Networking is one of the most painful parts about building a career, especially if you are a shy person who prefers to have a nose in a book. I consider myself one of those shy people. I also liked to believe that I could let my merit speak for me and that I didn’t have to be “fake” and schmooze my way up the ladder.
However, I discovered that networking is really just making acquaintances—and possibly terrific friends—who happen to have the same career interests you do. Think of how you make friends after moving to a new town or starting a new stage in life. You probably ask friends you currently have if they know anyone in that area or that school. Then you spend time with those people, and your circle of friends expands. And that’s all networking is, except you might talk about career trends more, and you can’t drink as much, lest you embarrass yourself in front of a potential employer.
The Web site LinkedIn.com is a way for you to get accustomed to networking. If you’re already on Facebook, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t open an account on LinkedIn, which is like Facebook, only with more resume info and fewer embarrassing photos.
By signing up on LinkedIn, you can find friends of yours, and you can also search for specific companies. When you perform a company search, you can find out if you know anyone who works at one of those companies. A connection can work behind the scenes to help you get hired at a job. It isn’t fair, but, as Arnold writes about the myth of pure merit, networking can get you a job, especially if a company can choose only one applicant from a pool of equally worthy individuals.
**As always, this post isn’t intended to be an ad, but if we come across a site that will save you time or get you a new job, then we’re plenty happy to spread the word.