In the early 1980s, I completed Technical Training school and began my military career as a purchasing agent. The tools of my new trade were the yellow pages, a desk phone and an 80 column coding sheet. My workload was a never-ending stack of purchase requests that filled my inbox.
I quickly learned there was a well-established history with a small number of preferred vendors. If leveraged correctly, they could help me meet my performance goals and empty my inbox – even if temporarily – and I could generate some regular business for them. Win-win!
As my responsibilities increased, I needed my network to grow along with me. This was when the hard work not covered in tech school began.
It wasn’t easy making cold calls to the potential vendors I found in the yellow pages. But as I worked to hone my message and learned new business practices, I was able to establish new relationships that were built on trust, credibility, and mutual benefit.
I wish I could say the stack of purchase requests stopped growing. But the larger network certainly helped me keep it in check.
Fast forwarding to present day, Career Centers face a very similar challenge, but from a different vue. For those who serve in OneStop Career Centers across the nation, the time is now to cultivate new relationships and building a bigger network. The number of job seekers and businesses that need your help has grown, but has the pool of businesses you regularly work with also grown to meet the demand?
Thankfully, we’ve moved beyond the yellow pages. Today’s robust data and research tools can help you identify and connect with a higher number of healthy, growing companies, giving you a complete picture of your local business community, especially those companies that are currently off your radar.
If built well and for the long haul, a broad business network will provide expanded, quality career opportunities for job seekers. At the same time, you will be able to help more businesses meet their needs for a skilled workforce, and contribute to the success of your organization’s performance goals. A win-win-win if I’ve ever seen one.
So ask yourself, “Who is in my current network?” More importantly, ask “Who should be? And how will I find them?”