Career Center Blog

April 24, 2009

Permanent networking: Creating a full-time job search community


If you're reading this blog, chances are that you're in the process of finding a new job. But even if you're happy with your current employment, the fragile state of the economy may well force you to change your career plans in a hurry. Employed or not, it's always a good idea to keep networking a permanent part of your everyday routine.

The definition of networking, of course, differs from person to person. For some, it just means keeping in touch with current and former colleagues, maybe going out for a few drinks or attending a seminar or two. For Seattle career coach Sherri Edwards, networking is a full-time activity that requires constant attention and often a helping hand from a facilitator.

For the last eight years, Edwards, founder of the Resource Maximizer consulting business, has conducted a networking group that includes regular meetings, workshops, guest speakers and continuous follow-up sessions to help clients find the right job for their particular talents.

"I started this around the millennium, the last time the economy went to hell in a handbasket," she says. "Getting a job requires the development of relationships. Long before LinkedIn existed, I developed a data sheet that I'd exchange with the group so that each member would learn more about each other."

Most of the work in the job-search group focuses on long-term career development. "We come up with not just a Plan A or B but a Plan C as well, and develop strategies about how to reach your goals," Edwards says. "Many have been able to achieve Plan A, but then they turn around and Washington Mutual shuts down. The last 10 years have been rocky and wild."

As needs have increased with the rising unemployment rate, the frequency of Edwards' group meetings has increased. In 2004, after a large round of layoffs, she added night meetings. In recent months, she's had to increase the frequency of meetings from once a month to every other Monday.

Some of the benefits of maintaining a permanent network include the assistance you can get down the road. In Edwards' group, if a person is having trouble reaching the right people at a particular company, the other members will help out however they can. "We call it 'circling the wagons,'" she says. "Often there is someone else who knows a hiring manager at the company and can help make the right contacts and put their application in the right hands."
This teamwork, built on long-term relationships, is what sets her Resource Maximizer groups apart from other support networks, Edwards says. "Many of the members will keep in touch after they get jobs and encourage others in their search," she says. "That's just how business will get done in this economy. It's satisfying to go through the process and prove that it works."

Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

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Hi there Sherri,

I like your conceptual approach. I have always had a hard time with the semantics of "networking." It has always seemed to me that the meaning is to pretend to like someone until you can get something from them. Relationship building over the long haul as you suggest is the most sincere and genunie way to go. Good concept.

I'd like to be a speaker at one of your meetings sometime.

Let me know if I can help.

Rod Mattson
Mattson Communication Training

Have you tried ? I found my job there a year ago. It looks at all job sites from one place. Saves time.


i need the job inmediatly i am yamile gonzalez my job is the installer cabinet for many years

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Karen Burns Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Kristen Fife Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.

Lisa Quast Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Randy Woods Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Former contributors

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."


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