The Importance of Personal Networking During Your Job Search

While looking online for your next job opportunity, many people get frustrated, exhausted from the search, or fed-up with the long application process. In today’s economy, searching online for job openings is an important part of the process. However, it is not the ONLY aspect that you should consider while seeking the next move in your career. In fact, many people underestimate the importance of personal networking during the job search.

Recently, I worked with a client that had casually met with a business acquaintance and mentioned that she may be looking for a different opportunity. The person told her to send her resume and cover letter to her—just in case there was a potential fit with the organization. Guess what? Less than a month later, my client was contacted because they are creating a new position and she may be the perfect. The job is not advertised nor will it be posted online. It is only because of the personal networking that my client has a chance at moving ahead in her career.

If you are interested in building your career opportunities, build and utilize your personal network. If your job search is not a secret, tell people that you are actively searching. Be specific and let them know the types of positions you are seeking. If you are a “stealth job seeker,” then tell only one or two trusted individuals that you are actively looking for a job so they can remember your information when a job arises.

Next, be sure to schedule time for personal networking. Make it a priority within your schedule. Attend local Business After Hours events, sign up for a workshop within your field, or invite a trusted colleague to lunch. Write down your personal networking goals. For example, “Attend one networking meeting and invite Bob Smith for lunch during February.” Make your goals as concrete as possible and assess them at the end of each month.

Finally, be prepared. While you don’t want to be pushy, keep a copy of your resume and your personal business card with you at all times. When meeting with business acquaintances and colleagues and they ask for your information, you will have it readily available. This will show that you are prepared, organized, and eager for that next job opportunity.

As someone that has built my business from the ground-up and utilized in-person networking greatly to accomplish this, please email me with any personal networking questions: heather@feather-communications.com. And, if you are ready to move forward with your job search, please visit our website.

Feather Communications Owner Receives Polka Dot Powerhouse Award

On Saturday, October 25, Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, received the “Extraordinary Business Woman of the Year Award” for the Eau Claire Chapter of Polka Dot Powerhouse. Polka Dot Powerhouse is a rapidly-growing, unique, and refreshing community for women’s business and personal networking.

Heather has been involved with Polka Dot Powerhouse for over two years and truly enjoys the camaraderie, business relationships, and friendships that have blossomed since joining this group. Furthermore, she enjoys the opportunities of being able to visit various Polka Dot Powerhouse chapters throughout the area.

“Being elected to receive this award means the world to me. There are so many amazing business women in this organization and to be voted on by my peers is humbling,” Heather said. “I’m excited to continue my journey with Polka Dot Powerhouse and look forward to the continuous opportunities it offers in both my personal and professional lives,” she concluded.

For more information about Feather Communications services, please contact us today!

How Volunteering Can Help Your Business

When you own a small business, you are often short on time and money. Unfortunately, both of these things are required when starting, maintaining, or growing a business. And, when you have been in business for awhile, the calls start coming in to your office. Would you be able to assist with this event? How about sponsoring a community-based children’s festival? Can your business provide monetary donations to an upcoming benefit? And, you first thought is the following: “How am I going to fit that in to may already packed schedule?” The next thought is, “Why would I want to do that?”

Volunteering your services can greatly enhance your business. And, volunteering can mean many things. It can mean providing a monetary donation to a local event, speaking about your business to a civic organization, or providing a presentation to a local chamber of commerce. All of these methods have one thing in common: they allow for added visibility for your business. When someone calls Feather Communications and asks if the business will participate in volunteer work, my question is usually the same: “How could I potentially help?”

Does this mean that I take part in every volunteer or free opportunity? No – no business can possibly do that. However, it means that I do investigate to see if my business will be a good fit with the potential volunteer engagement. Not every opportunity is a match for my organization. And, if it’s not, I respectfully decline the opportunity.

Here is an example of how volunteering can really help grow your business. Recently, I was asked if I would make a presentation to a local chamber of commerce audience. The presentation had to do with social media and how to utilize it effectively. Because this is an area of business I want to promote, I decided to take the opportunity and made the presentation about a week ago. The chamber of commerce did not pay for the presentation; however, I knew that I would be meeting a variety of professionals throughout my area.

Since that non-paid presentation, I have worked with a company to set up its Facebook page and met with another attendee to revise and update her resume. Both of these jobs are paid. And, if both of these clients are happy, then they will tell others. In this way, volunteering your services and expertise truly does help your business grow. Furthermore, it raises your profile within the community and provides additional exposure for your business.

So, the next time someone asks you or your small business to participate in an event for free, strongly consider the possibilities that may come in the future. And, be sure to completely consider the opportunity when it presents itself.

Why Marketing Yourself is Important

Even if you think your job has absolutely nothing to do with marketing – you would be incorrect. You marketed yourself to get that job. In fact, each one of us markets ourselves each day—to each other, to your boss, and to potential clients. And, in today’s competitive economy, learning how to market yourself is even more important.

Marketing can occur through one-on-one networking, through reputation, and via others. Networking—meeting people face-to-face—is an important part of marketing yourself. Through these interactions, you can position yourself as an expert in your field.

Your reputation also serves as a marketing tool. Positive impacts you have made in the past will be discussed within business circles and your industry. This can lead to the best form of advertisement in the world: word-of-mouth marketing. If a friend tells you they had a great experience with a hair stylist, you are much more likely to contact that same hair stylist. By providing a great haircut, that hair stylist has created marketing for himself or herself.

Several months ago, I received the following message from a previous co-worker. She overheard the information at her current workplace, a newspaper organization. Her message stated the following:

I heard the following at work today: Heather Rothbauer-Wanish is one of the best-known freelance writers. She’s good at promoting herself.

When I first read her message, I wasn’t sure that the person was actually providing a compliment to me. Then I realized that he was simply saying I know how to market myself. As a freelance writer, I send press releases when I am presenting a seminar or when I have something unique to share. I write for a living, so why shouldn’t I take advantage of that and send my own press releases? And, I still do a lot of in-person networking events, speaking for organizations, and general groundwork for building my business.

Now when I read that message, I believe it means that I understand the importance of building relationships and ensuring businesses/newspapers/other organizations don’t forget that Feather Communications is available for their writing needs. So, take the time to market yourself and don’t be afraid to promote your skills – your future may depend on it.

Junior Achievement and Feather Communications

When I was 16 years old, my first job was working as a bank teller in a bank. At the time, I felt it was important to project professionalism, organizational skills, and attention to detail. This was my first “real job.” And, truth be told, it was one of the best jobs I ever had. The skills I learned at the bank are the same skills I discuss with Feather Communications clients when writing a resume and coaching on interviewing skills.

Not only did I learn to work with people and money, I learned to work as a member of a team. That is one of the best lessons anyone can ever receive from a job. Most importantly, I learned the value of a dollar while working at the bank. I quickly learned that sometime the people you think have a lot of money really have very little. And, just as likely, that person that you thought had little money actually had quite a sum stored in the bank.

Now, I get to continue the lessons I learned while working at the bank. Through various networking events and other marketing, I have been able to increase the exposure for Feather Communications and have met many local business leaders. Because of this networking, I was recently asked to join the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement Northwest District. The mission for Junior Achievement is “Empowering young people to own their economic success.”

Over 19 years later, I have the opportunity of helping to shape Junior Achievement in our area and teaching young people how to develop success skills for the future workplace. While giving back to the community, I am able to teach the lesson that has served me well in life. What a privilege!

Giving Back Comes Full Circle

There are many articles that discuss the importance of ‘giving back’ to the community and volunteering time for worthy causes. Sometimes it is difficult to decide which organization to become involved in; furthermore, it seems like all non-profits are constantly seeking active, productive, and involved members.

Much like others, I try to find an organization that fits my values, works with my schedule, and gives back in a meaningful way. When I was a senior in high school, I was honored as the Menomonie Optimist Club Youth of the Month. What did it mean to me at the time? It meant that I received a free breakfast for myself and my parents. It also meant that I received a beautiful plaque that is still housed in my cedar chest.

While that was over 16 years ago, it stayed with me; albeit, in the back of my mind. Last spring, I was approached by a networking contact to join the Menomonie Optimist Club. In contemplating how this was going to fit into my schedule, I began to think back to that morning when I had received my free breakfast and a wooden plaque. It meant a great deal that a local community organization believed in me as a high school senior. And, now, it means a great deal to me that the organization asked me to become part of it.

Now, as a member of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I see the area youth coming to the meetings each month and celebrating their futures. I think back to my morning at the meeting and realize that giving back has come full circle. Now, I have an opportunity to be on the contributing end of the organization and hope those students remember their mornings well into the future.

As part of the Menomonie Optimist Club, I have taken on the responsibility of the monthly newsletter. This is my area of expertise. And, that is how giving back to the community should work; you should be able to use your talents to give back in a meaningful way. There are meetings I cannot make and activities that I can’t do because of my work schedule. The newsletter – that is something I can do. And, the newsletter is e-mailed to many people beyond the organization, increasing the exposure for Feather Communications.

Giving back does come full circle. The circle may take 16 years (or longer) to complete itself. However, when it does, it will give you a gratifying feeling that cannot be taken away.