034 Starting a Job Seekers Networking Support Group

Attending a networking support group isn’t always convenient or meeting your needs. Scott and Andrew discuss the finer points on creating your own group.

Listen to the podcast that makes a different in your career acceleration by establishing your own job club.

Don’t miss these Topics:

  • Overcoming thoughts of inadequacy
  • Finding the right location
  • Time investments and scheduling
  • Group member identification and personality
  • Structure, format, agenda, and expectations
  • Being an effective meeting moderator
  • Recruiting leadership and assigning meeting tasks to others
  • Foster an environment that is similar to your personality 
  • Promotion and advertising made easy
  • Qualities of successful groups

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00:00:00 – 00:05:06

Hey world. It’s Andrew in this episode of job seekers radio. We give you some pointers. Some tips on how to start manage and promote your own job seekers support group. Welcome to job seekers radio. I’m Andrew, and I’m Scott, this is a podcast dedicated to providing you meaningful support to find great careers faster. Whether you’re working or not we are coming to you from the city of Portland that is a city of roses today on job seekers radio were talking about how to create your own job seekers group. Right. We know that there are going to be some of our audience members who don’t have access to a job group or they don’t have. They don’t know of one they’ve done their search. They’ve talked to different people. And there just isn’t one in your area. We want to encourage people to start their own. They shouldn’t feel as if there is no one out there that can help them there is because there’s always going to be others who are also looking for work. It’s simply getting in touch with them, creating your own actually gives you a sense of purpose and. A bit of control when you have choices and how to set it up. How often to have it where we’re gonna talk about an a minute. This gives you that sense of freedom. Freedom choice implies freedom. John Whitmore who wrote coaching for performance talks about this. As you provide yourself or others choices in what they can do. It gives them a sense of empowerment, and that means they are free to make the choice or not. So in doing this. You’re actually creating your own access to the help you need by reaching out to people who are in a similar situation. I think of a lot of the groups that we’ve participated in over the years and a lot of those really they were organic in their creation and somebody was out of work or looking for work, and they met somebody else who was out of work and looking for work and said, hey, let’s get together and make it might have been something very simple as just two people. Meeting for coffee once a week, right? We’ve talked in the past about the beer’s network here in Portland. It was a small group of executives who were all found themselves on employed at the same time who were getting together for a beer once a week or once every other week, just to socialize. And they thought why not make this into a group for those like us? So that’s how that group started. It really is that easy. Don’t over think. It don’t think it’s gotta be the some perfect group where everything’s gotta be an order. We are going to give you some guidelines some things here from our experience that it actually helped us build a group that is successful. We wanted to start with logistics. You know, how do you set it up? And where do you have it in all rat? What are your thoughts on that? Well, I think it’s really important to do a works for you. If there isn’t a group out there that that is available or accessible, then as you create one do what works for you select the days times locations that worked for your schedule. If you have a young family, for example, and you can’t be too far from home. They’re usually places where you can meet coffee shops are all often a great way to start that some of them even have small meeting rooms or you know, side corners, where if you talk to the manager they’re often willing to let you set up a little bit of space to to have these regular meetings as long as it’s not ten people. But then you can get started. There we have landed in the the local shopping mall. It’s indoors they have cafe tables. It’s open to the public from early in the morning for mall walkers. This is another thing that you can do as long as you’re not breaking any rules. And the the space is public and available find it be creative. But do what works for you? We’ll just draw a circle around your house. Maybe you know, one or two miles from your home and say, okay, there’s probably a library there. I’ve. Seen these groups at a library. I’ve seen them. I we held it at my real estate office when I’ve selling real estate it could have been at a title company or a mortgage, right knee, or a what’s another place that no it could be one of a number of places when they have a meeting room if it’s going to be at a time, for example, when it was in your offices. We met before the office actually opened you would be there to open up the door. So we could get in, but they weren’t going to be using that conference room. So reach out to your friends or or acquaintances who have access to these kinds of meeting rooms, see if you can work something out one of the things once you’ve chosen a place that you wanna make sure you do is that you have a regular rhythm that you have the meeting every so often. So if it’s like ours, you want we put it together every other week, and we make sure it’s every other week.

00:05:06 – 00:10:02

So that people can start to count on that if they haven’t been there too. Experience our networking group. They want to know where it is. So that they can come by check it out. See if it works. And if they don’t know anybody making it hard to find is going to keep the numbers down. We want to consider how accessible that is to everyone. And if they know wind defined you as well as where it’s going to make it easier to grow that group that brings up time, and I know one of the things when I was moderating breakfast club for the at the first it started at eight o’clock, and it went for two hours and didn’t get over till ten and it made me a little jittery because I was building a real estate business and that was productive hours. Right. I ended up moving it to seven thirty and saying this is over in an hour and a half. Right. And the reason I did that is it was personal right? I was being selfish. If you wanna call it that. But I was what ended up happening in one of the side effects of that was it actually. Eliminated a bunch of people that were just using it as a diversion or a time-waster. Okay. Sure. Whatever and it helped give them back the day. So that they could go network or. Exactly. And and still they felt like there half their day was not wasted to exactly some of the groups that I’ve been in the past when they hold them in like mid afternoon. We would have people not show up to those because they had interviews. Well, by all means go to the interview, if if you have to make a choice between the job club and an interview I would air towards the interview one hundred percent because if that’s going to lead you to your next dream job. It would be a crime to prioritize a networking group over that. But with that said when you create your own make it at a time when it’s less likely to dig into people’s schedules when their interviews or going to happen, and that’s going to differ on where you are the job. You’re looking for in what industry all of those variables play part? But you want to make sure that you’re making this amenable to as many people as possible. In both directions. The can also as we do invite people who may be hiring managers. We have a couple of friends one is he he has a real estate business and other one has a financial planning business and other one is an HR manager, and they come periodically to give advice to give the lay of the land from their perspective. And it’s always interesting to the job seekers that are attending. Sometimes these things don’t really have to be in person. Although there is benefit to that. So some of our listeners may be or in a remote space or they don’t have access to other people locally. It’s not out of bounds to think. Hey, why don’t we just meet on Google hangout or shore, a zoom or whatever they call it nowadays. And for those who don’t like to leave home. This is perfect. Actually, if you’re the introvert, and you just you want a home base job in you. You just don’t want to leave the house, that’s understandable. While we are going to incur. Urge you to get out there and meet people in person by creating a job group that is web based that can reach all those other people who prefer that web based environment as well. So you’re not necessarily wasting your time. Exactly. So that brings us to in agenda, and this is something that I’ve seen used differently in different groups. And so this might be a determining factor for how you put together yours is if you’re starting a group go visit a bunch of different groups and see what you like about each one. And maybe if there isn’t any I guess you’d be creating one, but that’s a good way to go and find what works, and what doesn’t for you is by visiting these other groups, right? And if you need advice on on putting this together, I would recommend looking for job seekers groups in other communities say for instance, if you’re in a rural area outside of of metropolitan area will just say Seattle, you can actually find job seekers groups in Seattle and. To see if you can contact them to get advice on how to set one up in your area again, whether or not there’s a an agenda every group does a little bit differently. I will say for an effective meeting in the job, a written agenda is generally preferred it gives you an idea of what you’re going to be talking about and how to stay on task. That’s not going to be true in a group like this necessarily. However, if the kind of work, you’re looking for is one is the type that uses agendas by all means replicate your business environment in this to a certain degree while being open to others to join.

00:10:02 – 00:15:07

It gives them the sense that this is business oriented job group. And that really helps everybody involved it gives each participant. Maybe a job to do. And so by having an agenda, you might have a certain amount of time allotted for each person while you could have timekeeper that gives somebody value who likes to keep time. Great play. You can have somebody taking notes or scribe. And so you give that person something to do and the more refined. You have I think this process. The better results you’re going to have for everybody. Sure. And it doesn’t all rely on you, you can get other people helping as they start to attend. You have a system put together it can run on its own. And so that’s the whole point of maybe standing up one of these groups is get it to a point where it can run it self right without your inter- intervention. Always come back to what works for you. Because the chances are good that that is going to work for other people as well. And every group is different. It’s going to have its own brand. It’s going to have its own look and feel if you will. So again, if you’re starting out with what works for you with the idea that you’re not the only one who’s going to appreciate that it’s going to be able to build organically. But you’re also going to need to have some kind of focus so for example with ours. The breakfast club we had into. Mix and accountability piece. And it’s not that we are going to hold. Our our attendees accountable. They’re holding themselves accountable, and we simply facilitate that that’s one of the differentiator for hours find the differentiator for you and focus on that. Whether it’s industry related, whether it’s community related, whatever that looks like some of these groups actually have an educational component. So they may bring in a guest speaker, or if it’s done by career coach, they might have a career coach give a session on interviewing or or networking or doing a resume or any or any of those things look at the agenda and make it easy on yourself. Really? Right. Trying to fill in agenda with the guest speaker every week or every other week is going to be a challenge that that may not work every time. But if you can get it to work once a month once every other month, whatever that might be it makes things interesting and people will want to keep coming. Yeah. So I was mentioning before breakfast club. And how it had? I’ve kinda gotten off the rails that the meetings were taking two hours. Plus, we were having thirty forty people in the room, and it was just getting unmanageable. And that’s when I actually in introduced the idea of accountability the same people keep showing up to the meeting. They’re not progressing. They’re not changing their right? They’re not really doing anything except show up to the meeting which is good, which is good. It’s good to a point. It’s something. Yeah. It’s something. I get. It was frustrating for me, though, is a moderator to see people coming back. And so I I made a New Year’s resolution then say I was going to be the last guy sitting at the table, and it backfired on me because as soon as I instituted accountability into the group. More people started showing up right? Why do you think that is? Well, it’s because it’s helping people to take the next step without it being a danger zone. I know some people are afraid of being called out if they haven’t done something we’d make such a point of letting people know, we are not. Judging we are here to help. And that’s all we’re here for but you’re making a promise to yourself. Now, you will get a job as fast as you put the effort into it. If we can help increase that effort without it being overwhelming, then we’re doing our job. So there’s a couple of components in breakfast club that will share with you. I think helped makes it effective each person is given a certain allotted mounted time to speak, and it gives them an opportunity to share a branding message. I think that’s really important that if you’re out networking, and you’re trying to position yourself in the marketplace for a certain job opportunity that having a branding message is really critical to your success. Right. And if you don’t know what that looks like do a Google search believe me, there’s plenty of information online that can help you put something together. Now, that’s not going to be a situation where you write it out. And suddenly, it’s brilliant of oil, I suppose as possible, but that doesn’t happen. Very often. Usually Hugh refined this over time you find what works. What doesn’t and and this is great. But in that. You find your purposes? Well, and if you’re creating your own job group, this is critical to the differentiation and getting people interested to come get out there find with that brand statement looks like both in terms of the job you’re looking for and your own job search as well as the group, and also if you do create the group don’t be afraid that you’re not going to be let it go. If you get the job, you will be the idea is get more people involved who can help you lead it, and then you can come back to it as time permits we also after branding statement. We really wanted to have an idea of you know, what what maybe job titles or companies that people are targeting so we can help facilitate that introduction process.

00:15:08 – 00:20:05

So if you deliver branding message, and you share some target companies people are more than happy, or or at least enticed to make an introduction for you to people inside their network, right? Which might be the whole purpose of this thing in the first place and setting. -tations for example, on time that’s going to be dependent upon how many people show up. So if you’ve set aside an hour and a half and one person shows up that person gets an hour and a half, right? But with that said, you can help guide these conversations, and if brainstorming is really going to be what helps your group the most then set aside the time for brainstorming where people get just get to spend their first three minutes just throwing ideas out there and make it a fun experience. People want to come back if it’s fun. I also think people are looking for feedback because in the marketplace, if you’re doing applicastions and resumes, and you know, you’re not hearing anything you’re not getting feedback. And so people don’t know. So the grew right should be a place where people can come share their messaging or Syrah share their stuff and get solid feedback from somebody that’s objective and maybe outside of their circle of friends. The only caveat that I would give or word of wisdom. If you’re putting your own group together, you will undoubtedly. Have someone come to your group who is rambler? They just talk and talk and talk and while there’s a place for that. And I don’t mean that to sound like they shouldn’t come they. They’re welcome. But there are times when you’re going to have to help them get to the point or to wrap it up to allow other people to talk. If you set that ground rule in the beginning stopping them from rambling won’t feel like such a shock or an interruption. They’ll know that this is part of the rules, and that they should expect some kind of help in wrapping it up. So that that’s one thing as a moderator you’ll want to be prepared for. Fortunately, I can tell you. It doesn’t happen often. Most of the time it’s manageable. Scotty done talking. Yes. Okay. Because you are one of those I have. So do you think? You have to have a strong moderator to get Scott. You know, kind of corralled in maybe. Yeah. That’s the branding piece of it in and the process in some ideas or thoughts around in agenda or focus the you might consider for your group. The next step maybe promoting it is getting the word out that it’s available and you want people to come it. This is one of the most daunting parts of creating group. And I’m here to tell you it is not as difficult as it sounds. We often don’t like to promote ourselves for a number of reasons I won’t bother going into because we’ve talked about those in prior podcasts, but it’s a little intimidating to start out. So think about where you spend your time. If you’re on Facebook, you can create a page on Facebook for your group and start promoting it among your friends. We’ve talked about event bright it’s a fantastic resource to put your group out there. It’s free of charge. And I’m surprised at how popular it? Has become people actually use it. So I highly recommend event. Bright to to forward information about your group breakfast club, actually gets one or two registrations. Every week. It’s not it’s working for us. And we get people coming because of it right at her in the community. So we’re I know that people are looking at it and similar to meet up, which is another one different areas will use these differently. So for example, in southern California, meet up is more social than it is business networking meet up has a number of business networking groups hair in the Pacific northwest Facebook generally runs the gamut. I don’t know about event bright if it’s popular in other parts of the country. But it’s definitely a good place to work to look. And then of course, there’s Lincoln highly recommended because that is a business networking website, use the resources that they have available many of them are free, and you may even want to promote it to career coaches. And all these people that you’re reaching out to actually to create the group might also be good people to promote the group to their networks excellence. So not not a bad idea to send people messages through Lincoln to help them understand what your group is and how to promote it, and you know, maybe even inviting people to come and not only that. But if you’re talking to the placement companies or a temporary agencies have ’bout this. And and would they mention it they if they aren’t doing it that may give them the idea to start one, and that sort of takes the pressure off you it’s great good idea. We’re gonna share now maybe some ideas or thoughts about keys to successful groups, or how how this group can survive for longevity purposes, or maybe I shouldn’t say survive, but that was been my experience when you lose a leader or a moderator or somebody.

00:20:05 – 00:23:22

That’s a strong force inside of a particular group that group tends to falter Schorr. And ultimately, it’s okay because there will always be an. Opportunity to bring it back. If there’s a need the one thing I’ll say as advice to a potential moderator is to be authentic make this group your group. You don’t want to try to be somebody or not because that that lack of authenticity won’t allow the trust to build. So as you are leading this group, the authentic with what’s important to you. What your priorities are how you want this meeting to go and allow the input to come. But if someone is coming in and challenging that. You know, I I would say B B firm be your leader. Either leader you want to to have in one characteristic of all good leaders is their ability to listen. Absolutely. And as you’re starting out, you may want to listen to what the group needs might be and see if you can’t Commodore that absolutely by doing. So you may end up getting more people coming because you do good by one person they may refer or recommend someone. Else come as well coming back to the idea not every group fits every individual as you’re listening. Listen for the things that one you can do better to that may augment or complement what you’re already doing look for ways to involve them. So it’s not just listening to their words you actually want to implement as much as you can without losing your own identity. And you know, you may want to pick up a partner. Right. Great idea, we co moderate the breakfast club. And so having some sort of partner somebody that maybe shows up, and hey, maybe there’s only three of you while recruit one of those people to help you moderate the group if you end up going on vacation, absolute or unin interview, or what have you? There’s always something that might come up that would lead you to position of needing another person to help you out. Right. And if you’re already assigning different duties within the groups, whether it’s a time keeper or the the person taking the notes, these are often people who would then step up and actually help moderate if you could. Could be there. Well, thank you for joining us for this episode of job seekers radio. We have shown notes and resources available at job seekers radio dot com forward slash zero three four. Thanks everybody for joining us. We we appreciate your investment of time and attention and head over to itunes and subscribe to get future episodes while you’re there, would you please provide us a rate and review. We wanna thank those who have already done that. Because we’re actually showing now on the eighteen store as a rated podcast. So we thank you so much in advance for going there and helping us spread the message, right and leave us feedback. So that we can continue to improve this. If there are topics you’d like us to discuss we’ve done that before where we’ve had requests people want to know more of about our opinions on different topics. So please give us some feedback. Let us know what is working for you. What is not working for you? Let us help you. But we’ve got to hear from you. I this is Andrew, and I’m Scott until next time take a chance get out there and start a group have some fun too.

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