Tag Archives: follow-up

10 ways to make your job-search networking meetings go smoothly

The day a woman called me to ask for an “informational interview” I had a feeling it wouldn’t go well. The tone of her voice was monotone, unenthusiastic. She was smacking gum in my ear. Regardless, I said yes and then there was silence. “Hello,” I said.

networking-meeting

“Oh, I was just looking through my calendar to see when I’m free,” she replied.

As I suspected, the conversation didn’t go well. The woman was probably told by a well-meaning career advisor to ask for an informational interview. But she wasn’t told the questions to ask or why she was asking for a networking meeting. She wasn’t clear on the purpose of our meeting.

The purpose of a networking meeting

First of all, no job has been advertised, so these meetings are not actual interviews. That’s why the term “networking meeting” is more fitting.

Second, you’re requesting a networking meeting to gather advice for a particular position and the company. So you’re the one asking the intelligent, thought-provoking questions. Therefore there is no pressure on the person offering information and advice, and no pressure on you.

Third, your goal is to present yourself as a potential solution to problems the company may have. There might be a position developing at the company, unbeknownst to you; and you might be recommended to the hiring manager for the position. At the very least, you could be sent away with three other people with whom to speak.

10 ways to make sure your networking meetings go smoothly.

1. Ask strong questions. Poor questions show a lack of preparation and are disrespectful. A question like, “What does your company do?” is weak because it lacks creativity and thought. Besides, you should already know what the company does before talking with the person granting you the meeting. I hate this question.

Another question I hate being asked is, “What do you do?” Can you be a little more specific? “How do you prepare for creating your workshops?” is a question I can talk to at length because it gives me direction. Begin the discussion with, “I know a little about what you do, but I have some questions to ask….”

Note: If there’s one question you should ask, it’s, “Are there any issues or problems that exist in your department or the company?” This gives you the opportunity to talk about how you’d solve the problem/s.

2. Your enthusiasm level is high. Chances are the person granting you the networking meeting is not looking forward to spending his valuable time answering questions from a person he’s never met or met once at a conference. So coming across as bored or hesitant, will not bode well.

Instead begin the conversation by introducing yourself and explaining why you are excited about talking with said person. Why you’re interested in the position up for discussion, as well as the types of companies you’re interested in learning about.

Don’t forget to smile while you’re talking in person or on the phone—it can be heard through the phone connection.

3. Arrive or call on time. This is a no brainer. If you are late for the meeting, you might as well kiss it goodbye. This is common sense; people hate it when others are late, me included.

Make arrangements for this special day so that there’s no way you’ll be late. In fact, arrive early if you’re meeting for coffee with the person granting you the meeting. If you’re calling, set your watch alarm or e-mail alert 10 minutes before making the call. Don’t call late or early; call at the exact time.

4. Have a clear agenda. Similar to point #1, your agenda must provide direction. Don’t come across as wimpy and disorganized.

State at the beginning of the meeting that your goal is to learn more about the position, the company, and competition—if the person can speak to that point.

While you want the meeting to be more like a conversation, it doesn’t hurt to provide structure. Write down all your questions in groupings of the job, company, and competition. This way you won’t forget to ask them.

5. Provide data to back up your accomplishments. You’re not being interviewed for a job, but the person granting you the meeting will want to know something about you, what you’re made of. To break the ice, she might ask what you currently do and what your interests are.

So you’re interested in event planning, but most of your experience as been through extensive volunteerism (you stayed home 10 years to raise a family). Most recently, you were tasked with planning the PTO’s bake sale which raised $3,000; whereas the year before the school raised only $150. Tell her you “love” event planning.

This is great information and should be shared with the person granting you the networking meeting, if asked.

6 Show your gratitude. Don’t make the person feel as though you’re the one who’s inconvenienced by having to ask questions and giving structure to the meeting. You come across as someone who is all about yourself, not about giving back.

As I’ve said before, the person granting you the networking meeting is taking time out of her busy schedule. Say, “Thank you for taking this time to answer my questions” at the outset and repeat your words of gratitude at the end of the conversation.

7. Don’t ask for a job. There’s no job available; at least to the person granting you the meeting, so don’t be presumptuous. Besides, the mere fact that you’re before this person or talking on the phone implies you’re looking for a job, especially at this company.

Now if it’s a known fact between you and the person with whom you’re speaking that a position exists at the company, by all means discuss the possibility of your fit, both job-related and personality wise. Perhaps you were given a soft lead from a connection of yours.

8. A call for action. Always ask if there’s anyone else you can speak with to gather more information and advice. If no position exist or is being developed at the moment, the least you should come away with are additional people with whom to talk. Often job seekers will neglect this part of the networking process.

Your goal is to gather as many quality people to join your networking campaign as possible. Politely ask at the end of the informational meeting, “Can you think of anyone I can speak with regarding a nursing position?” Don’t expect the person to come up with three people immediately; she may have to send you the contact information.

9. Reciprocate. Failure to give back demonstrates your lack of networking etiquette. You can’t expect to receive and not give. I come across many people who think their job search is the center of everyone’s lives and don’t think of offering help to those who help them.

Reciprocity can come in many forms. After discussing some issues that existed at the company, you came up with a better procedure for the company’s supply chain operation. Or the small company needs some graphic art for their website—this will fit nicely on your résumé.

10. Always send a thank-you note and follow-up. This is a golden rule at any point in your job search. Failing to send a thank-you note, via e-mail or a card is insulting and a sure way to lose that person as part of your network. A nicely written thank you shows your gratitude and professionalism.

Gently remind the person who granted you the network meeting of the additional people you should contact. Keep a lively conversation—perhaps one that involved an existing problem at the company—going, and offer a solution to that problem. By all means don’t drop this person as a potential networking connection.


Networking meetings can be a gem. I tell my workshop attendees that they’re not easy to come by, as people are extremely busy. Most people who grant networking meetings do so because they want to help you in your job search. Don’t waste their time. They can be an asset to your networking endeavor.

And please don’t act like the woman who called me for our “informational interview.”

Photo: Flickr, Pulpolux !!!

10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn strategy (Part 2)

One thing I emphasize in my LinkedIn workshops is the importance of being active on LinkedIn. My mantra is, “You can have the best profile in the world, but if you’re not active, it means nothing.” In part one of this two-part article, I listed five steps to make your LinkedIn strategy a success. The conclusion of the article addresses the remaining five steps.

Kid playing chess

6. Use the Companies feature to network. The Companies feature is one of LinkedIn’s best features, as it allows you to identify valuable people in various companies. Often LinkedIn is the only way job seekers can locate important people at their target companies.

Your goal is to connect with people at desired companies (do you have a company target list?) before a job is advertised, thereby penetrating the Hidden Job Market. Play your cards right and you can set the foundation, so when the job becomes public knowledge you’re already known by the company.

Another scenario is identifying people who work in your target companies who can provide you with additional information, or even deliver you resume to the hiring manager.

Similar to using the Companies feature to network with strategic people is Find Alumni, a feature that helps you connect with people you went to school with based on criteria, such as what they studied, where they live, where they work, etc. The benefit of connecting with your alumni is obvious; people want to help their own.

Read 6 interesting facts about your alumni on LinkedIn.

7. Use the Jobs feature. LinkedIn has made strides to make the Jobs feature a player in the job board arena. It’s not succeeding as well as LinkedIn has hoped—Indeed.com and others still draw many job seekers. But increasingly more companies are using LinkedIn to advertise their jobs.

What’s nice about Jobs is that you can apply directly to a company’s website, as well as use “Easy Apply,” which allows you to send your profile to companies trying to fill positions. As well, the poster of jobs might be listed, allowing you to send an Inmail to said person.

Before you select a job, you can see first degree connections or alumni who work for companies filling positions. This gives you the opportunity to contact said people for better networking opportunities.

Note: if you are a Career premium member, you have access to information basic members don’t. You can see who your competitors are, as well as the major skills you might lack for a particular position. LinkedIn provides you with the average salary of the job for which you’re applying.

8. Endorse your connections’ skills. I never thought I’d write this, but endorsements are here to stay. The argument against endorsement is that skills can be endorsed willy nilly, without people actually seeing a person perform said skills.

Certainly this happens, but my solution to making this more viable is outlined in an article in which I encourage LinkedIn users to rearrange their skills in order to give their connections an idea of which skills they should be endorsed.

One thing we can say about endorsements is that they encourage engagement between connections. If your goal is to accumulate endorsements, you’ll have to endorse people in your network. Do this only if you have a sense for the skills you’re endorsing. Otherwise you’re supporting the argument that endorsements are meaningless.

9. Ask for and write recommendations. Your strategy should include requesting recommendations from your former supervisors and, to some extent, your colleagues. If you find that your supervisors are slow in writing your recommendation, you may want to offer some guidance in terms of what you’d like included in your recommendation, or you may even want to write it yourself.

Write recommendations for your former employees; it’s a great way to brand yourself. This shows your authority, as well as what you value in a good employee. You don’t have to be asked to write the recommendation; simply write one and send it to your former employees. They’ll appreciate your generosity very much.

10. Follow up. Always follow up. Every networking pundit will tell you that following up with new connections can be the most important piece of networking, both after personal meetings and connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Obviously it’s difficult, if not impossible, to follow up with everyone in your LinkedIn network, particularly if you’re a LION.

Keep in constant contact with your connections by responding immediately to direct messages or even responding to their updates. There’s nothing worse than starting a relationship and then dropping it like a lead balloon.


Sometimes we loose sight of our strategy and our LinkedIn campaign becomes disorganized. At this time it’s important to reign it in and adhere to the components I’ve outlined in this two-part article.

Photo: Flickr, moradini2009 (mikeoradini.dotphoto.com)

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7 reasons why you landed your job

Searching for a job was scary and one of the most difficult times in your life. But you made it. You landed the job you wanted. Your job search took longer than you would have liked, but you persevered for six months.

Success

When you think about what led you through your journey and to this new opportunity, you can pinpoint 6 distinct reasons:

1. You demonstrated emotional intelligence (EQ).There were times when you felt like throwing in the towel. You felt like staying in bed dreading the days ahead. Your feelings of despondency were unseen by others, save for loved ones and your closest friends.

When you were networking in your community, attending networking groups three times a week, and taking workshops at the local career center, you showed a confident demeanor. You were positive and demonstrated a willingness to help others. Despite negative thoughts, you did your best to help yourself and others.

Read 12 ways to show emotional intelligence.

2. You developed a target company list. Taking the advice of your career advisor, you made a list of companies for which you wanted to work. She told you to spend time researching your target companies and contacting people for networking meetings before jobs were advertised.

You left each networking meeting with different people to contact. You had the sense that one person, a VP of Marketing and Sales, had an interest in you. He led you to the door saying, “We might be in touch with you real soon.” But you didn’t rely on this one occurrence.

You continued to build your target company list and ask for networking meetings. You were spending less time applying for jobs online and more time meeting with quality connections. You were optimistic. You felt productive.

Read 4 components of job-search networking emails.

3. You upped your LinkedIn campaign. You knew how important it is to be on LinkedIn in order to reach out to many people across the state, the country, the world. You were told how important LinkedIn can be to your job search, but you were skeptical.

There was a great deal of work to do, including creating a profile that was based on your résumé, but you developed it into more of a networking document. You personalized it, employing first-person point of view.

You learned the value of connecting with people on LinkedIn, how you can narrow your search to consist of quality connections who are in your industry. Despite all this, you are behind the eight ball because you started your campaign later than others. Your realized you needed to play catch up.

Your company list was not developed in vain, as you used it to connect with people within those companies. One advisor told you to build your foundation in companies for which you wanted to work.

Read 10 steps toward a successful LinkedIn strategy (Part 1)

4. You networked the proper way. At networking events you were attentive to others, while also willing to ask for help. Many people think only of their situation, not of helping others. Not you. You kept your eyes open for opportunities for your networking companions.

When people ask you for leads at companies of interest, you gave them the names of hiring managers in various departments. You became known as the “Connector.” Weeks later, you were happy to learn of one of your networking companions landing a position at a company, based on one of your leads.

You also networked in your community. Told everyone you knew that you were looking for a job and asked them to keep their ears to the pavement. Who would have known that your neighbor across the street would be the reason you landed your job?

He worked at one of your target companies and knew the VP of marketing and would deliver your résumé to him. Put in a good word. You were asked to come in to have a few discussions.

Read 10 ways to make a better impression while networking

5. You wrote killer résumés. Yes, plural. Because you tailored as many of your résumés as possible to each job, knowing that every employer has different needs. A one-fits-all résumé doesn’t work. In addition, you eliminated fluff from your Performance Profile. It’s better to show, rather than tell.

Most importantly, you packed a punch in your Experience section by listing accomplishment statements with quantified results. Results like, “Increased productivity by 80%” sounds better than simply, “Increased productivity.”

Using your network was key in getting your résumé into the hands of the hiring managers, such as the time your neighbor delivered your value-packed résumé to that hiring manager.

Read 8 reasons why hiring authorities will read your résumé.

6. You nailed the interviews at one of your target companies. There were five interviews for the job your neighbor led you to; two telephone, two group, and a one-on-one. You were prepared for each interview, having researched the company, the position, their competition, even the interviewers.

You used LinkedIn to discover who the interviewers were. One was a youth soccer coach, like you. Another had gone to your alma mater. And another was a veteran, so you were sure to thank her for her service. That went over very well.

After each interview you sent unique follow-up notes to every interviewer, ensuring that you mentioned a specific point of interest made by each one. You even sent a thank-you note to the receptionist. Smart move.

After 6 months, you received an email from the VP of marketing telling you they were offering you the position of marketing manager and were also exceeding your salary requirement.

Read 6 ways to interact with one of the most important people in the interview process 

7. Your work was not complete. You didn’t forget the people who helped you along the way, such as the person who helped you revise your résumé, the people with whom you formally networked, and certainly your neighbor who led you to your new job. They deserved thanks.

In the true spirit of networking, there were people who you could help in a more meaningful way, such as Sydney from your networking group who was looking for an engineering position.

There was a mechanical engineer position opening in your new company. You mentioned the position to Sydney and gave her a good word. Wouldn’t you know; you changed Sydney’s life for the better.

Read 6 topics to include in your thank-you notes.

I’ve heard many stories from my clients who have similar plots to this one. Their job search wasn’t easy. Their landing was well deserved. But they had to display EQ, do their research, help others, and be willing to help themselves. If you are dedicated to do the same, your job search will be shorter.

A portion of this post appeared in Recruiter.com

Photo: Flickr Marc Accetta

 

Are you wasting your summer? 5 steps to landing your next job.

Job seekers often ask me if employers are hiring during the summer. My answer to them is, “Sure.” In fact, a career center near me is in the process of filling three positions. But on a whole, employers are not hiring as much as in late fall.

woman summer

A recent article in Monster.com supports this claim:

“Major hiring initiatives may follow close on the heels of the holidays and summer. ‘The big months for hiring are January and February, and late September and October,’ says [Scott] Testa. ‘Job seekers who make contact right at the start of these cycles have the best chance of being hired.'”

Consider this: while some job seekers are taking the summer off for vacation, you’ll have a head start on your job search. There will be less competition. 

So, is summer the time to take vacation? Heck no. Summer is perhaps the best time to find the job you really want. No, you won’t find it on Monster.com or any other job board. You’ll find it by setting the foundation for the fall.

This will entail conducting your labor market research, and then networking, networking, and networking. Follow these five steps for success.

1. Coming up with a target company list is the first step toward landing your ideal job. These are the companies you’re dying to work for. This is where your research begins.

I tell job seekers that they should have a list of 10-15 companies for which they’d like to work. Many don’t; they have a hard time naming five. Yet if some of them were asked to name their top five restaurants, they could.

2. Once you’ve identified the companies you’d like to research, you should dedicate a great deal of your computer time visiting their websites…and less time applying online.

Study what’s happening at your chosen companies. Read website pages on their products or services, their press releases (if they’re a public company), biographies of the companies’ principals, and any other information that will increase your knowledge of said companies.

Summer vacation

Your goal is to eventually make contact and meet with people at your target companies, so it makes sense to know about the companies before you approach them. This research will also help when composing your résumé and cover letter and, of course, it will come into play at the interview.

3. If you don’t have familiar contacts at your favorite companies, you’ll have to identify new potential contacts. You might be successful ferreting them out by calling reception, but chances are you’ll have more success by utilizing LinkedIn’s Companies feature.

Most likely you’ll have outside first degree connections who know the people you’d like to contact—connections who could send an introduction to someone in the company. My advice is to start with someone at your level and work your way up to decision makers.

Let us not forget the power of personal, or face-to-face, networking. Reaching out to job seekers or people currently working can yield great advice and leads to contacts. Your superficial connections (neighbors, friends, etc.) may know people you’d like to contact.

4. Begin initial contact with those who you’ve identified as viable contacts. Your job is to become known by your desired companies.

Will you be as well known as internal candidates? Probably not, but you’ll be better known than the schmucks who apply cold for the advertised positions—the 20%-30% of the jobs that thousands of other people are applying for.

Let’s face it; going through the process of applying for jobs on the major job boards is like being one of many casting your fishing line into a pool where one job exists. Instead spend your time on researching the companies so you’ll have illuminating questions to ask.

So, how do you draw the attention of potential employers?

  • Contact someone via the phone and ask for an informational meeting. People these days are often busy and, despite wanting to speak with you, don’t have a great deal of time to sit with you and provide you with the information you seek. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an enthusiastic reply.
  • Send a trusted and one-of-the-best-kept-secrets networking email. This approach is similar to making a cold call to someone at a company, but it is in writing and, therefore, less bold. Employers are more likely to read a networking email than return your call. Unfortunately, it’s a slower process and doesn’t yield immediate results.
  • A meeting with the hiring manager or even someone who does what you do continues your research efforts. You will ask illuminating questions that provoke informative conversation and ideally leads to meetings with other people in the company. At this point you’re not asking for job, you’re asking for advice and information.

5. Sealing the deal. Follow up with everyone you contacted at your selected companies. Send a brief e-mail or hard copy letter asking if they received your résumé or initial introductory letter. If you’ve met with them, thank them for their time and valuable information they’ve imparted.

Send your inquiry no later than a week after first contact. For encouragement, I suggest you read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. It’s probably the most recommended books on networking in history and for good reason.

Ferrazzi goes into great detail about his methods of building relationships through networking, while emphasizing the importance of constantly following up with valued contacts.


So, you can take the summer off and go on vacation, or you can get the leg up on other job seekers and be proactive in your job search. Look at it this way: although employers may not be hiring as rapidly as they will in the fall, you’re investing in a job of your choice.

Photo, Flickr, Andrea Cisneros

Photo: Flickr, Adam Smok

14 tips to connect in your community for your job search

Some job seekers see attending organized networking events as akin to meeting their future in-laws for the first time. For some it’s downright frightening; one job seeker told me she hyperventilates before she goes to an event. Wow.

small meetingPerhaps you feel similar symptoms, dreading the times you have to attend organized networking events.

You’re expected to engage in conversation about you and the strangers you meet, deliver your elevator pitch, maintain proper posture, exchange business cards, refrain from eating messy food, etc.

Take away the expectations that come with attending a networking event, and you’re left with simply connecting with people in your community. You’re more relaxed. There’s no pressure to perform like you would at a networking event.

Community includes the people with whom you interact: former colleagues, small meet-ups, friends, family, neighbors, soccer parents, PTA members, your hair stylist, the folks with whom you volunteer, your career center staff—essentially everyone in your life.

Am I suggesting that you avoid networking events? Certainly not. There are opportunities these events provide, but by connecting with people in your community valuable opportunities also exist. Some important points to consider when connecting in the community include:

  1. Get the word out. As simple as this sounds, I know people who don’t tell family or friends they’re out of work because of shame and embarrassment. Regardless of how you departed your company/organization, your community has to know you’re no longer employed. There is no shame in being unemployed, as thousands of others like you are in the same situation.
  2. Don’t come across as desperate. One thing employers look for in a candidate is confidence. The same applies to your community. Someone who appears confident and not phased by their situation is someone your community members will be willing to back.
  3. Make a good first impression. Along with projecting a positive attitude, dressing well at all times, being considerate of people’s time, going out of your way to help others, and of course smiling all count. The saying that your first impression is your last impression holds true.
  4. Resist the urge to bash. Regardless of how your employment ended, don’t rant about how unfairly you were treated and the circumstances of why you were let go or laid off. If asked about your departure, explain how it happened, but don’t come across as angry. If you’re not past the anger stage, avoid talking about the situation.
  5. Know what you want to do. Your community can only help you if you are able to explain very clearly what occupation you’re pursuing, the industry in which you’d like to work, even the location you prefer. To say, “I’ll do anything; I just need a job” is not helpful to people in your community, and will make you appear desperate.
  6. Clearly explain what you do. To say, “I’m in customer service” is not enough.Telling your community that you “answer customers’ questions regarding their cable, telephone, and Internet issues” paints a better picture and provokes follow-up questions.
  7. Do your researchWhat type of companies do you want to work for? What are the names of those companies? This is all important information, especially if you know of someone in your community who has a contact or two at those companies. Casually connecting with these people by making a phone call or meeting them for coffee can lead to results.
  8. No events are off limits. Bar-b-ques, holiday parties, baby showers, your nephew’s birthday party, are appropriate places to connect to explain your status. Just be tactful and don’t dominate conversations with your job search woes. Instead briefly explain what you do and ask people to keep their ears to the pavement.
  9. Start small. An alternative to an organized networking event is a meet-up. This is a small group consisting of 4 or 5  people who get together to discuss their job-search situation, hold each other accountable, offer job-search advice, and provide moral support.
  10. Carry personal business cards with you. That’s right; even when you connect with your community in a casual way you’ll want to show how serious you are about finding a job. It shows professionalism and helps people to remember what you do and the type of job you’re seeking (related to numbers 4 and 5). Unlike your resume, they are easy to carry.
  11. Never outright ask if they know of a job. If you want your community to help you, don’t ask if they know of any jobs that would suit you. This only puts pressure on them. One phrase I used when I was out of work was, “If you come across anything, please let me know.”
  12. Stay top of mind. Ping the people in your community with updates on your job search or just to keep in touch by sending them e-mails or cards on special occasions. It doesn’t always have to be about your job search; asking a contact how their child’s play went is a good break from business. Doing this will keep you top of mind.
  13. Follow up. Perhaps the most important part of you job search is following up on the people with whom you’ve spoken. Chances are they for got your conversation a couple of days ago. Kindly tell them, “I’m following up on our conversation. When you get the chance to send me Bob McIntosh’s contact information, I would appreciate it very much.” Always follow with asking them how you can be of assistance.
  14. Reciprocate. When you finally get your job, be sure to show your gratitude by offering to help those who assisted you with your job search. This means everyone. You may not be able to provide the same kind of help, but maybe you could help someone with her small business, for instance. Keep the good will in your community going.

Connecting with people in your community should feel natural and relaxed, not stiff and laborious. Connecting at networking events can have great benefits, and over time you’ll learn to network better; but begin by establishing relationships with the people in your community and build your way up to attending the events.

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Photo: Flickr, Ormiston Sudbury Academy

The day I messed up; my networking mistake

Screwed upThe day I messed up; it was a day you remember like when you forget your kid’s birthday. You can’t believe you made such a blunder and it stuck with you the whole day.

I had planned to meet with a fellow who is considered the premier networker in the area. He runs a business networking group called Friends of Kevin. I wanted to talk to him about expanding my LinkedIn Strategy business because I believed he could promote my business among his “Friends.”

We were supposed to meet for lunch and I was going to pay. Nothing fancy, just Mexican food from across the street. I was sitting at my desk eating a bowl of New England Clam Chowda (that’s how it’s pronounced in northeast Massachusetts). There I was enjoying my chowda, my bobbleheads on my desk looking on. I was totally oblivious to the fact that I had forgotten our lunch date.

Bobbleheads

From over my shoulder I heard something akin to, “I see you’ve already got some food.” Right then I knew I had seriously messed up. I also realized I didn’t have a viable excuse for forgetting our lunch date. There was no sense trying to hide my mistake. There was only fessin’ up.

“Dude, I’m sorry. I messed up,” I said to him.

“It’s cool,” he said. “I was going to meet someone later on. No worries.”

Over time I forgot this momentous blunder until this person shared on YouTube a similar mistake. He broadcasted to the world that he (too) had forgotten a networking meeting, hadn’t put it on his calendar. What a guy, I thought. How bold of him to admit his error and turn it into a lesson on how to follow up in the most obvious way.

Following up has always been a priority for me. I preach it in my workshops as one of the most important aspects of the job search; whether it’s calling someone after a networking event, meeting someone for coffee, making the informational meeting you asked for. Like in work, following up is essential for success. Your word is your bond. And I mean it.

Recently my friend did me a great favor by speaking to our career center on the topic of (can you guess?) networking. I’m sure during the guest speaking event he mentioned the importance of following up, and I’m pretty sure he spoke of my faux pas. I would’ve. He’s a good friend who easily forgives.

Someday I’ll make this networking mistake of mine up to him.

5 ways to be memorable in a positive way in your job search

question mark

I don’t remember much, but when I do, I never forget. There are some jobseekers I remember because they leave a lasting impression, like one woman I had in my Behavioral Interviewing workshop whose story about motivating others was so compelling. Melissa is her name.

Then there’s Mark who just got an Administrator position in healthcare. He thanked me for my help and told me he’d write an account of his job search and how LinkedIn was of great help.

Lisa landed a benefits job in human resources. Previously she was a manager, but she wanted out of that. She proved that stepping down is fine, just as long as you can still prove your value.

Armando I remember because he would always ping me with updates about his job search. He was always positive, never seemingly desperate, and sometimes he offered to help me. He still remains one of my favorite former customers, still someone I’ll reach out to. The other day, in fact, I called to see if he needed a gift in the form of a very talented jobseeker.

Kelly just landed a marketing job at a bank after being out of work for approximately a year. When she spoke with me just before securing her job, she admitted to being discouraged; but she never showed this. In fact it was just the opposite–she was positive and very active on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately there have been people who are a complete downer, but they’re far and in between. Still I remember them because of the poor impression they made. Mike Downer would constantly e-mail me about how he wasn’t going to make it. I would tell him he would if he networked and tried to be positive. He finally got a job. I won’t hear from him unless he needs another job.

The five people* I mention–yes they exist–who came across as positive and/or were willing to provide any help they could are the ones I would go out of my way to help; whereas the one that was always negative is someone I’d dread hearing from.

There’s a pattern here. People want to go out of their way to help those who make a good impression. If you want to be memorable to people who can assist you in your job search, keep in mind the following:

  1. Appearing positive, regardless of your internal struggles, attracts more people than if you’re negative. Negativity drives people away. Take Mike Downer, for example.
  2. Remind people of you by pinging them with e-mails and phone calls, but don’t annoy them with constant contact. Offer to meet them for coffee if it’s convenient for them.
  3. Always follow up after you’ve met someone who might be of assistance. Every time you follow up ask if you can be of assistance to them. If you can reciprocate in any way, it’s better than only asking for their help.
  4. Know your stories. Expert on storytelling, Katharine Hansen @ A storied Career, touts the importance of stories, how memorable they are in life and in the job search.
  5. Let people know about your successes. Had a great interview? Let people know. Finished a résumé you’re happy with? Let people know. Although your confidence may be low, announcing your achievements will make you and others feel great.

These are just a few positive things you can do to become memorable. Don’t be a downer, regardless of your internal struggles. Most people understand that being out of work is painful, including yours truly; so don’t make it the gist of your relationship with others. People like this are easy for me to remember, even if I can’t remember big name actors like Chris….See, I forgot.

*I will occasionally update this list of people and their examples of positiveness.

Don’t disappear from LinkedIn, my valued connections

disappering

How to stay in touch with your LinkedIn connections.

I connected with a childhood friend on LinkedIn about a month ago. It was like a reunion where we caught up on good times, exchanged professional information, and were happy to reconnect. For the last two weeks, though, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him.

What’s funny is that his profile was respectable; nay strong. He even used the media feature in his Experience section. He put real work into it and wrote to me, “I don’t know why people think building a profile is so difficult. All you have to do is play with it.”

But this post isn’t about the best way to build a profile; there have been many posts on this topic. What I’m constantly wondering is where are the people? The people who seem to be going strong, like my childhood friend, but suddenly disappear as if they’ve gone on an extended vacation.

One of the most important aspects of networking—online or personal—is maintaining a presence. I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees to update at least once a day. That’s correct, once a day. This is how you communicate with your connections and…stay on their minds.

Of course there have to be viable reasons for updating daily. It’s not like you can write, “I’m off to the beach; let’s meet up,” like you might on Twitter. No there must be intelligent and professional topics on which to update.

Let’s start with the most common:

  • Sharing articles—One of my favorites, especially articles from which people will learn. A good source for articles is Pulse.
  • Writing articles—I know, scary. But if you like writing, LinkedIn makes it possible to share your writing via Long Posts with your connections…and their connections.
  • Posting quotes—Some enjoy doing this. I’m not a big fan.
  • Writing about skills you’re developing—Great for jobseekers to show their value.
  • Letting people know what classes or conferences you’re attending—Perhaps you can meet up with people while you’re in DC.
  • Hosting an event—One of my connections hosts business networking events and uses LinkedIn to announce his events.
  • Provide tips—This demonstrates your expertise.
  • Ask questions—Ask illuminating questions that generate replies.
  • Are you leading workshops—Updating is a great way to promote them, as well as strengthen your brand as a workshop facilitator.
  • A great book you’re reading—Keep it professional. Because LinkedIn eliminated its Reading List feature, you might want to let people know you’re reading Twitter 2.0, for example.

Maybe updating on a regular basis is not your thing. You might simply want to:

  • “Like” what others update.
  • Write a short comment to someone’s post.
  • Thank people for visiting your profile.

The point is to be active and maintain your presence. It’s really not that hard, my valued connections.

I guess what I’m saying is I miss you. You are part of my network, so don’t disappear like a poof of dirt. Are you getting tired of LinkedIn? Are you spreading yourself too thin? Did you feel forced to join? Be persistent because, as you know, success only comes to those who work hard.

 

Photo: Danielle Nelson, Flickr

10 signs your job search resembles The Middle

The middleOne of my favorite TV shows is ABC’s The Middle. You know, the show about a family struggling just to get by. The character I like best is Brick, the youngest of the Hecks who is a genius yet oddly strange. (“Oddly Strange,” he whispers to his chest.) I also like Mike who my kids say I resemble, until I threaten to cut off their food supply.

Watching The Middle reminds me that some people conduct their job search as if it’s…The Middle. How, you may wonder? Think about the way the family never seems to get ahead, how their lives remain the same; and despite the fact that the show makes us laugh, we find it somewhat depressing. This is my point. There are 10 signs of your job search that resembles The Middle.

  1. No game plan. Does this not describe the Heck family to a T? Having a plan and goals also means you need to know what job you want to pursue, which can be the most difficult part of the job search for some. Without a plan, you’ll have no direction, which is essential if you don’t want to be stuck in The Middle land.
  2. A résumé that fails to brand you. Most important is writing a résumé that is tailored to each job, showing employers you can meet their specific needs. A Summary that fails to attract the attention of the reader, lacking a Core Competency section. no accomplishments to mention; are all signs of a The Middle job search.
  3. No online presence, namely LinkedIn, the premier social media application for the job search. At least 87% of recruiters/employers use LinkedIn to find talent, so if you’re not on LinkedIn you’re definitely hurting your chances of advancing in the job search.
  4. cover letter that doesn’t excite. You’re writing cover letters that fail to express your personality and are, well, boring. Worse yet, you’re sending form cover letters that don’t show you meet the specific requirements of the job. Further, you’re a believer of not sending cover letters. The Middle material for sure.
  5. Only applying online for positions. I’m not saying not to use job boards, but don’t use them as the foundation of your job search; networking still is, and will be, the most successful way to find employment. Don’t be fooled into thinking that sending out hundreds of applications will advance your job search…definitely reminiscent of The Middle.
  6. Networking isn’t part of your vocabulary. If you’re not going to networking events, meet-ups, or connecting with everyone you know, you’re missing the boat. Networking is proactive and a great way to uncover hidden opportunities at companies/organizations that may be hiring.
  7. Informational interviews are alien to you. The goal behind information interview is networking with people who are in your desired industry and selected companies. Impressing the people with whom you speak can create opportunities that might include being recommended for a job developing in the company, or may lead to speaking with other quality connections.
  8. Following up with potential connections is missing from the equation. You’re great at meeting people at networking events or other places to connect. You promise to e-mail or call your connections. But you don’t. This is a sure way to be stuck in The Middle, where nothing seems to change.
  9. Preparing for interviews as an afterthought. Oops, you go to interviews without having done your research on the position and company. You think you can wing it because you know your business like no one does. You’ve heard of behavioral-based questions but aren’t too concerned. You don’t get the job because of your lack of preparation.
  10. Not sending a follow-up note clearly says you don’t care. And simply thanking the interviewer/s isn’t enough; show the interviewers you were listening and engaged by mentioning some points of interest or revisiting a question you didn’t elaborate on. If you want to remain in The Middle, don’t send a follow-up note. But if you want the job, show the love. And no form thanks-yous please.

The Middle teaches a good lesson about how we need to put more effort into the job search. Doing a few of these activities does not make a successful job search; they must all be done to shorten the search. Can you think of other components of the job search that are necessary to make it a success?

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Job Search Tip #7: Creating your contact list and start networking

The last tip looked at writing your accomplishment list. Today we’ll address creating your networking list of people who may help you find your next job.

By now you know that the best way to find work is by networking. Statistics from the Department of Labor show that networking accounts for at least 60% of your success, if used alone. Throw in online networking and you increase your chances of success.

The question is not if networking will help you in your job search; it’s with whom do you network? A simple answer is, everyone.

Here are the steps to take in developing your contact list and, just as importantly, following up with your contacts.

Make a list of the people with whom you worked or attended school. Don’t limit yourself to your most recent position; go back as far as 10 to 15 years. Also consider vendors and partners you may have done business with, or professors and teaching assistants you studied under.

Don’t forget the little guy. You may think that your managers, VPs, or directors are your best bet, but often times they are too busy to help. It’s usually your colleagues and people a level or two below you who have the time to spare and, quite honestly, care the most.

Consider everyone. Do you remember the mother of your daughter’s soccer teammate? The one who works at Raytheon? She might know of an accountant position in the works or that someone in marketing is on the outs. How about your convenience store owner who listens to his customers complain about not being able to fine good managers with business acumen? These people, along with family members, relatives, your plumber, and others can be a great source of networking.

These people are called superficial connections and often provide the leads necessary to get an interview. Too many people tell me they are only networking with past colleagues and supervisors, but it’s natural networking that may grant you success.

Develop new contacts by attending local networking events. This will take getting outside your comfort zone, but to bring new people into your fold; you’ll need to expand your reach. The best people to be around are people who are currently employed and own their own business. Local business networking events and chamber of commerce meet-ups are ideal for networking with people who are aware of the goings-on in the labor market.

Once you’ve made contact it’s important to follow-up with your new connections. A timely phone call placed to inquire about your contact’s daughter’s soccer game is a nice touch and will keep your name fresh in her mind. There is no harm in mentioning your employment status, but don’t inquire about any job openings at her company. “Do you know of anyone I should contact?” is a fair question, but don’t put on the pressure—it’s a sure way to lose a contact.

The secret behind online networking is to reach out to people who can be mutually helpful and then make personal contact with them. Many people feel that virtual communications will suffice in the networking arena. This is a mistake. People don’t get to know you unless they hear your voice or meet you in person. Agreeing to meet for coffee or at a contact’s office shows commitment on your part. Get outside your comfort zone.

Next Friday we’ll look at making your company list.