Tag Archives: networking

2 facts about how introverts communicate and network

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Career advisors, when advising certain jobseekers, have you ever noticed that small talk–breadth of knowledge–is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics–depth of knowledge–and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before talking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.


Communicating

As you’re meeting with your jobseekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners who are not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted jobseeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your jobseeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted jobseeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep, thoughtful conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

As a career advisor, be cognizant of how introverts communicate. Give them space to express their thoughts and remember that the meetings you have are not about you; they’re about helping your jobseeker express their thoughts so you can better help them. Networking can be unpleasant unless the introvert has realistic expectations, so remind him that he’s in control of the situation.

Book Cover

6 reasons why you still need to network after finding a job by using LinkedIn

linkedinCongratulations, you landed a job. You used LinkedIn to get introduced to the hiring manager at one of your target companies. Although no job had been advertised, she called you in for a preliminary discussion.  This was after perusing your LinkedIn profile.

At the meeting she indicated that they needed to fill a marketing position that would require your level of social media experience. She said she’d be in touch. When the company decided to fill the position, you were called for a “formal” interview.

You answered every question they asked to their satisfaction and even demonstrated your understanding of key issues the company had, and how you would solve them. The VP and hiring manager offered you the position on the spot.

LinkedIn played a large role in getting the job. Now you can take a breather from networking on LinkedIn, right? Wrong. Now you need to maintain and even ramp up your activity for six very good reasons.

  1. Don’t abandon your connections. Some of them were instrumental to your job-search success (especially the woman who alerted you to the unadvertised position). Keep your ears to the pavements for those who were also looking while you were. Reciprocate by introducing them to the people who can help them get to the decision makers.
  2. Build on your expertise and strengthen your brand. Continue to  contribute to your groups and join other groups to share your knowledge with industry leaders. You’ve become well-known in LinkedIn circles; you’re respected for your knowledge and are in prime position to further brand yourself as a social media expert.
  3. LinkedIn was part of your routine. You were on LinkedIn on a daily basis, connecting with new people, using the Companies feature to locate and get introduced to decision makers (remember the one who granted you the conversation?) Of course you attended personal networking events, but LinkedIn added to your overall networking in a big way.
  4. LinkedIn became a community. You met some great people who welcomed you to their network, exchanged messages with you, and encouraged you during your job search. Why would you give this up? LinkedIn is a community consisting of professionals with the same goal in mind, sharing information and social capital. You built some outstanding relationships.
  5. Your new company understands the importance of LinkedIn. The VP of marketing wants everyone in your group to be on LinkedIn to connect with potential business partners and customers. He also wants to enhance the image of the company. A company with employees who have great profiles is a company that means business. He’s looking to you to share what you know about using LinkedIn–you’re his expert.
  6. Continue to build your network for a rainy day. You were looking on LinkedIn for a job almost every day for the last three months, attending networking events, and connecting with people on a daily basis. Your online and personal networks are strong and served you well. Now, more than ever, you want to continue to build your networks for future job search activity. How does that saying go? The best time to network is when you’re working.

When you began your profile, struggled with making it strong, increased your activity, and really began to see its benefits; you never thought it would get you this far. You never thought you’d buy into it and be an evangelist of LinkedIn, spreading the word of its great attributes. Even though you landed, you still need to network on LinkedIn.

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

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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.

Job search tip #9: Knock on companies’ doors with approach letters

In the last entry we looked at making your company list. Today we’ll examine knocking on companies’ doors by using approach letters.

The other day during a résumé critique one of my customers told me how he had been networking. Something was in the works with a company as a result of him being proactive and knocking on the company’s door. Not literally; although, that’s a viable option. He had sent an approach letter to one of the directors at the company asking for an informational meeting, which then lead to further consideration.

Of course a phone call might have been quicker for my customer than sending a letter, but he felt sending an approach letter was right for him. (By the way, using LinkedIn’s Search Companies feature is a great way to find people at companies.)

For you jobseekers who lean more toward introversion, an approach letter may also feel more comfortable than calling a director, VP, or an individual contributor. There’s more to an approach letter, though, than simply sending an e-mail telling the person that you’d like to get together with her to meet for a short meeting.

With the approach letter, first you’ll research the company so you can write intelligently about why you’d like to meet. You’ll write highly of the company, selling the company to the recipient of your letter. This will show your enthusiasm. It will also show you took the time to visit the company’s website, read articles in the newspaper, and used other methods to research the company. This is the first step you’ll take to impress the recipient.

Next you’ll throw in some kudos about yourself. What makes it worth her while to meet with you? You gained some valuable skills when you worked at the medical device company in their marketing department. You’ll write about the accomplishments you had, like authoring press releases that drew the attention of many of the media, spearheading a direct mail campaign that garnered new business beyond what the company had achieved.

Don’t forget to indicate that you’ll call the recipient. Set a date and exact time. If the person picks up the phone or you have to leave a voice-mail, be ready to explain why you’d like to meet with her. You would like some information on a position you’re pursuing. You’d also like to share some knowledge of competitors or the industry.

What follows could be a networking meeting or maybe good timing on your part—there may actually be a job the company’s trying to fill, unbeknownst to other jobseekers searching the Internet for advertised positions. This is precisely why you don’t want to simply send an e-mail without laying out your skills that make you ideal for a possible job in the company.

The only thing left to do is picking up the phone and asking the recipient if she received your letter. Following up is the last component of sending an approach letter. Even if talking on the phone terrifies the heck out of you, at least you have gotten in your message without having to deliver it cold. You’re compelling writing has wooed the recipient into wanting to know more about you.

In the next article, we’ll look at using LinkedIn to network on line.

Job search tip #8: Make your company list

Last week we looked at creating a contact list and starting to network. Now we’ll look at making a list of companies for which you’d like to work.

When you buy a pair of athletic shoes, do you research the brands, consider where you’ll buy them, and decide on an acceptable price? Or do you go into any store and buy the first pair of shoes you see at any price? If you’re a smart shopper, you’ll plan before you act.

The same attitude of a smart shopper applies to a smart jobseeker. One important step you must take is to research companies for which you’d like to work. I often ask my jobseekers if they have a list of companies they’re researching and if they’re taking action.

Let’s examine the steps you need to take and why it’s important to make your company list.

Google it. As a jobseeker, you understand the necessity of a search engine. First decide what market/s you’d like to pursue. I googled Data Storage in the Boston, Massachusetts, area and came up with 22 companies within a 25 mile radius. EMC, Dell, HP, Genzyme, Iron Mountain, TJX, and other big boys were some of the companies that popped up.

Check your local business journal. The Boston Business Journal is a wealth of information on up-and-coming companies. Large corporations, as well as start-ups, are mentioned in this publication. You’ll read good news along with not so good news. Pay attention to the companies that are showing growth and add them to your list. Your local journal will also have a People Section that will give you insight as to promotions, departures, and, of course, possible hiring opportunities.

Use your network. One of your best resources may be the Mavens who attend networking events and sit in the corner, where they shout out leads to companies that are hiring. From those contacts you’ll learn of other companies that are hiring or in the process of hiring. Your list of bona fide companies will grow longer and longer as time goes on.

Expand your list. Start small and grow your list. Five is a good number to begin with, and continue to grow your list by five every week. While you’re growing your list you’ll spend more time at your computer researching your companies. Of course you’ll check out the career section of each company, but some of your most valuable information will come from press releases, annual reports, stock news, etc.

Why is creating your list and researching companies important?

You’re being proactive and penetrating the hidden job market. Instead of spending countless hours on the Internet searching for advertised positions, you’re taking steps to penetrate the hidden job market. Experts assert that 80% of all jobs are hidden, so identifying companies that are showing growth will confirm that they’ll be hiring in the near future. And who will they want to hire? That’s right, the people who work there or referrals from the people who work there. Trust is a powerful thing.

You’re on your way to being known by your targeted companies. At this point you’re an unknown, a stranger coming off the street. Making connections at your companies won’t be easy (certainly not as easy as blasting off hundreds of cookie-cutter résumés) but the rewards will be great and you’ll benefit from the connections you’ve made for the rest of your career. You’ll become a known commodity.

You’ll be seen as someone who takes initiative. Does a smile spread across your face when the neighborhood kid comes to your door asking if he can shovel your driveway? He’s showing initiative. Your initiative will come in the form of knocking on companies’ doors, just like the neighborhood kid. You may be the extraverted type who will call companies and ask for an informational meeting, or you may be more introverted and prefer writing approach letters, professional profile sheets, and sending them to hiring authorities.

Next Friday we’ll look at knocking at companies’ doors using an approach letter.

 

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.

 

12 P’s for productive networking

P Words

The reason why 12 laminated,  8.5″ x 11″ pieces of paper–all with one word beginning with the letter P–are hanging on a wall in a room in our career center is because I am a Procrastinator.

These 12 words are related to productive networking. Procrastinate isn’t one of them, by the way.

Had I been more diligent, I would have had a big ass poster with all these 12 P words designed and produced by a print shop. The poster I envision will hang where our networking group meets.

Tasked with the job of writing a code of conduct, I decided that simply listing words would be more effective than handing the participants a document that describes how one should act while attending the group.

A colleague and I decided that words beginning with the letter P cover a great deal of behaviors and attitudes expected from networkers. Here are the P words networkers should use while they’re networking at any networking event.

  1. Positive: How could this word not be included? Networkers, despite their feelings, should act positive, not negative. People would rather surround themselves with positive-acting folks. If you’re one who believes in self-fulfilling prophesies, this is one.
  2. Persevere: When you feel like it’s not working and are wavering between going or not going to a networking event, perseverance will urge you on. Keep attending the group until you’ve exhausted all opportunities, or landed a job!
  3. Professional: This one encompasses many other traits, but overall marks you as positive and respected by others, and speaks to how you dress and conduct yourself at an event. Great practice for the entire job search.
  4. Participate: What’s the sense of attending a networking event if you’re going to sit in a corner or leave as soon as the Leads and Needs session is over? Approach people who may be sitting by themselves, and make them feel welcome.
  5. Polite: Being polite means not interrupting others or dominating the conversations. Listen to others as good networkers would. Saying, “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” can go along well.
  6. Prepare: This word also applies to the entire job search. You must be prepared for the interview, and you must be prepared to contribute to the networking event. This means bringing your target company list and leads for others.
  7. Personal: Show your personality at a networking event but make sure it’s appropriate for the event. Be yourself, relaxed, easy to speak with, friendly. A smile goes a long way, so show your pearly whites–this shows your welcome to be approached.
  8. Present: This can include the way you dress and how you come across while delivering your elevator pitch, or simply talking to others. There are those who dress like they mean business, and others who might be in their household attire. Who’ll be taken more seriously?
  9. Punctual: Being late is rude and shows a lack of time management. Would you be late to a job interview? Then don’t show up late for the networking event.
  10. Promote: Not only should networkers promote themselves in a tactful manner; they should promote each other. When introducing a fellow networker to a member of the group, speak highly of that person.
  11. Progress: Strive for progress. This can mean setting goals to meet three new people at an event every time you go, or if you like to mingle, come away with 10 business cards.
  12. Productive: The result of all these P words. You must be productive in your networking, or, for lack of better words, it ain’t worth it.

The words that hang on the wall in our room are a great reminder of how one should conduct their organized networking. Eventually–nay, soon–I’ll get around to having them made into a stunning poster or two. I don’t want to wear the letter P on my chest for eternity; it standing for Procrastination.

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