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Networking can be challenging for anyone. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and make the best impression possible when your livelihood is on the line. networking can be especially difficult if you live in a small town where resources are scarce, word gets around and connections are difficult to make. For this reason, small-town job seekers must take some extra measures to ensure their networking success.
Use Social Media
Using sites like Linkedin and Twitter can be particularly helpful when you live in a more rural area where businesses and people are spread out. Making connections on these digital platforms is a good way to start your networking efforts and introduce yourself to possible employers. You are going to have to be shrewd about it, though.
Remember that what you publish on your social pages will be seen by potential employers or business partners. If you have unprofessional photos or videos on your pages, now is the time to remove them and replace them with a more professional image. If your account name is something along the lines of a school mascot or something you may have done in college, it is a good idea to simply start fresh and create a new social media account to use. Whenever possible, use your own name instead of a nickname or false moniker.
Don’t Rely On Social Media Alone
In today’s wired world, it can be easy to forget that not everyone is technologically savvy. In a smaller town, odds are that people do not rely on the Internet for socialization as much as they do in a big city. By concentrating solely on social media and the Internet for your job search, you will no doubt be leaving opportunities by the wayside.
Although social media is a great first step to networking, it can’t be your only strategy when you live in a small town. Often small-town businesses and employers aren’t accustomed to popular social and job listing sites, so you will need to also take a face-to-face approach when making new connections in your area.
Talk is Cheap – Positively
Perhaps the most effective, and cost-effective, means of networking in a small town is to talk to absolutely everyone you can and let them know your skills. Tell them that you’re currently looking for work, or looking to advance your career and find new challenges. Don’t be shy about asking for connections to be made on your behalf. People in small towns generally have a desire to help their neighbors in any way they can.
Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Most small towns have a chamber of commerce whose members consist of local businesses. One great way to get out and network is to join and participate in your local Chamber’s events. You will have a community of business people at your disposal and can get to know them over a casual meal and conversation. Even if the people you meet aren’t currently looking to
Become a Flyer on the Wall
If you are a small business owner yourself and looking to drum up some new clients, a great way to do this is to market your services with flyers. Old fashioned? Sure. Effective in a small town? Absolutely. Many small towns will allow you to hang flyers outside of public buildings such as libraries, municipal buildings, and busy storefronts. Make sure to keep the message on your flyer succinct and have tear-off tabs with your contact information.
Free Services Attract New Clients
Making a name for yourself or your business in a small town can be difficult. Many communities may not initially see the value of your service or completely understand what it is you do. A great way around this glitch is to provide some service to the community for free as a way of showing that what you offer has value. By doing so you are not only showing your desire to be a part of the community but that you have skills that can help the community thrive.
Do Your Thinking Outside of That Box
When you’re trying to network in a large metro area, you can have success with a paint-by-numbers type of approach. In contrast, in a small town, you really need to get creative and strategize a bit differently. For instance, if you’re seeking work as a mechanic, the obvious thing to do would be to go around to every garage in your area and inquire about a position. Since there may only be a handful of garages in a smaller town, you could also go to the local schools that have busses and other county vehicles to be maintained. You could offer your services at the local hospital and senior centers whose ambulances and shuttle vans need almost constant upkeep. By thinking outside the box, you can give yourself more opportunities to land a new job.
Finding a job in a small town doesn’t have to be a daunting task, it really only requires a new way of thinking and approaching the task at hand. By using the tips above and demonstrating a little creativity, your job search can not only be an exciting learning experience, but you’ll be able to firmly establish yourself in the community as well, which can generate employment opportunities for a lifetime.