One of the easy networking advices given out is "join a professional society." This certainly puts you in the path of people in your field, but most only have monthly or so meetings. This isn't ideal for an voracious job hunter like myself, so I've joined 3 or so since I've been here. But having a membership isn't going to open doors- it's not like ACS is some elite fraternity where people do you favors if you know the secret handshake. So how do I convert those professionals I might cross paths with into a useful part of my network?
I've started volunteering with the society.
Little did I know, that the top folk at any professional society are slightly overwhelmed professionals, trying to do a littler service for their community without losing their real job. Although the may be "elected," in the local chapter of most societies, this probably means the volunteered and no one said no. And they need help. I am no on the board of TWO professional societies, simply because I've volunteered to help. Now I have some active professionals who are grateful to have me around that I am free to impress with my work ethic, organizational skills and general demeanor. It's a great way for me to build a little credibility with some folks who are well connected.