One of the advantages – and disadvantages – to living in a city like Chicago is that there are plenty of opportunities to network. I’m not talking about the kind of high-level, cocktail-party events that are held on a nightly basis – you know, the kind that brag about getting 1,000 RSVPs into a 100-person capacity room…I’m talking about small, self-selected groups who provide a little bit more face time for the casual job stalker.
I’m taking Meetups (which get their own web site!), Tweetups (which you can find on Twitter), and other events via services like Eventbrite. As the organizer of two Meetup groups – and an attendee at several others – I’ve found there’s some common rules of conduct and behavior to all. In an effort to be supportive of my other job stalkers, here are some pet peeves/suggested tips:
- Behave Professionally, Even Though These Aren’t Networking Groups – At one of the Meetups I help run, we have several individuals who are seeking jobs, even going so far as to assume that since their target industry is involved in this group, they’ll just hang out until someone hires them. Whether you’re organizing a group or attending, please remember that social etiquette is still present.
- Be Kind To An Organizer – Most Meetup organizers are doing so because of a love of what they do. (In fact, Meetup charges a small fee for organizers). So although it might be easy to complain about venue, any possible charges, even the locations….don’t. In fact, why not consider asking an organizer if you can help make their lives easier? Which leads to….
- Nobody Likes A Know-It-All: There’s a gentleman in a particular Meetup who is really good at offering advice….but does nothing but show up and offer advice and guidance. Be willing to share your expertise, but also be willing to take action to help, whether it’s volunteering to put on an event or offering your business card.
- Be A Connector – don’t just bask in other’s glory; make an effort to introduce like-minded people. Be sure to be friendly, charming, and make an effort. After all, most job leads come through “weaker” ties, so be sure to not just approach those who could directly benefit you….as the old networking cliche goes, it’s easier to ask how you can help without reward than to focus only on those who can help you.
- Whether Planning Or Attending, Be Timely – Arriving slightly early isn’t a drawback – being able to meet people, say hello, and do some well-needed networking provides a great advantage. If you’re planning a meetup/Tweetup, being early also insures for a much more smoothly-running event, as possible issues can be dealt with in a timely manner.
- If You Want to Plan A One-Off Event….My personal preference is Eventbrite – no cost to use, you can integrate PayPal or Google Checkout (if you need to charge), you can create a custom links, and I believe you can even print off name tags. Meetup’s interface is a little hard-to-navigate, and quite honestly, it’s better for semi-regular groups. And planning your own networking event isn’t as hard as it sounds…
It’s easy to find great opportunities to meet like-minded people, especially when most “networking events”….have very little networking. But knowing how to leverage the power of smaller groups can be beneficial, and who knows where they’ll lead?
Heads-up: this weekend is the Learnapalooza festival in Wicker Park; I’ll be doing two presentations at the Lakeview Learnapalooza in July. I’ll be sure to fill you in when I get the details. Until next time, please feel free to connect with me via Linked In (just let me know it’s through Job Stalker), read my other online work, and as always – thanks for reading!