4 Tips to a Networking Success Story

Last post, I put up some benefits of losing your job. Here, I want to illustrate how important networking is to getting that job in the first place. I realize I am jumping around a bit, but when this story came to me, I just had to share it. First, let us go backwards to a piece of advice I got years ago…

When I was a student, I attended a lecture where an employer said in his presentation that the best thing we could do to find work after graduation was to keep in touch with everyone we met, including himself. I have never forgotten that advice, and today I heard a story that I think brings it to life rather nicely. It is a story about someone getting a job just last month after an extended amount of time (almost 4 years) being “self employed” (unemployed) and I thought it had several points that might resonate with some of us who have been looking for work.

1. Form Relationships

2. Build Relationships

3. Keep up with the Industry

4. Add Recent Work (even pro-bono) to your Portfolio

The person I heard from was laid off in Fall of 2008 just like so many of us. He leveraged his basic office skills (described to me as typing, answering phones, and showing up on time) to find temp and volunteer work in various places. In each of those presumably “outside Landscape Architecture” circles, he formed relationships with new people and kept in touch as work opportunities continued to shift. By keeping his growing network aware of his continued hunt for full-time work in Landscape Architecture he actively built relationships through personal contact and social networks.

In addition, my friend decided to keep up with the industry by attending seminars, through organizations like AIA and CLF; reading trade magazines, and earning his LEED AP credential. Through these efforts, he received several referrals for paid freelance projects and consulting work with design firms. He also accepted a couple of pro-bono projects. With all of these opportunities he was able to add recent work to keep his resume and portfolio fresh.

One of the design firms this guy was consulting for offered him a full-time permanent job after he spent a few months consulting for them part-time. The opportunity came from people he’d met three years before at a seminar. My favorite part of his story is that two weeks after being hired, he was in a position to recommend another person to the same firm – someone he’d met along the way, and who is now consulting for his new employer part-time (just like he had been weeks before).

“It’s not who you know that matters – it is who knows you.”

I think it is especially interesting that while he was asked to share his resume and present his portfolio at an interview for the consulting work, it was essentially the relationships that he’d maintained that got his foot in the door in the first place to get the chance to talk about his work and then later prove himself as a desirable hire.

I related this story to another friend who made an excellent point. She said, “It’s not who you know that matters – it is who knows you.” She’s right. So if you’re trying to get hired on the merits of your resume and portfolio, but aren’t putting at least as much effort into meeting people and staying in touch with them, as important as the resume and portfolio are, I think it is time to reconsider that strategy, especially since of these two people I mentioned, neither of them found their current position by applying to an advertised job.

Sound familiar?! This seems to be the current status for employment of a lot of Landscape Architecture people: networking, consulting, and giving back. Landscape Architecture firms are still largely gun-shy about hiring a permanent employee. However, the word on the street is that firms are getting busy again. So, keep your ear to the ground, form relationships, build relationships, keep up with the industry, and add recent work to your portfolio. It will pay off!

Got a great job-getting / networking story? Share it below!

Please send me your best piece of career advice for the next post – I’ll be putting up some great stuff I’ve been gathering!

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