Pay it Forward

DFN: I’m a big believer in the ‘best’ way of finding a new job is by helping other people. One of the ‘tricks’ is that you have to be sincere in your volunteerism, ie, you’re volunteering to do something that you love to do. If this isn’t true, PIF will not work. I’m passionate about helping other people find work. I know that I’ll benefit from these efforts, and while its hard for an Accounting and Finance geek to take this approach (no proof it will work), I stay on the path, nonetheless. I do know that my involvement in networking is the ONLY reason I’ve gotten my last two jobs, so, I guess this is some sort of proof, but, it does at least initially take a leap of faith to pursue this path.

Helping job seekers by ‘paying it forward’Comment on this E-mail a friend ShareThis
November 14, 2009
By Randy Woods

The more I immerse myself in the job-search world, the more I start believing in karma, or at least the kind of nonreligious, Western style of cause-and-effect karma. Treat other people with compassion and respect and, chances are, good things will happen to you–often when you least expect it.

This kind of pop-culture "My Name is Earl" karmic philosophy is the basis for most networking events. You get out into the market, make friends, offer support where you can and then hope some of that good will eventually bounce back to you with a job offer.

Yet, in light of the recession and high unemployment rate, networking events have too often become stressful affairs, says Sandy Jones-Kaminski, a business development specialist and networking expert. "You tend to see a lot of bad, rude behavior," she says. "People may talk to you, but they keep looking around for the next title on nametags. It makes you think, ‘I’m boring,’ so you feel uncomfortable. That’s why many people don’t like networking."

Determined to do something about it, Jones-Kaminski and her consulting firm Bella Domain came up with a new approach to networking, called Pay It Forward Parties, or "PIF Parties," for short. Rather than going to a networking meeting looking to make connections for themselves, the attendees at a PIF Party have one objective: to offer whatever help they can to whoever asks for it.

The idea, Jones-Kaminski says, was to make sure that people were approaching others without agendas or ulterior motives. "You might not get help yourself, but that’s not the point," she says. "About 80 percent of the attendees I talked with said they got some kind of help. But the point is to connect with others on some level. You don’t need it all coming back to you."

From the first PIF Party in November 2007, the events were not necessarily job-search functions. They were mostly a place were people could simply pay kindness forward to others in any way they could, be it referrals, advice, mentorship–even a date or two between single attendees. While only half of the attendees were looking for work, she estimates, some were able to find new jobs or business opportunities.

"You get offered a job from people who are trusting of you," she says. "There’s a hidden job market out there, but you have to be willing to be open and giving to be part of it."

The last PIF Party Jones-Kaminski hosted through Bella Domain was in November 2008, after which she pursued a few other business ventures. This coming week, however, the PIF Party is being resurrected by the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Marketing Association. On Thursday, Nov. 19, PSAMA will hold a PIF Party, called "Thankful for Your Network," at the Local Vine restaurant in Belltown from 6 to 9 p.m. The admission fee will be $10, but PSAMA members can get in for free.

Jones-Kaminski will also be there as co-host of the event, and will speak about her new book, "I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???" about navigating the difficult networking scene. She says she hopes these new versions of PIF Parties will continue "sort of every other month" if all goes well, but she doesn’t want to be the focus of every event. "I’m always encouraging others to host their own PIF Parties," she says. "Even if you have a job, this is the kind of activity people should be doing all the time."

Writer and editor Randy Woods has filled out more job applications than he can count — so you don’t have to. Email him at hireground.


One Response

  1. Great to find a kindred spirit Doug! Thanks for re-posting this, and my book, “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???” is currently available on Amazon. Thanks again! Sandy

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