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How To Network Without Happy Hour, by Meghan Oakley via Change.org

June 11, 2009

Listen up AmeriCorps Alums! Whether you believe it or not, you have more developed professional networks than your counterparts who didn’t join AmeriCorps. Well, then why aren’t the job offers rolling in? You aren’t using your networks!

Whenever I think of networking, I think of the first Lafayette College alumni happy hour that I went to after graduation in DC. It was really fun, but professionally, it got me nowhere. I needed to connect with people in the field that I was interested in… not a bunch of random strangers that went to my college years before I did.

I’m not totally knocking happy hour… I just think that there is a more effective way. The key with my recently-graduated self is that I didn’t need to connect with more people, I needed to discover and make use of the network that I already had. You need to do the same. Some examples:

  • Sponsoring Organization: During your term of service, your project was most likely oversee by a sponsoring organization like United Way or Habitat for Humanity… your contacts here can be a great asset to you.
  • Corporation for National Service Staff: Sometime during your service, you probably connected with folks from CNCS… put those people on your list too.
  • Site Placement: This is probably where you have the strongest relationships… your direct supervisor and the staff that you worked with on a day-to-day basis.
  • Community Partners: All of the organizations that you worked with during your term of service… staff members, volunteers, and even individual community members.
  • Other AmeriCorps Members & AmeriCorps Alums: These are all your peers that you served with, and folks in a network of 500,000 AmeriCorps Alums.

By now, you should have a pretty big list of people–a network, actually. Now, how do you make it work for you?

  • Keep in touch: Whether it is to let folks know about a big event in your life or that you are on the job hunt, be sure to keep these relationships fresh with once-in-a-while emails, phone calls, texts, etc.
  • Be open: When you are on the job hunt, don’t be afraid to let people know that. Write a short email to your contacts about what you are looking for and your resume… before you know it you will have tons of people on the look-out for jobs for you.
  • Join AmeriCorps Alums: It is an organization focused on supporting you with job opportunities, connections to other alums in your neighborhood, and resources on careers.

Especially at small non-profits, where a lack of time and money sometimes hinders a national hiring process, knowing someone who knows someone might be your ticket in the door for an interview (the rest is up to you!). Want more on the subject? Check out one of Erin’s blog post on the subject. Looking for a job? Check out http://jobs.change.org/americorps.

Picture from: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=happy+hour+alumni&page=3

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