Category Archives: Networking

Networking 101- Know What you Want

Last week was super interesting. I met a bunch of new people and went to some neat events.  I learned a lot of new information and while it was fun (and just a bit glamorous), I am not sure anything else will come of it.

I am at a point in my life where, if I am doing a “business” thing, it had better result in some value.  I am not expecting every lunch to bring me a million dollars but it should at least give me a new connection or gem of info that I can leverage into something of value.

My lunch date on Thursday helped me understand this.  He said that he is often approached to help out someone from his alma mater or a former colleague.  His door is always open but he finds it frustrating when people are not clear what they want or need from him.

He said that if he is going invest time, then there needs to be something he can actually do for the person. He said these encounters are best when the person says “Thanks for spending some time with me.  I am here at point A and in order to get to point B, I need an introduction to this person who is between me and point B. Can you help with that?”

That direction allows him to agree to the intro and to put some context and advice around it.  Everyone walks away feeling good.

See?  No commercial value there but there is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped in a concrete fashion.

That lightning bolt made me realize that I need to spend time planning what I want from an event/conversation/meeting.  This week, I have prepared for each of my meetings by using his formula.

I am at point A and I want to get to point B.  You can help me by doing this and/or this.

Of course, the conversation covers more ground, but I am work hard to keep my goal/outcome in mind as we meander through the civilities and humour and interruptions.

What strategies do you use to get what you need?

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Filed under career change, Networking

Yay! A holiday party!

I don’t know about you but the next two weeks on my calendar are sprinkled with pot lucks, lunches and cocktails. This is generally the time of year where I roll my eyes and find other things to do.

But this year is going to be different. I am looking at each get together as an opportunity to learn new things.

I am going to try not to gossip about people in other departments or complain about the weather. Instead, I am going to share positive and interesting stuff about my work.

For example, when someone asks me how things are going, my response is not going to be “so busy”. Of course I am busy. Everyone is busy. We would not have jobs if we were not busy.

Instead I am going to talk about one of the search projects I am working on. This opens the door for much more interesting conversation than “I am so busy”.

I am also going to avoid asking about people’s plans for the holidays. There are lots of people who are not going skiing in the Swiss Alps or dining with celebrities. While it can be fun to hear about those adventures, it can be depressing too.

I am going to ask about Netflix instead.  I plan on some heavy binge watching over the holidays and I need some recommendations.

If I can stick to this plan, I should be able to come away from this holiday season with lots of new ideas and information which will be an excellent foundation for my big plans in the next decade.

Cheers!

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Filed under Job Search, Networking

Job Journey: How to Apply for the Job You Really Want

If you are lucky enough to know what you want to next, you don’t have to wait for it to be posted.

You can express your interest in ways other than the traditional application. This requires some research and perseverance but is likely to be worth it in the end.

Think about the role you want. What department is it in? Who leads the group? Who else interacts with the group or has overlapping activities? You can do most of this research on LinkedIn. Just search for people by company. Company is one of the boxes you can fill in on the Advanced Search page.

You can also check out the company web page to see who is listed there.

 

The next step is to figure out where you have connections. Perhaps some of the names were former colleagues? Maybe you belong to the same professional association? Any connection point will do.

A friend of mine got his last job from an introduction by one the parents he met at the arena during a hockey tournament.

The next bit is Networking 101. Reach out to say hello. See if they would be open to a conversation with you. Here is an opening line you can try: “You are obviously having great success with your organization. Would you be open to taking a few minutes to chatting about the culture?”

This will give you a chance to hear first hand about the organization and confirm that it is, in fact, the kind of place/department/group you want to join.

At some point in the conversation, the person will want to know why you are curious. That’s your cue to talk about yourself and your interest in a possible role. If the conversation has gone well, it is quite likely that they might offer to make an introductions for you. If they don’t offer, then put it out there yourself.

We can talk about how to follow up later but for now, do your research and get ready for the handshakes..

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Filed under Job Search, Networking, recruiter

Fix your Career by the New Year

Halloween is over and the rush to the end of the year has begun.  Things are going to get busy….really soon.  If you have career goals that are still hanging out there, this is the time to sit down and make a plan to move forward.

Whether you are looking for a promotion, transfer or something new altogether, now is the time to take action.

But where to start?

Make time – carve out 20 minutes every day to work on your objective – either block it in your calendar or make it the same time every day.

Make a list – who do you need to meet and how can you connect with them.  Email, voice mail, and LinkedIn are all options – decide what is most likely to get a response.

Reach out – start connecting with your targets and following up

Expand your network – send LinkedIn invitations to colleagues, neighbours and the guy you met at that thing last week.

Promote yourself – find articles that are relevant to what you do and post them on LinkedIn.  Your connections will see your content and be reminded of your expertise.

Send thank you notes – everyone appreciates being recognized and the good will that is generated will translate into all kinds of neat things.

Take calls from Headhunters – these calls can provide good market intel on your skills and what they are worth – don’t ignore us.

Apply to job postings – notice this is way down the list?  The best opportunities come from connections and good connections come from doing the work in the first place.  Don’t just rely on the application process.  It will rarely show you any love.

 

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Filed under career change, Job Search, linkedin, Networking, recruiter, Resume

Get off the Couch and Start Exploring

I had an interesting situation this week.  One of my candidates, who had been on a long and successful interview journey, ended up with several offers in his inbox.

He was really stressed.  He said he could not understand how this happened.  He was not even looking.  He really likes his job and his team. 

How did this happen?

First of all, he is an interesting and curious person.  When I told him about my client and what they needed to do, he thought it made sense to explore the opportunity.  He felt that it would allow him to build up his skills in a new area.

The first two interviews went really well.  He and a couple of senior managers had wide ranging conversations and he felt really good about it.

Guess what?  After that second interview, he was walking around with just a bit more confidence.  He had third party validation that he was doing some really good work in a really good way. 

It’s not as noticeable as a haircut or new glasses but that kind of confidence shows.

Seemingly out of the blue, he got a couple of networking requests and coffee invitations.  Those led to more casual conversations. Casual, because he had moved beyond the “interview panic prep” and into “this is just a business meeting”.

On top of that, his boss started to let him know about a some longer term projects that he be leading. 

To be clear:  he was not a disgruntled employee complaining about things at work.  No one was trying to placate him or keep him in order to get though the busy cycle.

I suggested that he look at multiple offers as a positive thing not a stressful thing.  It’s a successful measure of how he is navigating his path through the industry.

After weighing the teams, the work, the manager and the future possibilities, he chose.  I think he is going to be very happy. 

So, get off the merry-go-round of your job and take a look around.  Because looking when you are not looking may the best time to look.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, Networking

Job Change Prescription

If you are thinking about making a job change, consider the old adage:  fish where the fish are.

What is it that you want to do next and where are the people who are doing it now?  Better yet, who is doing it now and has a big problem?  The kind of problem that you know exactly how to fix.

Imagine you have decided that you want to move from the inside customer service team to an outside sales role.  You have been feeling hemmed in lately.  You really want to get out in field and get face to face with customers.

How about this?  Look for a company that has a product that’s the same or similar to yours and then drill down to find trouble.

Trouble could be in the form of a growth spike, a quality issue or wider market acceptance.  These challenges are pain points for company leaders.  Leaders want to relieve pain.  Figure out how to market yourself as the prescription.

An email message might say:

I have been listening to customers like yours for years.  I know what they need and how to package your product so that it provides a solution that fits.  Couldn’t you use someone like me in the field?

Just attach your resume and hit send.

There is certainly no guarantee that one email will start a conversation but it’s a good start.

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Filed under career change, Job Search, Networking

LinkedIn has a new look – this is not about that

Over the last few weeks, LinkedIn has rolled out their new “look”. I have read lots of good and bad things about but I am still experimenting with it so this is not about that. 

There is a feature that is often ignored but is quite brilliant for keeping in touch when you really don’t have anything to particular to share or ask.

When you go to the Notifications tab and scroll through the boxes, you will see the notes that let you say happy birthday or congratulations on a new job. I used to dismiss this as kitschy and not really of value.

Today, I was the recipient of a zillion birthday wishes and I can tell you it is not kitchy. I smiled with each and every incoming ping.

True, I don’t know everyone who took the time to message me but most of their names did ring a bell. As a sidebar, I also got two lunch dates out of it!

If you really do know the person, take a moment to personalize it, even if just a little. It will make it that much more meaningful.

This may not lead you to your next dream job but it will remind people of how thoughtful you are and that’s becoming a high value trait in many organizations. 

Best wishes for a great day whether it’s your birthday or not!

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Filed under Interview, Networking, social media