A guest blog by Julie Livingston, Strategic Communications Professional and Co-VP, Mentoring, NY Women in Communications Foundation (volunteer role)
In conversations with numerous colleagues about my current job search, I often hear comments such as, “networking during the summer can be challenging because so many people are away and out of the office.” While temporary changes in schedule for vacation or business travel may impact occasional meetings, in my opinion, the summer is actually a perfect time to reconnect with existing contacts and focus on making new connections to help foster a job search. Warmer weather and often the downtime that summer brings for many executives makes them more willing and/or available to set up casual conversations by phone and informational meetings over cocktails or iced coffee during or after work hours. Many organizations may slow down on actually hiring over this time period, preferring to wait until after the Labor Day holiday to bring on new employees. That said, I plan on working especially hard over the next few months to schedule calls and in-person conversations with people in and outside of my network who can help me identify and lay the groundwork for my next career.
Set Networking Goals
Start immediately by setting summer networking goals. Create a target list of 25-50 companies and organizations you want to work for (not necessarily those where you already have insider connections). Include some that you consider to be a “reach,” because of their prestige and visibility. Keep a file of articles on these organizations to track key decision makers and news, which may impact their hiring policies. Note and adhere to the number of professional networking events or individual meetings you attend in a week or over the course of a month, or the quantity of calls or face-to-face meetings you want to schedule to fill your calendar between now and August 31st. Do a weekly check-in with yourself to keep things on track.
Tap Your LinkedIn Contacts
Once you have a target list of future employers, do a Linked In search (look under Interests, then Companies) to see if you have any primary, secondary or tertiary connections to the organization. If you have a mutual contact, request an introduction or send a cold pitch and mention your common connections. If you have no common connections, still send the cold pitch with a brief note (3-4 sentences maximum) about why you wish to connect and how your skills will benefit their company, requesting a summer meeting. It’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t get an initial response, but keep at it! If your pitch is customized to fit their staff needs, you will eventually hit gold. It goes without saying that your Linked In profile should be 100% optimized and peppered with key words to foster your search and that updating your status regularly will help.
Book Summer Events
I serve on the Foundation board of NY Women in Communications and have already registered for a number of summertime networking events and programs that are interesting, well attended and different from other cold weather programs. Media Bistro also has a number of worthwhile events (some are virtual) and skills boot camps (many in social media) over the next few months. Another terrific resource I discovered through a colleague is General Assembly. They have online and offline (at their NYC campus) education for executives, marketers and sales teams related to improving digital expertise.
Pack Business Cards
Lastly, if you’re like me, with multiple summer purses and tote bags, you will want to avoid the “I forgot my business cards syndrome” by packing a stack of cards in each bag NOW so you are prepared to network wherever you find yourself this summer.
What are your summer networking plans? Write me here at Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.