One issue that plagues most Professional Service Groups (PSGs) is the fact that their existence depends on a critical mass of people who are committed to the group and willing to do the work. When that critical mass is absent, PSGs fall into inactivity.
In this respect, the PSG of Mercer County is no different: its current incarnation came about through the hard work of several people, ultimately yielding that critical mass in September 2008. I first learned about PSG from a networking and support group that meets in Princeton called JobSeekers, the longest continuously-operating such group in the region. Several of those key people are members of JobSeekers and spoke of getting PSG up and running again. The idea was win/win: it would be a great way both to exercise my professional skills and to network with the people involved.
And that’s precisely what’s happened. People talk about tactics we can deploy in job search: networking, job boards, support groups, job search buddies, some people are still talking about newspapers…there’s a number of tactics, all with implementations that will work optimally for us. But PSG isn’t a tactic: it’s a strategy. When I write my monthly article for the newsletter, I keep my writing skills sharp. When I attend a presentation by the Training committee, I learn something new or participate in a workshop that helps me refine my interview skills or elevator speech. When I help lead the weekly LinkedIn Lab, I hone my presentation skills and sometimes even learn something myself. And without fail, in the weekly general membership meeting, I always encounter someone with whom I want to network: either because I can offer something useful to that person, or vice versa.
Working alongside other professionals to achieve a shared goal provides the sense of accomplishment that I’ve been missing since becoming unemployed.