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September 10, 2010
Why Networking Outside the ‘Net Works
Whether in regard to the job search or other subjects, public events have proven to be invaluable when it comes to connecting with individuals with a broad range of knowledge and creating long-lasting personal connections. For job seekers, it is important to remember that every interaction counts, and there are ways to “create” interactions outside of traditional ways such as an actual job interview.

Whether attending industry-specific events or attending events designated to connect recruiters with candidates, the results are a thousand-fold, according to Lauren Kruk-Winokur, director of Academic Programs & Communications at the International Radio & Television Society Foundation.

“Networking events are a wonderful way to assist you as you develop as a professional. If you are looking for a job, these events can help you make new relationships, learn vital information, and increase your confidence while talking about yourself. If you are currently employed, networking events are a tremendous way for you to build relationships and share industry knowledge,” explained Kruk-Winokur, who coordinates several annual IRTS Foundation workshops and programs that connect university students and recent graduates with executives and hiring managers.

“If an event is attended by human resources professionals from companies who are looking to hire, the single reason they are there is to gain face-to-face time with qualified talent. In this market, recruiters are bombarded with hundreds of applicants applying online, making it hard for candidates to stand out. If you are looking for a new job, get to networking events! Recruiters would love nothing more than to meet you in person and learn all about how you are a qualified and dynamic star in the making.”

Various real-life examples provided by professionals across a variety of sectors confirm the importance of networking at the beginning of and throughout one's career.

In the case of individuals like Xica Andrews, national broadcast buyer at Starcom, meetings at events have led to excellent opportunities to break into new industries.

“Several years ago, before I even entered the media field, one of my friends told me about a Media Workshop that she knew I would be interested in going to," Andrews said. "Because I found out on the day the application for this workshop was due, I worked on it that morning and throughout the day, and then continued when I got home. I sent the application in time before the deadline that night but realized I forgot to send my résumé. I looked up the main contact's e-mail address on the Internet and wrote her an e-mail with my résumé attached and apologized for my mistake while asking her to please keep my application on the table for consideration

“I was later accepted to attend the workshop where I met a vice-president of a media company at the luncheon. I followed up with this VP after the initial meeting, interviewed for his company, and landed the job. Networking and perseverance are needed to make it in any industry."

The dynamic benefits of networking are felt globally as well.

According to Andrea Plienegger, deputy director of Sales at Paris-based Bedouk Meetings & Events Media, the relationships established via networking at conferences can have impacts that are hard to measure immediately.

“I can personally attest to the fact that congresses and industry trade shows are definitely a good way to do networking and make personal connections that last for a long time," Plienegger said. "While studying business tourism as a university student, I had the opportunity to participate in two major meeting industry events: the MPI Congress and the IMEX Trade Show.

"At the MPI Congress
, I happened to sit next to a sales and marketing director during lunch -- someone who I maintained contact with and met again at the IMEX trade show two months afterwards. I was eventually hired by this person, and have had two promotions in the five years since I joined Bedouk. All of this started with a lunch as a student at an industry congress where I made the right contact.

Whether you are planning a long career in a field where strong interpersonal skills are needed, like the client-facing roles of Andrews and Plienegger, or are interested in other industries, take the time to network at events. It will pay off significantly.

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Elias Kamal Jabbe is a Los Angeles-based Journalist and PR Specialist and the Founder of Multicultural Matters, an online media outlet focused on multiculturalism and international entrepreneurship. Feel free to connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.com/Elias213 for more information.
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