Networking–It’s about connection

networkbubbles

by Melany Hallam

Have you ever got a job through your favourite uncle or through the friend of a friend? Finding work this way sure is a lot easier than applying to an online ad or cold calling a potential employer, isn’t it? Everyone has friends and relatives who want to help them out when it comes to job search–that’s how people work. Put simply, if another person likes you, they are more apt to help you than not help you. There’s another name for this process, it’s called “networking”.

Networking is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many, including me. I’ve always found it easier to help friends connect with possible employers or work on a project than to help myself do the same thing. This isn’t an uncommon problem–it can be tough to put yourself out there. To me, it can feel very forced and inauthentic.

But I’ve discovered quite recently that my idea of the networking process as an awkward work/social event where you shamelessly promote yourself is dead wrong. I’m already networking and I didn’t even realize it. How so? Well, right now, my two largest clients are organizations I was introduced to through friends. I wouldn’t even have been aware of the opportunities on my own. Neither of these clients advertised for a contractor, it was all done through personal connections.

When you think about it, it only makes sense. Why would a company want to go through the process of advertising, selecting candidates, interviewing and decision-making if there’s an easier alternative? In fact, by networking, you’re doing a potential employer a favour by saving them the time and money involved in advertising a position!

Networking as a process can be made much less scary if you change the way you think about it. Don’t view it as asking for a job. Think of it as a research project or just a way of finding people who are interested in the same things you are. Networking is a two-way street.

There are lots of ways of getting over your fear and loathing of the whole networking concept. Here are some good tips from a Harvard Business Review article on changing your thinking:

  1. Focus on learning. Instead of attending a job fair or work event with the attitude that it’s a necessary evil, keep an open mind. Who knows? You may learn something new and helpful to your job search, learn of a better way to do your existing work or narrow your job search focus on something which really interests you. It’s not necessary to be constantly promoting yourself. In fact, it’s often best to keep the promotion part of the conversation to just a very brief summary of your background and general career goals.
  2. Identify common interests. You may find that the person working the information booth at a job fair has the same non-work interests as you. Maybe you’re both crazy into mountain biking or skiing. Or you’re both rabid fans of the same music. Interests don’t have to be work-related to help you build a good working relationship. Think about it for a minute. Who would you want to help find a job or work with? Someone you really connected with over your shared interests or someone who couldn’t meet your eyes during a short and awkward conversation?
  3. Think about what you can give. Networking isn’t all about getting what you want. It’s also about helping others, even if it’s just by listening to the other person’s story. Too often in a conversation, people spend their time thinking about what to say next instead of really listening. Who knows what you might learn, or how you might connect to that person in a more authentic way? There may be no immediate benefit to you in terms of work, but it could lead to an opportunity for you (or for the other person) in the future.
  4. Find a higher purpose. Instead of focusing on what a networking event can do for you personally, consider it an opportunity to help your clients or to raise the profile of your company. It could even be a way of promoting a cause that you believe in. In effect, you’d be working on behalf of someone else rather than yourself, and that can often be much easier to do.

On Tuesday, April 4 (11:30 am–1:30 pm), Career Link is hosting a free job fair at the Powell River Recreation Complex (upper level). Practice changing your thinking about networking, and meet potential employers at this informal event! For more info, contact Peter Harvey at 604.485.7958 or email peter@careerlinkbc.com.

Interested? Here are some more handy tips to prepare yourself for Job Fair 2017:

https://careerlinkbc.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/prep-yourself-for-job-fair-2017-april-4/

Prep Yourself for JOB FAIR 2017 (April 4)

Here are some handy tips from our friends at Career Cruising

Job-Fair-Poster2017swapnshop

 
MAKE THE MOST OF JOB FAIRS
To get the most from a fair, you will need to be well prepared. The tip sheet below helps ensure that you’re ready to put your best foot forward.
BEFORE THE FAIR:
 Determine your goals and identify which skills you want to market. Think about how your skills, knowledge, and experience fit the organizations’ needs. You can track this information in My Plan
 Find out which companies and organizations will be represented, and research them to determine if they are of interest to you
 Prepare copies of your resume (or resumes if you have several versions), tailored to a variety of career choices. Be sure to review the tips in the Employment Guide to polish your resume
 Create a calling card or networking card that includes your contact information and a skills summary
 Consider taking supporting documents such as reference letters, your professional portfolio (including examples of your work and accomplishments), copies of your transcript, and completed job applications. You can build up your library of documents in My Files
 Compose intelligent, well-informed questions that you want to ask employers. It may be helpful to review the “Questions You Can Ask” section of the Employment Guide
 Practice your handshake and your 30-to-60 second self-introduction
 Plan what you will wear; dress professionally, as you would for a job interview
DURING THE FAIR:
 Pick up a floor map, and plan which companies you want to visit. You may want to speak to representatives from companies you are really interested in after you have practiced and warmed up with some other companies first
 You should take copies of your resume to leave with employers at their request, but, ideally, you want to send (the next day) a letter or resume that reflects the information you gained from your discussion with the employer. If you do leave a resume on the day of the fair, follow up the next day with a letter
 Do not arrive during the last half hour of the event because employers may be tired after a long day or need to leave early
 Do not take an employer’s promotional materials without first talking to the company representative and then being invited to do so
 Visit booths by yourself. You will appear to be more confident and be better able to focus and market yourself if you are on your own
 Do not directly ask for a job. Present your self-introduction and ask questions of the company representative
 Be mindful of the time you take with each employer. Do not spend more than ten minutes with an employer unless the representative invites you to continue the conversation. Other people will want to speak with the employer, so be careful not to monopolize an employer’s time
 Collect the names of appropriate people to follow up with after the fair
 Be organized: take a folder to collect handouts, a calendar in case an employer wants to schedule an interview, and a pen and paper or electronic organizer to record notes and required follow-up

BC Buy Local Grants

The $8 million Buy Local Program offers funding in 2016/17 for BC’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors to enhance local marketing efforts to increase consumer demand and sales of BC agrifoods.

Businesses and organizations can apply for matching funding (i.e., applicants are required to contribute 50% in cash of the total cost of the project budget) for projects that promote local foods that are grown, raised, harvested, or processed in BC.

The amount of cost-shared funding applied for must be considered reasonable relative to the applicant’s annual sales in the previous and current years. The maximum funding available as a percentage of reported annual revenue is 30%.

Program Objectives

Projects must meet the following objectives:

  • Increase use of British Columbia’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors in the domestic marketplace
  • Build consumer preference, demand and sales for BC agrifoods sold within the province

Eligible Activities

Businesses and organizations representing BC’s agriculture, agrifood or seafood sectors are accessing up to $75,000 for eligible projects to a minimum of $5,000. Activities must be NEW activities to the applicant to be found eligible. Examples include:

  • Media advertising (e.g., radio, TV, print)
  • In-store promotions and advertising (e.g., signage, recipes, in-store demonstrations, consumer contests, flyer advertising)
  • Adding your buy local identifier to on-product labelling
  • Social media or web campaigns (e.g., Buy Local specific landing page)
  • Trade shows and events
  • Branding and public relations activities

Eligible Activities

BC Food: any food, seafood or beverage product made entirely from ingredients sourced in BC or composed of more than 85% of their main ingredients from BC. All processing and packaging must be done in BC.

BC-made Food: any food, seafood or beverage product that is processed and packaged entirely in BC. When the main ingredients are available in sufficient quantities from BC producers, they must be used.

To be considered for funding, applicants must demonstrate that their marketing efforts will result in increased consumption of their products and generate increased revenue for the applicant.

For specific information on eligible products (primary production and processed food and beverages) please refer to the BC Government’s Buy Local Program FAQ or contact our Buy Local Program Coordinator.

Ineligible Activities

All activities must be directly linked to increasing sales. The following activities will no longer be eligible for funding:

  • Social media such as Facebook and Twitter as stand-alone activities (these are only considered eligible as part of a complete social media campaign)
  • Awareness building activities with the exception of “new” products introduced to the domestic market
  • Domestic market research
  • Marketing plans
  • Translating materials into English
  • Educational events (e.g., producer workshops)

For more information about eligibile/ineligible activities: BC Government’s Buy Local Program FAQ

Eligible Applicants

  • Associations
  • Cooperatives
  • Marketing boards
  • Aboriginal groups
  • Non-profit organizations
  • For-profit organizations
  • Individual firms (including food processors)

All applicants must have a head office, or be registered, in BC.

Deadlines

Application and Adjudication dates for 2016/17*

2016-17BuyLocalAppDates

*subject to available funds

For more information

Please contact our Buy Local Program Coordinator

Donna Anaka

T 604.329.2290 E danaka(at)iafbc.ca

Download the brochure: BC Government’s Buy Local Program

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