Since first entering the job market, I’ve had many opportunities to seek employment. My first job out of school was working as a deck hand on a deep sea diver’s tender. You know what I'm talking about, the guys with the big metal helmets and weighted boots. No, we weren’t in the deep sea. We were working in the Hackensack River in Hackensack, New Jersey. That’s where a WWII submarine, the USS LING, is docked and open to the public for guided tours. The Submarine Memorial Association operates the NJ Naval Museum and the USS LING as a permanent memorial to the men who served and died in the submarine service. The work we performed allowed the boat to be docked in NJ. The diver had been hired to bury telecommunications cables deeper in the muddy river bottom so the Ling had enough room to pass over them without issue. It was the best paying job I ever had up to that point. I was earning $17/hr. for moving hoses around and making sure the air and water pumps continued operating. That was a small fortune in those days equivalent to about $90/hr today when indexed for inflation. Interestingly, I got that first job through networking.
My second job came through networking as well. A friend of my mother’s worked as a plant manager for Litton Automated Business Systems in Clifton, NJ. He hired me on to work in the machine shop. I started out on the drill presses and worked my way up through grinders, chuckers, lathes, and finally the big computer controlled Cincinnati Acramatic milling machine. I made parts for early mainframe computers, machining the core memory drums out of aluminum stock. These were eventually covered with a magnetic coating that recorded the data. The tolerances were in the .0001’s of an inch with the aluminum polished to a mirror finish. It was exacting work.
My third big job came through networking as well. After I became certified as an EMT in the state of New Jersey, one day when I was working at a gas station, I witnessed a young girl get struck by a motor vehicle. I ran across the street to render assistance. When the ambulance arrived at the scene, the responding paramedic said he was impressed with my field assessment. He told me the Jersey City Medical Center was actively hiring EMTs and Medics. I landed a job there the next day. The paramedic I had met had already told the department chief about me.
For some reason, after landing three successful network provided jobs, I began looking for work through traditional methods: submitting resumes, applying for jobs and talking to recruiters. For me, networking wasn’t a big draw when I worked in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Here in North Carolina, networking seems to be one of the best ways to go. One of the largest networking groups in the Raleigh area is offered through the Care Ministry of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary. I attended the Colonial JobSeekers group yesterday and must say it is quite an experience!
Meeting every Monday, there are approximately 200 people in attendance. It is the best organized and structured group I have seen within my limited networking frame of reference. There is a time for open networking starting at 8:00am over free coffee and bagels. At 8:30, there is a Spiritual Encouragement session in the Chapel where one of the church’s Pastors presents a Bible based devotional. After the devotional, the large group breaks up for more open networking and then moves on to the Special Interest Groups. Because it was my first time, I had to stay in the Chapel to attend the new member orientation, but later joined the Senior Management Group. There are groups for Admin, HR, Training, Education, Bio/Pharma, Manufacturing, Construction, Telecom, IT, Sales/Marketing, and Engineering. They also provide Interview Prep Workshops, Career Transition classes if you are seeking a position in a new industry, and basic and advanced Linkedin Training. The group meeting ends at 11:00am.
I met a lot of interesting people and am encouraged by what I saw. During the Chapel session, after the Pastor speaks, group members get up to share job landings, upcoming job interviews and prayer requests. Of the six or seven people who reported they’ve landed a job and are starting work next week, all of them found their jobs through networking. Yes, I’m encouraged.