This past weekend I was on vacation. Technically, it was a camping trip; realistically it was very much more than that. There were 11,000+ people with a common interest that all volunteer together. Think something like Burning Man but older, more established, and with participants around the globe.
I taught two tracks on using volunteer experience in our group for resume content and networking. I asked everyone in both class tracks "how many of you know the title and companies where your fellow volunteers work?" I was greeted with a few blank looks.
When you volunteer with someone, you *work* with them. They know your strengths and work ethic. They are also a valuable resource for job seeking. As a recruiter, one of the first things I ask when I meet someone is about their careers/jobs. It's natural for me in my profession. But it is also relevant for anyone that is job seeking.
But it isn't just your volunteer organizations. Your 3rd grader's teacher may be married to the CFO of a local company looking for an Accounting Manager. Your yoga instructor may have a roommate that is a manager at an auto parts store looking for a sales associate. My point is, "networking" isn't about asking for a job. It's about building your resource pool, and getting to know the people around you and how you can benefit each other. And that is a key concept: benefiting EACH OTHER. It isn't just recruiters that know who's hiring, it's also anyone that is working.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the single most effective way into any organization is employee referrals. So get to know the employees of target companies you are interested in working for.
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