I know of one consultant who flies to meet his clients for lunch anywhere in North America. He lives in the small Colorado town of Telluride. He has chosen to live in paradise and pay the price of frequent travel.
In your job search, instead of flying across the country to meet one person, you can meet with 100 potential employers. You will only pay for one plane ticket and 2 nights in a hotel. So bite the bullet. Pay up. Go to a convention related to your field of work.
But how do you effectively work, or network, at a convention? Five steps:
- Get a list of all the exhibitors and speakers. Don’t be picky at this stage. Research and call every company that is close to the field you want to work in. Don’t ask for the HR department, ask for a manager, marketing or sales. Talk to them about who will be coming to the convention. Call the best contacts who will be coming. Tell them you’ll see them at the convention.
- Go to the convention and make your first pass in the morning of the first day. Quickly go to every booth on your list and collect materials and business cards. Just explain that you will be back, but need to work quickly this morning.
- Go back to every booth on your list and talk in depth with the people you want to contact. Work a priority system. Who is most likely to hire you? Ask them questions you have about their company and their field. Make sure you have the business card of everyone you talk to. Give them your card. You are building a network. You might discuss employment, but this is not the time to apply for a job.
- Enlist everyone in your job search. Everyone who made it to the convention has influence where they work. They have been talking to new people, finding things out about the industry. Enlist them in your job search. When you get home, contact everyone you met OR WANTED TO MEET. Call them. Chat briefly. Then ask if they heard of any openings for someone like you. Ask who else you should contact. What if they are a techie and you are a salesman? Call them anyway. They’re a CEO and you are an engineer? Call them. A conversation about the convention leads naturally to what is happening in your field and job openings.
- Send an email to everyone you talk to. Thank them for their time and ask them to forward the email to anyone who might get you closer to the job you are looking for.
If you work a convention aggressively you will find dozens of openings that aren’t advertised. You’ll even find out about jobs at companies not at the show. Why? Because the people manning the booths are the best and the brightest. They are heavily recruited by other companies. They know which companies are looking for talent. Aren’t those the people you want in your job search network?
Something To Do Today
You need a list of conventions. Most people forget to include the association conventions they can attend that are less than 200 miles away. Go back over your list of conventions and add a list of local and regional association conventions you can attend.
Later: How to find a job at a convention – as an exhibitor
What to leave out
Job security – what permanent means