Tag Archives: career networking

Chili Cook Off and Networking

Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo
Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo

Research is clear, when it comes to professional progression, networking is the key. Over the past weekend, I happened to be in the middle of a well-kept networking secret: can you say Chili Cook Off?

Participants and cookers mingled for hours at one of the most relaxed environments thought possible. Though our team were part of the cookers, Tropical Air of Central Florida and Baby Mo’s Chili, connections made were priceless. For those lacking networking expertise, a Chili Cook Off offers an ideal stage to rehearse and expand those in your circle while becoming comfortable and confident around others.

With chili in hand, striking up a conversation never has been easier. I hear you, the topic of employment rarely comes up while dipping chili, but establishing networks can be as natural as fiber and peanut butter.

For tasters, simply venture table to table, complimenting along the way while learning about the companies behind the chili. To what seem as a surprise for many (not to me), I noticed over 20 local and regional businesses behind the chili. Some would call this an opportunity as one taster approaches:

Taster: “Baby Mo’s Chili? Where’s the chef?”
Server: “The young one with the gloves. She’s the master behind the chili.”
Taster: “Awesome chili. She got it right and I’ll be voting for you!”
Server: “Thanks, do appreciate it. Not only do we make great chili, we take care of air conditioning and heating needs throughout Central Florida.”
Taster: “I like the logo and no doubt keeping people cool in Florida is always a challenge. Are you a technician?”
Server: “Actually I own the company.”
Taster: “I like how Tropical Air of Central Florida is taking part in the community and would love to be part of a company like this.”
Server: “We enjoy keeping people cool and serving chili. What are you looking to do?”
Taster: “I’ve worked as an office administrator over the past two years. Now going to Seminole State. I really want to work with a small company, learning all I can and growing with the company.”
Server: “We’re always looking for positive people, grab my card and give me a call in a few days. We may be hiring part time office help next month.”
Taster: “Definitely will give you a call. And I really mean it, this chili rocks.”
Server: “Don’t forget to vote, last year we were two votes shy of placing.”

Networking can happen anywhere… the only limitations to networking are the limits YOU place on it. 

One never knows who will be walking around as well. During chili cook offs, special judges are often called in to assist, another networking advantage. During the “Apopka Old Florida Outdoor Festival Chili Cook-Off,” one of the judges happened to be Senator Alan Hays. For those interested in politics, business, and community opportunities, this was your chance to connect.

Not just for the votes, but I encourage you to attend the Orlando Chili Cook-Off March 7th. Baby Mo will be cooking the chili and I’ll be serving… hope to see you taking advantage of this networking opportunity.

Seeking awesome chili, employment, promotion, or career transitioning support, self-help job development books and resources, including material designed for those transitioning out of prison, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

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Friend of a Friend

DSC_0130So you are on the hunt for a job and you have all the basics to land an interview, but you aren’t getting many responses.  Submitting resumes and applying on large job sites can be discouraging and make you feel like you are falling into the cracks of a very large database.  After scratching your head, you begin brainstorming as to what else you can do to have that extra push to land an interview.  The answer is simple: ask for job referrals.

Common sense and statistics make one thing clear: companies are hiring based on employee referrals and will typically give a person with a referral more of a chance to land an interview.  According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, applicants are twice as likely to get interviews and 40 percent more likely to get hired if they have a referral.  But how do you get these great referrals?

Career Success Tip of the Day:  Networking is the way to go.

Social Media

Social media is at an all-time high and if you want to land a dream job, networking is a crucial building block to obtain referrals.  Sites such as LinkedIn, CareerCloud, and even Facebook and Twitter can be effective ways to network and gain contacts.  The best thing about social media networking is that you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to find your way into the company.

In Person Networking

There is no better way to network than in person.  People remember faces and have a harder time saying no when they are face to face.  It can be as simple as running into a former coworker at the grocery store or making a new connection while watching your son’s football game.  The secret to in person networking is to be sociable.  Truth is, people refer people that they like.

Then What?

So you used your resources and found out that you have connections into companies you would like to work for.  How do you ask?  Well, unless it is someone who knows you well, it is best to ask if they feel they know your work enough to refer you.  If they don’t, but still would like to refer you, give them a copy of your resume.  That way they are knowledgeable of your qualifications and work experience.  They can then provide you with a referral letter or a contact within the company’s Human Resource department.

Just Remember…

More and more companies actively take advantage of referral programs. Employees are also taking advantage of referral program rewards and would be enthused to meet a “great match” for the position.

When searching for your dream career, take advantage of all the resources out there to assist with obtaining a referral and make sure you act professionally in public.  You never know, the person waiting in the checkout line next to you could be your next business contact.

Looking forward to our next career meeting, I am.

Mari Brooks
Your CC Connection