Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Is networking effective?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian kw5280's avatar
    Registered
    May 2009
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    64

    Is networking effective?

    Earlier this week I attended another career coaching event where the speaker was really trying to make the point that answering job ads is not the way to land a new job. She told us, as many others have before, that instead we have to connect with C-level personnel and establish a report with them. We should focus on being a resource for the company first then eventually they will look at bringing us on. One of the methods she promoted was monitoring the company through its website and news outlets then emailing your contacts and congratulate or make some other comment to let them know you have an interest in their activities. Then of course you can use your social media sources to spread the word about what a wonderful company they are.

    It may be cynical on my part, but I can't help but feel a senior level planner, especially in the private sector, really doesn't care I read an article about their latest project then blogged about it and promoted them on Twitter. Now I know networking has many more dynamics to it than just this approach. As an entry-level planner I want to connect with as many senior people as possible and learn from them, not just as a job hunter. So here's what I'm interested in hearing from the community.

    Senior Level Planners: How do you like junior planners (employees or outsiders) to connect or network with you? What can we demonstrate through a network connection that would peak your interest in us? How much interest can we show in you and your company before crossing the "creepy, needy, cyber-stalking, obviously looking for a job" line? Do you read junior planner's blogs and Tweets?

    Job Seekers: What kind of networking strategies do you use and have they been effective (not just landing a job but getting a solid connection that you believe will lead to a future job)? Have you been hearing the same ideas from career coaches and job searching seminars? Are you reluctant, like me, to engage in some of these techniques because you fear being more of a nuisance than a dedicated, but unemployed, planner?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,964
    In my experiences, networking in the public sector is vastly over rated. More on this after other comments.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Montreal/Quebec/Canada
    Posts
    67
    In any interaction, try to put yourself at their level, as someone that could provide constructive feedback, alternative ideas and even bring in skills, work and clients that they don't have.

    Less is more in that case. I would avoid Twitter, Facebook and the like. Limit communications to meaningful interactions. Meet people through conferences, parties, and planning-specific events.
    Short, meaningful moment that will bring you respect as an individual and planner is what you are after.

    Be careful in your actions, you're more transparent than you think.

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,127
    I think networking is important - probably more so for higher level jobs. I believe that getting people to know you, or your name for that matter, is a great first step to landing a job. At my last place of employment, the Director was hired in large part to his interactions with the administrator in different capacities over the years. Don't get me wrong, he was extremely qualified for the job, but I don't think that it hurt that he was in touch with the administrator.

    I think for entry level positions it is a little more touch and go. I personally think that if I met an entry level worker who wowed me in some capacity, if a job opened up and they applied, I would definitely use that in my judgment of potential candidates. I know we do that with interns.

    So for me, I think networking is a worthwhile venture, albeit a somewhat fruitless one. Why not get your name out there, meet some people and try and get them to remember you and think of you next time a job comes up. Can't hurt. I don't think twitter or facebook are the way to go, I don't have time to research what you are doing. If HR says you are okay in those terms, I support that. I would much rather meet you at a gathering of some sort or conference. I enjoy meeting people at state and national conferences.

    Good luck!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,802
    What experience did this career coach have with planning jobs? Networking is very important for MANY things not just earning job interviews. I used the same method you described about five years ago, and I think it's overkill. Land8lounge (a blog for landscape architecture) is really one giant linkedin/facebook/twitter blog and there are plenty of unemployed graduates/workers who are doing imaginary projects, research, design, etc. in the hope it will go somewhere.

    Be patient, and let networking take it's natural path. Too many people try to hammer networking and force it to meet thier current needs. I have worked in planning consulting for the past five years, and I have to market my firm constantly, in conferences, workshops, trade shows, etc. Sometimes I make a bunch of leads and sometimes I meet no one. It can be frustrating at times but it is not surprising.

    On a related note, I was appointed as the Professional Development Officer (PDO) for my state APA chapter a month ago. I enjoy giving back to the profession but it is also an indirect way to market my firm by putting us front and center in the planning community. I also plan on expanding the professional development committee's role to meet the needs of non-certified planners and planning students through networking, resume review, and a mentorship program, for starters. I strongly feel that APA, either at the national or chapter level, should work far harder at promoting the professional development needs of all it's members, in a "cradle to grave" approach from the student to the retired planning director.

    Hope this helps-
    Last edited by nrschmid; 14 Jun 2010 at 11:36 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    There are many different ways to land a job--you just never know what's going to work, and that is why you try everything.

    "Networking" is one of those words that doesn't really mean anything. Not to me, anyways. What does it really come down to? Being a professional, all the time. You meet somebody, you show interest in that person, you talk to them about what they do and what you'd like to do. To me, that doesn't sound like some kind of "strategy" I need to learn about at a career services conference.

    Sometimes I think career counselors just like to say things to differentiate themselves from all the other counselors out there. Remember, these people don't make a living findings jobs for people, but telling others how to find a job. Most of the time, it's stuff you already know. Also, many career coaches treat the job hunt as if there are "keys" to unlocking the whole thing, and all you need to do is find out what those keys are. It's in their interest to say that, because if they admitted that finding a job in a tough market comes down to the fact that many people out there will never find the job they want, they wouldn't have anything to offer.

    However, I think the best thing they might offer people is motivation and letting people know that it's alright to leave your chosen profession for a while to settle for a different kind of job.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,981
    The career management / counseling firms all try saying that you should call on companies and that if they like you, they will create a position. It can be true in the private sector, but as I have seen it, only when you are one of the leaders in your field and can offer the company something they see will lead to new business.

    In government, positions are not created for individuals. Rather, the position is created, and then there is a process by which people apply to fill it. Calling on them when there are no positions open is very unlikely to have any impact. The only reason to do it is to get an understanding of the local planning environment. I do the same as a consultant, visiting potential clients to listen to what they have to say about future plans and the issues that are most critical to them now and over the long term. These will help me to position my company - and you to write a cover letter and resume.

    Networking is a long-term investment in your career. Get involved, get known, demonstrate leadership, and stand out from the crowd. That is what may get you noticed, whether it is a consultant thinking about who would make a marketable addition to the team, or a community recognizing your name when you send in a resume for a job. As I said, though, this is a long-term effort. You can't expect much payoff from visiting a community, but you should see it after you have attended conferences for several years, served on a committee or two, written a few articles, and presented at a handful of events.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,964
    I agree with nrschmid, chocolatchip, and cardinal for the most part. "Networking" for jobs does not do much in the public sector when the first two cuts are made by HR before the planning director ever sees the applications.

    I network at conferences to learn. Learn more about my chapter, about what others are facing, and if they have ideas for helping me with problems. I have put myself in position to have continuing dialogs with speakers, but it has never been about an employment strategy.

    (could someone delete my previous post on this?)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Northern Utah
    Posts
    3,986
    By the same token, though....for that top job I think networking can be extremely important. My boss here, for example, is nothing but a networker. This guy knows everybody and everybody knows his name. So when some MPO or City is looking for a new Deputy Manager or a new CED Director, his name is virtually always in the air. They call him, it's unreal.

    I plan to fully exploit his networking when I'm ready to move on
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,348
    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    I agree with nrschmid, chocolatchip, and cardinal for the most part. "Networking" for jobs does not do much in the public sector when the first two cuts are made by HR before the planning director ever sees the applications.

    I network at conferences to learn. Learn more about my chapter, about what others are facing, and if they have ideas for helping me with problems. I have put myself in position to have continuing dialogs with speakers, but it has never been about an employment strategy.

    (could someone delete my previous post on this?)
    That's interesting. In the two local governments I worked in HR was required to provide the rejected applications to the director because HR didn't always have a firm understanding of what the minimum & preferred qualifications really meant. Networking can't get you past the the minimum qualifications, but it can move you to the top of a pile of similarly qualified applicants.

    I have worked for three public employers. In each case I believe my networking may have played a role in my being selected over other similarly qualified applicants. That said, all of my networking was from in-person relationships, not twitter, FB, etc. Professional internet networking seems somewhat effective though--I can think of probably a dozen posters on this site off-hand that got a leg up on the competition for a job through a relationship established on Cyburbia.

    Networking is about more than getting a job--it is creating a group of people you feel comfortable calling when you run into an issue at your job for advice or information. It is being able to pick up the phone and call another planner and get a response rather than using some lame email listserv that no one responds to.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered
    Jun 2010
    Location
    mesa, az
    Posts
    10
    I have found that networking the way that career counselors suggest doesn't come easily to me. I'm working on it, but I tend to be introverted. I find myself agreeing with what has been said previously. I also believe that networking with people in an area you feel passionate about is easier.

    For example, I also have a producer's license to sell Property and Casualty insurance. While I find the industry interesting, it doesn't evoke the same passion. Also many of the people I have met give off an air of perpetually selling (like going to aan auto dealership). It feels like they see me as a potential sale or a contract agent that they can use to get numbers for their commissions (if they are brokers or managers). I hope that made sense.

    I haven't joined the APA yet because money has been tight with the lack of employment and all but I have the money now. I"m wondering if anyone has noticed any effect with being an APA member when networking?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    For me, I feel there is networking and then there is Networking. The first is more what I have done in my career. Its really effortless - its simply the rapport you have established with people you work with regularly. The longer you stay in one place, the more vast your network is (and, to use development speak) the more social capital you have. The idea here is simply that those who you have worked with (at other organizations, departments, municipalities, etc.) have a good sense of your personality, abilities how it is to work with you, etc. You are a known quantity and when there is an issue that you need help with (looking for a job, for example) they may be able to help you and steer you toward someone who may be a really great fit. In fact, I was approached last week about the possibility of moving to another position at another organization (which I am seriously considering - its an area I would like to move into) and it grew directly out of my work collaborating with this organization on a number of projects.

    The latter is something I have dabbled in but not too much as it is not comfortable and I have not really had the need (partly because I have lived in the same town for over a decade). Cold calling folks or otherwise weaseling your way into their view feels uncomfortable to me and, from my own point of view (and I am not a senior planner) I am usually wary of such people. Its not often in my own line of work that such people end up being a little wacko. But you have to do what you have to do. Especially if you do not have much of a network to begin with. The important thing in my mind is to have humility, don't be pushy, but find a way to get the information across that you know what you are doing and have a genuine interest in the work. It works best when you don't need anything from others, but that is not a luxury many can afford right now. I think finesse will be an asset.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  13. #13
    Wahday, you put it best, in my opinion. There is networking and then there is Networking. The latter is the type bandied about by career counselors, the former is just normal social capital built up over time by professional practice.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,558
    Cardinal hit the nail on the head.

    The only thing I would add is treat networking as an opportunity to get to know people with similiar interests. Nothing I hate more than someone trying to push their company or their resume. Have fun with it. You will be surprised by just being friendly with people how much more information you will get which can lead to projects or jobs. Like others have said, join boards, committees, groups...anything to get your name out there.

    One of the best networkers I know does business development for a construction company. I know the guy well, we have played golf several times, had drinks together and are on a few committees. He has never once talked to me about his firm or what his firms capabilities are and how they could help my community. But, if I need something from a construction company he is always my first call.

    Through my network I was approached by a director of a much larger city and he informed me that this city was going to post a few positions and encouraged me to apply. He made no promised other than answer any questions I had. We had only met on a few occasions and played a round of golf together. But when he asked his network who they thought would be a good fit and he heard my name several times.

    Good luck!
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Oct 2009
    Location
    vancouver
    Posts
    65
    For me, I have never actively networked, my strategy has always been to maintain/improve connections I already have and develop them. That should really keep you busy enough. You don't really have to go out and find new ppl to connect with. If you current contacts are impressed with you enough, they will FIND people that would like to contact you, or you would benefit from.

    Email your friends once in a while, keep up to date. So far, this has gotten me every job I have had, I don't think I have ever gotten a reply when I sent out resumes (could be just my resume is bad hahaha) Few great contacts is better than many mediocre contacts. my 2cents.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2003
    Location
    MKS
    Posts
    2,847
    My job before this one was 100% networking. I was having a conversation with a local land use attorney who said, 'my friend just opened a planning consultant agency here in town, you should give him a call'. I did. Shortly after I was working there. It was a great gig.

    A have several friends who I know can tell similar stories.

    However, this is probably only true in the private sector (as it has been said).
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  17. #17
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    Wahday, you put it best, in my opinion. There is networking and then there is Networking. The latter is the type bandied about by career counselors, the former is just normal social capital built up over time by professional practice.
    Evey job I ever had after my first position came through from personal contacts I had made. Some one will say, hey, we are looking for someone to do.... And I got hired.

    Maybe I am lucky and inherited some gregarious gene from my parents. But I am in pretty constant contact with lots of people. Someone has a question about something and they shoot me an email and I try to help. This has a resulted in a large number of professional colleagues and some friends (just as good as a job, I got invited to a Redsox game!).

    This is part of networking, not Networking.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Above urban19's plane field
    Posts
    2,386
    Quote Originally posted by H View post
    My job before this one was 100% networking. I was having a conversation with a local land use attorney who said, 'my friend just opened a planning consultant agency here in town, you should give him a call'. I did. Shortly after I was working there. It was a great gig.

    A have several friends who I know can tell similar stories.

    However, this is probably only true in the private sector (as it has been said).
    For the most part, yes, but I did land my first job out of grad school with a state agency in a similar manner. I was having a chat with a professor after I wrapped up my comphrensive exams, who suddenly said "I talked to so-and-so from this agency, and they're about to advertise an opening - you should give her a call." I did, and she had me talk informally with a couple of other folks. It definetely got my application/resume moved towards the top of the pile, and got me an interview...plus I never would have known about the opening otherwise (the only place I know of where it was advertised was the state's on-line job site, which was not on my radar at all at that point in my job search).
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Social Networking
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 42
    Last post: 23 Jul 2009, 3:29 PM
  2. Replies: 14
    Last post: 03 Feb 2008, 9:33 PM
  3. Question about networking
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 7
    Last post: 01 Nov 2007, 8:07 PM
  4. Networking in Tampa?
    Student Commons
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 26 Oct 2006, 3:03 PM
  5. Networking Groups
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 4
    Last post: 15 Feb 2005, 6:40 PM