It’s not what you know it’s who you know, right? Not exactly, but it helps to know people that can point you in the right direction in your career.

The thought of traditional networking makes me ill. The idea that I have to “press the flesh” and make small talk isn’t my thing. But you might be different when it comes to networking and really enjoy it. Not me.

If you’re like me and haven’t developed an appetite for networking, here’s the problem. It works! Networking is a very effective job search tool and it also has the ability to speed up your job search. Again, as much as I hate to admit it, networking works! So if you haven’t developed the appetite for networking, I have some ideas for you.

The first thing you need to guard against is networking with negative people. The last thing you need is to sit around and complain about the economy and the job market all day. So find positive people to discuss your current job situation, those are the people that are successful and can help you and want to help you, not the negative types.

Networking is just having conversations with people that can help you with your job search. Use your business and personal contacts for exploring opportunities. For instance, don’t overlook your banker. Bankers are very connected and typically know what’s going on in the community.

Another good place is your local Chamber of Commerce. Typically the people that work at the Chamber of Commerce have an understanding of the businesses in the area. They will know which companies are coming to town and which companies are growing and currently hiring.

You can always network in the normal places like conventions and trade shows, alumni associations, job fairs, professional organizations, family and friends, self-help organizations, non-profit organizations, and any other clubs you might belong to. These organizations and individuals can help you, but you have to open up in your conversations and let them know about your job situation.

Another good networking source are HR Departments of some of your past employers. These people understand the market and your industry. In my experience they typically have a lot of contacts and belong to several industry associations. Basically, they know a lot of people. If you left on good terms they will be happy to help you. Try it.

Networking is often overlooked during your job search. It shouldn’t be, because it works. So, connect with positive friends, neighbors, relatives, and different associations within your community and have conversations about your job situation. Let these people know you need some help. These people will help you. Who you know does make a difference. I hope this helps.

Good luck to you!

Mike Palumbo