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Network while you work

Two pieces of job hunting advice are shared routinely:

*It's easier to land a new job when you're employed than unemployed.

*Networking is the best way to get a new job offer.

So you want to look while you're working -- but how do you network effectively when your time is monopolized by your current job?

What if you can't take a long lunch break to attend a professional association meeting?

What if you don't have access to a computer all day to make contact with others on LinkedIn or Facebook?

Clearly, it's not easy for some workers to make themselves known outside their current workplaces. But consider:

*Can you find professional or fraternal associations or chamber events that meet when you're not at work?

There are arrays of breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings scheduled around any metro area. Learn what organizations are relevant to your job goals and go to ones that dovetail with your availability.

*Can you spend computer time at home or the nearest library?

Online networking works 2 4/7 . In fact, you can probably do a better job burnishing your Web presence if you're not worried about the boss looking over your shoulder.

*Can you reconnect with past allegiances or associates?

Even if you left school 30 years ago, don't discount the bonds with your class, dorm, fraternity, sorority or teammates.

*Can you guide casual conversations toward your employment interests?

You don't want your friends and neighbors to hide when they see you, but you can use passing moments on the sidewalk, in the bleachers, outside church or in the grocery aisle to let people know that you're looking for a new opportunity.

*Can you take a class at your area community college that meets when you don't have to work and that will add to your work credentials?

That's a great way to meet new people and use the college career office's resources.

Yes, all these ideas take time and most cost money, but that's the trade-off: What are you willing to sacrifice in pursuit of change?