7 Ways to Network on a Shoestring Budget

Developing an expansive network on a shoestring budget

It seems everywhere these days we are reminded about the economic recession. Consumers and businesses are cutting costs and spending less. Hunting for a job is often times both costly and exhausting. Hiring a job coach, resume writer, and attending networking conferences can be expensive. Networking now more than ever is an important part of a successful job search whether you are in the job hunt or not. Networking and building meaningful relationships doesn’t have to break the bank. With some creative, frugal thinking you can develop an expansive network on a shoestring budget.

7 Ways to Network on a Shoestring Budget

  • Chamber of Commerce Events. If you can swing your company to cover the cost of an annual Chamber membership, you and anyone at your place of employment can attend these events normally at no charge. Most chambers offer a variety of options to fit your schedule either before or after work hours.
  • Join Your Local ToastMasters. This organization holds weekly meetings and has a number of different chapters to choose from in your local area. You can develop a network while improving your public speaking skills at the same time all for the cost of $45 per 6 months of membership.
  • Children’s Sporting & Social Events. Most parents attend baseball tournaments and dance recitals anyway. Why not make some personal networking connections in the process? Bring a handful of business cards and plan a play date for the kiddos.
  • Online Social Networking. Sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ning Networking Sites, and Feedfriend are all FREE! Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you admire and develop a networking relationship with them. Using these sites has benefited me greatly all with little effort.
  • Volunteering. Don’t have any cash to fork out to attend a costly conference? Give your time to a charity of your choice and build relationships along the way. I regularly provide human resource training to non-profits by way of donation. This allows me to network while partaking in some career development that I can add to my resume.
  • Professional Organizations. These might not be as costly as you might think. I recommend doing some research. For example, the Sooner Society of Human Resource Management (in Norman, OK) charges $25 a year to be a member and even provides HR Certification and Education Credits. Meetings are held once a month and are free. All you have to do is bring your own brown bag lunch to attend. If you are unemployed, consider negotiating with the Professional Organization to continue your membership free of charge. The National SHRM organization does this very thing. Current members can continue their membership while they are off work and have access to the members only website and publications to stay current on industry information.
  • Host Your Own Event. Have a networking event or casual get-together with friends in your home or at a local coffee bar. For example, I am hosting a Twitter Networking Meeting (A.K.A. Tweetup) at the local Panera bread next month. The meeting room costs just $50 while the online event registration website I used (Event Brite) is free of charge. By hosting the event, it is a guarantee that I will network and engage all those that attend developing new and meaningful connections.

To learn more about the upcoming Tweetup in Oklahoma City on February 26, 2008, click below to learn more or email me at jmiller-merrell@sbcglobal.net.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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