Professional networking in good times and bad
Are you keeping up to date on your professional network? In these tougher economic times, it is not just “what you know”. “Who you know” is what will help you land a new job. With unemployment at an all-time high, recruiters are sifting through more resumes than ever before. I am not saying to abandon job boards. They are a solid source to find out “who is hiring”, but I don’t know if applying via the job board or via a company website is the most effective way to get noticed. You are probably applying with 100’s, if not 1000’s of other applicants.
Professional networking is a lost art. I don’t know if it is because we live in a time where the saying “let’s do lunch” is just passe’, we are all too busy, but the days of MadMen martini lunches seems to have passed us by. Networking for a job is a critical step in your search. If you are employed, NOW is the time to connect and reconnect with your current network. Buy coffee’s and make the time for lunches. Show a sincere interest in your network and make an effort to help out others. It is a poor showing when I don’t hear from someone for a year and then they just pop out of the blue looking for “the hook up”.
Below are some tips for networking for your job search:
1. Send your resume and a brief description of what you are looking for to key contacts in your professional network. Just saying you are looking for a job with your resume is not enough. Make it easy to help you and be specific about what you are looking for. Statements like the below will put your search into perspective and make it much easier for your network to help.
- “I am looking for a leadership position in the printing industry.”
- “I am looking for a startup in the pre-funding stage that is looking to disrupt an industry using RoR.”
- “I am looking for a summer job where I can make some money before I go to school”
Even if you haven’t talked with folks in a long time, it only takes “one lead” to land you an interview with the right position. Add a bounty of some sort. Let folks know you will buy them a gift certificate to a big name steakhouse. Make it something EVERYONE can relate to. I personally don’t drink wine, so a nice bottle isn’t really motivating for me.
2. Send the same email blast to your significant others network. You and your S.O. are a team and should act like one. When I recommend this tactic, I always hear candidates I work with say “My significant others’ network and my network are the same”. Your immediate friends and family are probably the same, but beyond that, your professional networks are very different. Keep the steak bounty in the email if it is appropriate. Maybe a gift certificate to the local mall is better bait.
3. Meet face to face with the connectors you know. Real estate agents, your dentist, your minister are all people that have large professional networks. Buy these folks lunch or a cup of coffee and ask them for any advice they may have. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO MEET AND DEAL WITH YOU. INSIST on picking up the tab for coffee or lunch. You are going to ask them for advice in the future, so don’t give them any reasons to think twice about meeting with you now or in the future. Give them an excuse to meet with you. I recently met with someone who was picking my brain of the interview process for a specific company. This guy knew I enjoyed cigars and brought me a Cuban cigar that I had not tried before. You bet I was motivated to return the favor and meet with him in the future. Yes, he got the job and I got another cigar.
4. It’s a two-way street. You are asking your professional network to help you, how can you help your network? Are they looking to fill positions that you can help fill your network? Do they need a house sitter or a dog walker while they are on vacation? If you are unemployed, you have the time. It’s a two-way street. They will scratch your back, make sure you scratch theirs.
5. Use your social network to make connections with people who ARE working in the specific company you are looking for an introduction to. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc are all great places to find 2nd and 3rd-degree connections to colleagues in specific industries or employees working in companies you are looking into. Ask your immediate network for 2nd-degree introductions. When you make that introduction, avoid just asking for them to forward your resume. Show some discipline and maturity by offering to buy them coffee so you can pick their brain about the company, culture, interview questions, etc.
6. (Yes, I know I said 5, this is a gift) Be presentable. You don’t have to wear a suit, but please show up looking presentable. Your connection may be putting their reputation on your name to give them confidence that you aren’t going to tarnish it. Showing up ultra casual, late, or checking your phone for messages and texts gives me the idea that you are going to have the same behavior when you meet with anyone I introduce you to.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. E.G. “He has a nasty forkball”.