Networking with a purpose

Networking with a purpose

Networking is all about relationships

People in transition know that 60 to 80 percent of job seekers get their next positions through networking. Consequently and whenever possible, they focus their daily activities on such networking. But despite their—sometimes admittedly awkward—efforts, nothing comes of it. The reason is that they don’t have an understanding of the actual purpose of networking and how to turn it into interviews.

The purpose of networking is to cultivate relationships for advice, information, leads, and, hopefully, referrals. While it’s important to know others for this purpose, it’s equally important that those others know you. Most people are willing to network, but they have the right to expect you to (1) focus on specific companies and (2) demonstrate to them that networking is a give-and-take transaction, whereby they, too, may get from you in turn some industry intelligence.

For those who don’t know how to go about approaching a person for the purpose of networking, here’s a simple script that can be used either over the phone or via e-mail.

My name is Jane Jones. Our mutual acquaintance Stan Smith
suggested I give you a call [or send you an e-mail] because he feels
you’re an expert in [whichever] industry. Stan suggested
you might be of assistance to me. I’m currently in between jobs and looking for a role as a [insert title/position]. I don’t expect you to know
of an opening in this area, but perhaps you can share with me
your thoughts about ways I can find out who’s hiring.

The mechanics of a networking dialogue should have the following components. An initial rapport building to establish the relationship. An agenda for the purpose—and that consider how you, too, can add value. Try finding out whom the other person knows or what good contacts the person has. Another element is likability. You must develop your relationship on trust, integrity, and show of enthusiasm, motivation, and drive. Nobody enjoys a conversation with someone who’s depressed—with the possible exception of a psychologist!   And last, get engaged in the exchange, and try to feel comfortable asking for referrals. When you get them, make sure you keep your host in the loop.

If you follow these guidelines, it’s very likely that you’ll generate more interviews. In that event, make sure you’re well prepared. You don’t want to drop the ball once you’re so close to scoring.

3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

Everybody has a brand. Is yours a good one?

More than ever, when you are in transition you should have a brand. Why? you ask. Because that is how you differentiate yourself and stand out from the proverbial crowd.

Branding is not about what you like but about what employers like. Your branding statement—whether in writing, on the Internet, or spoken via your elevator pitch should have the triple purposes of gaining credibility, arousing curiosity, and increasing your likability factor. And your work toward those goals will not be in vain, because 90 + percent of employers check out candidates prior to making initial searches via, say, LinkedIn, Spokeo, or ZoomInfo.

Nowadays, employers use Google when searching for prospects. Research shows that 29% of people use two words when searching, 28% use three words, 17% use four words, and only 11% use one word. This means that your résumé or any other information about you should be rich with nouns and phrases. This advice is different from what we were told in the past: that résumés should have lots of action verbs. In fact, a combination of both is best. Yes, certainly computers are looking for keywords, but when people actually read about you, they want to see both action and accomplishments.

A recent study found that 90% of people search on the first three pages of search engine results and that 62% search only on the first page. Good branding work rewards candidates by resulting in a high ranking on Google and LinkedIn searches. To find out what’s out there in cyberspace, here are the most common social media search engines:

Setting it up is a bit time-consuming, but you might be surprised at the information available about you and that you didn’t have a clue about. One of the best ways to find out what people are saying about you is to monitor your reputation via www.google.com/alerts.

It’s very important to communicate properly, for this is how people judge you. And there are certain words and phrases you should avoid because they’re overused and most often meaningless. Here are a few examples:

  • Extensive experience
  • Motivated
  • Dynamic
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Innovative
  • Results oriented
  • Proven track record
  • Fast paced
  • Entrepreneurial

These days 90%+ of recruiters check LinkedIn. Therefore it makes good sense for you to improve as best as possible the information on your LinkedIn page. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Increase the number of recommendations.
  • Ask questions and provide answers.
  • Update your status periodically.
  • Inform your connections about projects you’re working on.
  • Connect with your Twitter account.
  • Share links to articles of interest.
  • Import e-mail addresses from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.
  • Connect with ex-colleagues: people on LinkedIn from companies you worked with before.
  • Connect with people you met in person via networking events and whose business cards you collected.

As you can see, branding yourself is of utmost importance. Otherwise, you stay hidden from those you really want to see you.

How to Create Your Best Personal Image

How to Create Your Best Personal Image

Personal image is the dearest thing you own

When you feel disappointed, you feel let down because your expectations failed to be met. Little children at times express their reactions to disappointment by crying; adults deal with disappointment more maturely—through logic. Regardless of your age, though, disappointment evokes strong emotions.

Those in job transition have a heightened sense of awareness of such emotional response and make every effort to protect themselves from disappointment, yet at times they’re the ones causing disappointment to others and themselves—often unknowingly. Job seekers certainly do not do that by design, but awareness of the possibility of being the cause provides an opportunity to avoid or correct a potentially critically fatal situation. For example, as one who uses social media extensively, I have to admit that I’m attracted to people who have a really good picture on their profile—not necessarily because of their looks but because I can identify with those who I can see understand the value of projecting their best.

Next I poke around the Internet and sometimes find a video or other, more recent, pictures of the person. And that’s when the disappointment might come in: when it’s apparent that the picture on the profile is years old. That causes me to feel let down. Another instance that people in transition should consider is their submission of an archaic résumé to accompany a job application. This is the equivalent of being invited to an important event and showing up in soiled clothing in disrepair, which of course is simply unacceptable.

Recruiters tell me that occasionally, in contacting job seekers by phone, they get the impression that the person at the other end of the call is totally unprepared to discuss employment issues. The job seeker wants and needs a job but has failed to prepare for such a phone call. The result? The recruiter feels disappointed, and the job seeker has lost an opportunity. What a shame!

I remember a time I went to a job search networking event. Admittedly, it was a warm-weather day, but I’ll never forget the inappropriate apparel of several of those attendees who wanted to project themselves as high-level executives, high-powered lawyers, and the like. The shorts, worn-out T-shirts, and flip-flops (!) some of them were wearing were certainly incongruent with the image I would have expected from such people.

Building a personal image is difficult and takes time. Ruining it is easy and instant. How often do job candidates come out of an interview and blame themselves for not having answered the interviewer’s questions well? Both parties know it and feel equally disappointed. The candidate could have prepared better, but by then it’s too late. The irreversible damage has been done.

So, the next time, especially when you’re in transition, try to think with the other person’s mind, and ask yourself whether you’re making the right impression or the wrong one.