Looking for that next job, internship, or resume bullet? Competition is fierce out there, but you can get a leg up on the competition with these six networking resources that people don’t utilize well or often enough:

1. Professional career counselor.

Conduct an internet search for “career counselor” in your area, and you may be surprised by how many options pop up. In an increasingly competitive job market, with most candidate’s moves broadcast far and wide by social media, the job hunt is dicier than ever. This growing consulting niche recognizes and respects that fact, and experts range from general advisors to the industry specific. Don’t want to spring for a personal session? Check out classes at your local library, community college, or chamber of commerce, or register for a webinar or online class. While you can find some resources for free, it is worth spending a few bucks when you need professional assistance. One-on-one time with a professional can help identify strengths and point you in the right direction, often with a Rolodex of referrals.

2. Alumni network.

Did you graduate from college or high school? Did you ever play sports for a league, or belong to a hobby organization or social club? Have you ever been a part of a professional association; if not, are you eligible to join one? We often think “colleges” when we hear the words “alumni network,” but the net is much more broad. Expand your circle by all means possible. If you are feeling shy about reaching out, remember that these are the folks most likely to vouch for you as a person and as a professional. Be mindful of putting people first, networking second, but don’t hesitate to let them know what you seek, and why – networking is the reason alumni organizations exist, after all.

3. Friends of friends.

Play a true-life version of “six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and start asking your friends who they know. Whatever you are pursuing, it’s guaranteed that someone knows someone, who knows someone, who can help you out. Even if that contact is simply a number to call and introduce yourself, hey, that is one more person out there who knows who you are and what you are trying to do – and this one is in the industry you want to be in.

4. Local chamber of commerce.

Did you know that your local chamber of commerce exists to help businesses succeed? If your networking adventure has an entrepreneurial slant, dial up the Chamber and ask if they have any resources available to help your cause. You will likely be surprised at how much is out there.

5. Social media.

Surprised to see this one make the list? Think less time on Facebook, more time on LinkedIn. While you should take advantage of the opportunity to let family, friends, and internet stalkers know what you’re trying to do and why, don’t post any announcements until your accounts present a “you” that deserves to be helped. Think more professional, less “Sunday fun day” photo montage.

6. Social or hobby clubs.

Do you belong to any social or hobby clubs, where you can share your passion for bowling, bee keeping, books, and even pursuits that do not start with the letter ‘b’? If not, get your Google on, find a club near you, and join it, now! Networking means meeting people, and your best “you” is one that is engaged, happy, relaxed, and excited about what they are doing – exactly how you are when you’re doing something you love. Bonus tip: if you’re a mother, join a local mothers’ club. Women are inherently hardwired to support each other, and no one realizes what a difficult task raising a child and growing a career is like other women trying to do the same thing.

 

Need more ways to grow your professional network? Check out these 10 Business Networking Tips.

Featured photo credit: Luc Legacy via flickr.com

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