Networking over the summer? “Absolutely!” say People First Career Management consultants, who encourage using networking – regarded as the best tool in your career development toolbox – 12 months a year. Summer can afford time to strengthen, plan and flex your networking muscles. Opportunity can be around any corner – so it’s important to know and be comfortable with your plan and skills. People First consultants provide guidance to clients in all these areas.
The summer is generally seen as a time when “things slow down”. Folks often pause and escape to a favorite location or activity — making the most of sunsets, the outdoors and time with friends and family. So, how does networking fit into this easy-going summer vibe, when it seems like “work” slows down?
Time To Reimagine, Plan and Practice
Being on “summer-time” creates space to relax and reflect on your career path. Let your mind wander to imagined possibilities. Take stock of your job knowledge, experience and strengths. Journal what your next job looks like and how to make it happen. Perhaps you already have identified your next dream job. Summer can be a fertile time to plot a vital step in your pivot – savvy networking.
Networking is essentially building and retaining relationships with key people to grow your circle of contacts in a purposeful way. Friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, past co-workers and suppliers are examples of key people. Brainstorm a list of such people in your life. Create a script of information about yourself and questions for your networking target with the goal of a two-way exchange of knowledge. You want to present yourself in the best light as well as gain insight on potential opportunities. People First Career Management consultants coach clients to achieve optimum networking experiences using active listening, strategic interrogative skills and open-ended conversation, as well as caution to avoid dead-end pitfalls like the expert-agreed number 1 “No-No” – asking for a job during a networking exchange.
“Ready, Set, Go” Approach to Networking
Networking can take many forms. For example, there are planned exchanges over which you have some control. And unexpected – surprise if you will – networking situations that happen organically. Summer can be delightfully sprinkled with informal, casual networking moments on the dock, patio or golf course. Conversations often flow to topics of work or people in common, therefore bridging to your networking messages can be a natural extension. It is important to be able to recognize these instances and be sufficiently prepared and comfortable with your script in order to genuinely and naturally respond.
Considering that 80% of jobs are not posted, in-person networking – whether orchestrated or organic – is the single most successful pathway to the “hidden job market”. Keep your career marketing profile up to date for a “ready, set, go” approach to networking this summer and every season of the year.