Does the thought of networking give you a sick feeling in the belly? Do you imagine yourself in the middle of a crowd, with a name tag and nobody is talking to you? And then, working up the courage to approach someone (who looks nice) and start a conversation? WHAT DO YOU SAY? The more you antagonize over it, the more you feel paralyzed, and the more you just want to be transported (Star Trek style) to anywhere but that room. STOP! Remove that picture from your head! What if networking was fun? First, the not so fun part: statistics. On average, 200 people will apply for a posted job and only 4 to 6 will be invited to an interview. That’s a lot of spent energy on your part and it can also be frustrating, demoralizing and leave you with a feeling of burnout. Another way of looking for a job is networking: Let me show you how networking can be easy, fun and energizing.
- Networking with your tribes or 1st connections (informational interviewing)
Have you noticed that within our family, friends and colleagues we are not always clear on what their jobs or career are? Take this opportunity to educate them and PRACTICE showcasing your value and your pitch. First, prepare a statement (value proposition), under two minutes, that explains what you do, your expertise and your strengths. This should be informal and friendly. Some people also call this an elevator speech. Next, make a list of these people and set up a 20-minute meeting, either in person or by phone, to let them know about your situation and ask about theirs. The meeting should go like this:
- Hellos, pleasantries, weather, etc.
- Your casual, impactful elevator speech to give them clarity about what you do
- Informational questions (make it about them)
a) How did your career path take you to this job with this company?
b) What do you do every day?
c) What do you like the most about your job/employer?
d) What do you like least about your job/employer?
e) Who else would you recommend I speak to?
Isn’t this a little more fun? And, without knowing it, you are actually practicing your interviewing skills! I know what you’re thinking, how am I going to find a job socializing? If your message is clear, even to a family member, they will remember what you do. This is where word of mouth will work for you. Some companies, when they have a position to fill will first ask their employees for referrals. Some companies even offer cash incentives. This way your resume will go straight in the hands of the Hiring Manager which will likely get you an interview. What are you waiting for? Get out there and spread the word to your tribes!
2. Networking with decision makers
Make a list of companies where you would like to work and do some research. Do you know anybody that works there; are there internal recruiters that you can connect with on LinkedIn; can somebody from your network introduce you to the hiring manager? When you connect with this person demonstrate that you are aware of a challenge that the company has and position yourself as the solution. You may be showing them that they need someone with your expertise. Jobs have been created for people based on their expertise, strengths, and the ability to present a solution. Who, out of your existing contacts, will be most helpful?
- People you already know
- People who work in your focus industry or target company
- People who may be in a position to refer you to someone else
- People who might otherwise help you
1st level: former coworkers, previous managers, members of your school’s alumni, family members, neighbors, or your child’s best friend’s parent. 2nd level: people you don’t have a relationship with yet and may work at one of your target companies, a manager who is in a position to hire you, a recruiter specializing in your industry, or someone otherwise connected to your job search goals. Start Networking With your list in hand connect with these people via LinkedIn, telephone, or e-mail. Request a 20-minute networking meeting. I highly recommend the book: The 20-Minute Networking Meeting – Professional Edition: Learn to Network. Get a Job. Paperback – by Nathan A. Perez and Marcia Ballinger PhD. Have fun starting new relationships and nurturing old ones. For a copy of my document: “Finding and Contacting Managers and Key Contacts”, send me an e-mail and I will be happy to send it to you. I would also love to hear your comments, in the box below. My next blog will be on “Following Up”, which is another very important step in your job search. Until next blog, wishing you joy!
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