Twitter, LinkedIn, face-to-face networking, blogging, professional organizations, and even Facebook – all are (or can be) tools you can use to do the same thing:
Engage with your peers.
There are several good reasons to engage with your peers.
First of all, especially now while employers are unwilling to hire the unemployed, you need to have someone on the inside of target companies who is willing to help you make the case that missing the opportunity to bring you in to interview is a bad business move. Engaging with your peers in whatever medium is a good way to discover and connect with those potential “inside” people.
Second, especially in open forums like Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, networking events and meetings of professional organizations, you never know when something you say will strike a listener as particularly clever or relevant to their issues… and that listener just happens to be someone with the power to extend you an offer of employment (or at least an offer of an opportunity to make your case in front of those who can)!
But wait, that’s not all! By engaging with your peers, you can learn what they know that you don’t! Do they possess some relevant skill that you do not? Were you even aware of how that skill related to your career? Or perhaps they know something about a target company that you could use to get the attention of a hiring manager. Or maybe they can provide you with information on a company that wasn’t on your radar (but should have been).
But more important than what they can do for you is what you can do for them.
You read that right. What you can do for others is more important than what they can do for you. Your support network will only be as strong as the effort put in my its members (this means you!).
If you really need to, think of it as an investment in the future, bread cast upon the waters, or “Paying it forward“. But really, you’ll get more satisfaction from it by just doing it for its own sake. Be on the lookout for ways you can help your fellow human beings as we ride this crazy amusement park ride we call “life”.
By doing so, you stay engaged with and connected to the fabric of your community, building a support structure that will be there for you to call on when you need it.
It doesn’t matter what tools and techniques you use to engage with your peers, as long as your efforts are effective. Remember that the tools are not the point, engagement is!
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out other career-related entries.