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June 2021 Newsletter

Making Meaningful Connections

By Gary Hines, President, The Gary Hines Consulting Group, LLC

As a Philadelphia-based career consultant, I must be in the loop, on the scene and on top of my A-game when it comes to making meaningful connections. Job seekers and career changers in Pennsylvania should be aware of the many networking opportunities for career and business connections.

One great source that I have found is the Meetup network for people seeking job leads, career coaches and connections throughout Pennsylvania. Meetups are structured networking and information sharing events that bring together people who are interested in the same topics.

An outstanding networking event for job seekers is Career Transitions which occurs monthly at Penn State Great Valley. Since the pandemic, it has been virtual, but that may change as we begin to open sites. I attended an event with one of my clients, and the room was full of job seekers, career managers and recruiters. This particular event had a panel discussion with 4 recently unemployed professionals who had landed jobs.

Nationally known career guru Ford Myers does a monthly workshop in Radnor, PA called Career Success Seminars. Again, these events have all been held virtually for the last year, making it easier for everyone to attend.

There are many other business and career networking events in Pennsylvania. A quick Google search will uncover these events, many of which are no cost or low-cost. Some events bring job seekers and recruiters-employers together, such as Hire One’s Business Networking meetings in Chester County, PA.

A great networking resource that job seekers often overlook is the local professional association in their field. For career development professionals in Pennsylvania that would be, of course, PACDA!

As career coaches, we need to educate clients/students that the primary goal of attending an event, whether live or virtual, is to make good connections with one or more people that they will contact afterwards. And they need to be on the lookout not only for someone that can help them, but also people the client/student can help in some way.

An event is more than cocktails, small talk, catering and freebies. It’s not just shaking someone’s hand and getting a business card. Have you ever come home after these things with a pocket full of business cards but no real leads? It has happened to many of us.

Networking is real work and attendees must be prepared. Job seekers and career changers must arm themselves with information and knowledge before they enter the event space. It is not just a good idea to do this, it is critical. There are some preliminary steps that should be taken before heading out the door to a networking event.

  • Research the organization presenting the event: Is this a single’s social event or will there be a presentation or panel? What were past events like and what about the venue? You may be able to do a basic search on Yelp. This may lead to some information about the organization and its history.
  • Find out who is on the invite/registration/guest list: If you can get the list, that is where the real research begins. Are they connected to you already on LinkedIn or any of your social networks? Sometimes this coveted list is not available, but the organization may have posted the event on Facebook or Meetup and you can search to find attendees.

So, this is pre-prep for the very vibrant virtual (and soon to be in- person) career networking scene. These pre-networking activities will make driving and parking on a rainy night well worth the trip to a career/job seeking/lead generating network event. Happy connecting in 2021!

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