by Lisa McGrimmon
Here's a job search technique you might not have considered: career networking at trade shows.
Trade shows can be an absolutely fantastic place to network, and seeking out job leads and business contacts at trade shows is a very effective strategy.
If you are looking for work in a specific industry, and a related trade show is scheduled, it can be well worth the effort to attend. Where else will you find everyone in one industry all under one roof and ready and willing to talk to you? Few job seekers take the time to network at trade shows, so there will be little, if any, competition from other job seekers at this type of event.
Keep in mind, you may or may not meet someone who has the authority to hire you at a trade show. Even if the people you meet do not have the authority to make hiring decisions, they will have the inside track in that particular industry, and they may be able to provide you with good job leads.
Some trade shows are free to attend, other cost money. So, if you need to pay an entry fee to attend a trade show, it will be important to weigh the cost of attending the show with the benefit you feel you will get from attending the show.
Typically trade shows are less busy early in the day, and that's when the people staffing the booths are at their best and most open to speak with you. It's important to avoid trade shows at busy times when staff are busy speaking with customers, so, you'd be wise to attend trade shows for networking as early in the day as possible.
It's smart to come prepared with a few resumes when you are networking at a trade show. In the course of your conversations with people at the show you may feel comfortable providing them with a resume. More often, it will feel more appropriate to provide a business card, so be sure to come prepared with plenty of personal business cards.
To find out about upcoming trade shows, check your local newspaper on a regular basis, visit the websites belonging to local convention centers to see what events are scheduled, and if you're targeting a specific industry, check with the professional association connected with that industry to see what events are planned.
Networking at trade shows is really an effective but under-used job search technique. Over the years I've seen plenty of clients find great job leads and land great jobs by using this strategy to find unadvertised jobs.