"It is not enough to be industrious. So are the ants. The question is: What are we industrious about?"
   — Henry David Thoreau

How to Get the Most out of MPN Meetings

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Keep venting to a minimum. People come to MPN meeting to help them move into something better, not re-visit past frustrations.

Be generous, and be helpful. If done right, networking is not a zero-sum game. The chances are that no one in the room with you will be interested in any one position you are pursuing. There is no cost to you in helping others do their best in getting the jobs they want.

Share contacts. Make sure you bring your Palm Pilot, Daytimer, Franklin Planner, Rolodex, or whatever you keep your contact information in. You will need this to be able to immediately tell fellow members the contacts you know that will help them.

Pay attention to the companies that other participants have worked at or are looking at. They may know someone who can help you with your search.

Write down who is in the room, where they have worked, where they are looking to work, and the names of anyone they mention that they have worked with in the past. Even if those pieces of information don’t seem relevant at the time, in a few days you may be able to make use of them.

Sharing leads. If you provide someone with a lead, make sure you tell them whether they can use your name when they contact them. Also be sure to describe your relationship with the contact person. You may want to contact that person as well, to let them know that they may be hearing from a fellow MPN’er.

Follow up. If someone gives you a lead or contact, follow up on that information QUICKLY. That person may be waiting for you to call or e-mail.

Close the loop. After you have contacted a lead, make sure you let the person who gave it to you know you’ve acted on it, and let them know what the status of the discussion is. If you have future discussions, keep them informed.

Be polite, but be honest. If someone suggests a type of position or company you really aren’t interested in tell them. That way the discussion can be focused on what you really want to do, and the organization you really want to work with.

Don’t take criticism personally. If someone suggests a way to improve your speech, or the way you describe yourself, they are not criticizing you. Be sure to understand that there is a great deal of accumulated wisdom in the room when it comes to job hunting techniques. Don’t dismiss a suggestion without considering how well it might work for you.

Be open to new ideas. Don’t dismiss leads out of hand because you have never considered the industry or company before. That new job might be in an area you’ve heard of.

Be optimistic. You will find the job you’re looking for.