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In tough times, it’s not just if you network – it’s how

Robin Hamilton

As Marilyn Edelson sees it, networking is an art, not just a science.

During a recent Boston Women Communicators symposium, Edelson, a career coach and consultant, emphasized that when it comes to the job hunt, every action creates a reaction.

“Before you leave your house, have an intention,” she explained. “Once you focus, it is the power of attraction.”

Edelson said that with the current state of the recession, people already know networking is a necessity. However, she believes that people who do it correctly separate themselves from those who remain unemployed.

“The way to stay in the game is to keep in action,” she said. “Even if what we’re doing isn’t immediately getting us the job we want.”

The former social worker turned career strategist said she learned these secrets after starting her own business more than 20 years ago. When she became a single mother of two, she said it was imperative to make a name — and a living — for herself and her family.

“I had to learn how to network for my own survival,” she said. “The only way I could expand my reach was to connect with people and make those forward-moving connections.”

How did she keep moving forward? “I took 10 people out to lunch,” she said with a laugh, quickly noting that it was usually at inexpensive places like Chinese restaurants where she could get the most for her money.

Rarely were those lunches actual interviews for job openings, but they still served an important purpose, Edelson said.

“I encourage people to do more informational networking,” she said. “It’s never a dead end, even if [employers] don’t have something for you immediately.”

Edelson stressed that constantly talking to people is the best way to stay in the game.

“When people dead-end, it’s the morale issue, and they’ve given up,” she said.

To stave off surrender, Edelson asks jobseekers to think in terms of threes. “Do three things a day,” she said. “Each thing can lead to three more things.”

According to her, momentum is the name of the game. But what happens if you’re in an industry where there is nowhere to go? During the recent women’s symposium, Edelson spoke to a group of women who specialize in media and communications — a rapidly shrinking field.

“Think about industries that are more recession-proof,” she said. “As communication industries are laying off, look at health care. Hospitals need newsletters written.”

She also suggested considering emerging technologies, or pursuing a certificate in something else that compliments skills one may already have.

Edelson also isn’t shy about saying that desperation is never a good attitude. She insists that approaching a potential employer with your talents, instead of from a place of want, makes all the difference.

“When you come to things with a need, we back off,” she said, adding that the “Do you have a job for me?” approach is never the way to go.

“We’re more drawn to people who have something to offer,” she said.

She suggests that jobseekers introduce themselves as people who possess certain talents that could be an asset to a team. One way to help cultivate that impression is to carry business cards.

“If you are unemployed, you still have a profession,” she said. “Put down your name, and what you do and your contact information. Consider it your ‘your professional card.’”

A card that can help get you employed again, if you have the right attitude.