at least 50 if you really put your mind to it. Most people will come up with many more than that.
If in doubt, just take a look through your contacts list on LinkedIn and your friends on Facebook – I bet they add up to more than 50!
Now stop and think about the fact that if you have a list of 50 or more names, then each of the people on your list will probably also have a list of at least 50 names. So you have the potential to reach 2500 people! Yes, you already have a network!
You can approach the names on your list directly for advice and you can also ask them if they know anyone who could possibly help you with the help and information you need.
Your network can be a great tool at many stages when you are changing career.
No idea what you want to do?
Then use your network to find out about different careers areas. Chat to people about their jobs and see what attracts you. Ask them about the pros and cons of their job and their sector. If they have experience of changing careers themselves they will no doubt have tips to share on this too.
Know what you want, but don’t know what you need to get started?
Use your network to find people who are in some way connected with the field you are interested in. Ask their advice. How did they get their first step on the ladder? What do they recommend that you do first? What training or experience could be useful?
Know exactly what you want, but never see any jobs advertised?
Use your network to find out what companies and organisations are out there who might recruit in your chosen field. Explore the possibility of a short informational interview with a contact or offering to do some voluntary work experience. You may want to mention that you are thinking of changing careers and you are doing some ground work to find out more – most people will be impressed by you commitment. Your main task is to get known on the inside so that they think of you when a vacancy occurs so leave a copy of your networking business card with them.
The truth is that most people are very willing to give you some time and advice if you only bother to ask them. I bet if someone came to ask you for help, you’d be happy to offer it, so why should other people be different?
So I challenge you to get started on drawing up your list right away. Once you have done that, set yourself a target of making at least a couple of contacts each week and you will soon find that your plans for changing careers begin to take shape.
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