Shhh, don’t tell anyone, this is a big secret. And unfortunately, when people find out about it, they don’t believe, or they think it’s a lot of work or they are too scared to do it. I dare you to try it. This is a very effective way to find a job, and you should make it one of your strategies. I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but every one of my clients who have incorporated this has been successful in growing their network and finding employment. I know what you’re thinking “how the heck am I going to connect with people I DON’T KNOW?”
First of all, most of the people want to help you. You will notice that there are three types of people when you try to connect with them:
- People who never reply back
- People who feel obligated to reply (will reply within 3-4 days)
- People who respond right away and are happy to help you (will reply within 1-2 days)
As a rule of thumb, identify the people you reach out to and spend most of your energy and activities with people in the third category above. Also, keeping track of people you are reaching out to is critical. Identifying people as type 1, 2 or 3, will make your job search less overwhelming and more systematic.
Your first step is to identify organizations you would like to work for. At this stage, you have determined the work you want to do, in what industry and maybe the size of the organization. This approach works very well with small to medium-sized businesses and might be a little more challenging with bigger organizations.
Are you ready? Roll up your sleeves and do some research by identifying 5 or more companies. Below are some suggestions on how to get started:
- Peruse job listings that interest you; check out the qualifications and the company.
- Research economic and employment trends and read industry news.
- Search professional association websites, groups in LinkedIn and favourite blogs focused on your specialty.
- Identify the thought leaders and best-selling books in your industry.
- Look for upcoming speaking engagements or events related to your field.
- Contact people you know, and find out where they work and how they got there.
Connecting with people, you don’t know
Now that you have your list of companies, take a look at their websites; is there a page where they list their employees? Next, go to LinkedIn and search their names. If you can’t find a name, search the company on LinkedIn and bring up the company page. To the right, you will see a link to all the employees. If there are too many, do an advanced search and search by title or location. Experiment with different keywords. Ideally, you want to connect with people in the type #3 above. Below is a framework for reaching out to people you don’t know:
- Send out emails and put a reminder in your calendar 3 days from now.
- In 3 days, if they have not replied, label them as type 2 for now.
- In 7 days, if still no reply, send them a follow-up email like you said you would and label them as type 1.
Follow the above process, and once you get a reply, set up the meeting and conduct an informational interview. The idea here is to make it short and sweet and not waste your time nor theirs. The traditional way was to reach out by email by giving them a summary of what you do with your resume attached. This DOES NOT WORK! Send them the email below and simply ask for a short chat. You are not asking for a job, you are merely building a relationship that could lead to one. If towards the end of the meeting, there is no mention of employment, you can simply ask for referrals.
Email to PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW
Dear Mr. Smith,
My name is Nathalie Wood, and I am a Project Manager. May I have 20 minutes to ask you about your experience with (Company Name)? I am trying to learn more about your company, and your insights would be beneficial.
I recognize this may be a busy time for you, so if we are unable to connect by email, I’ll try to reach you next week to see if you are available then.
In summary, if you hear crickets, find another contact and follow-up when you say you will. When you do get a meeting, either by phone or in person, have your questions ready and always send a thank you email with a short summary of your discussion.
If you would like more information on this process, let me know.
Request a copy of “Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview” by sending me an email – I would be delighted to send them to you. Leave me a comment or questions in the box below. Next, we will talk about “Electronic Networking and your Online Presence”. If you want it right in your inbox, simply subscribe below.
Wishing you joy in your job search!
Guiding you to discover your passions
Inspiring you to make it happen
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