Why You Should Be Networking with Strangers

Sometimes, it is more effective to network with people that you do NOT know, in order to get results. Sounds confusing because we think of networking as approaching people that we already know. And, if you have read my blog, you already know that I constantly encourage job seekers to grow their network and focus on the relationships. However, this story is about another level of networking and relationships. Read on to see what I mean.

Jessica (fictitious name but true story) was getting depressed about her job search. As a high level Marketing Manager, she had created award-winning marketing communications that elevated the visibility of her company. Not only did she manage project teams in executing creative solutions, but she also enjoyed hands-on graphic design work and had growing experience in social media messaging. When she found herself out of work, everything changed.

After looking for many months, she updated her résumé and adjusted her search with a willingness to take on junior level positions if needed.  But she was not getting results either. We spent time creating different versions of her résumé to more effectively target various positions. After quite some time, things were remaining quiet on the job front and Jessica was understandably worried. So, we brainstormed on how to deal with this.

In addition to working on relationships, Jessica pursued a powerful strategy of targeting specific key people (via LinkedIn, professional associations, and suggestions from friends) in organizations she wanted to work for and engaged them in assisting her with information. She would ask anything from info about what is happening in the department right now or soliciting their input about a current opening and what type of candidate they were seeking. 

It took a while, but finally her phone started ringing off the hook. Jessica told me she eventually received many calls, interviews, and a couple offers…all from people developed in her network. One company – the lucky winner who hired Jessica – reached out to her already knowing she had a job offer and offered her more money.

Job searching is exhausting and sometimes gets depressing. If you are feeling discouraged or as if you have tried everything, I hope Jessica’s story will inspire you to keep persisting. Follow her example and begin networking in a targeted way and you will also start to make things happen.

So think about it — who do you NOT know that you could be engaging?  

10 seconds to influence hiring decisions? Write a thank you note!

You can move forward more rapidly in your job search by utilizing every opportunity to send a letter, email, or voicemail message to a potential employer and to your networking leads (…without being a stalker of course!). Think about it – you meet with someone, and later drop a quick email saying “Nice meeting you for coffee today – I appreciated your suggestions about my job search.” It would take you about 10 seconds to write this and click send, right? What do you think the reaction will be from the recipient? He will have a nice surprise note in their email that is short and appreciative of their time. He feels good about the note and good about you!

This thank you effort can be a key influencing factor following a job interview. Sending a note (via snail mail or email) is an opportunity to show your initiative, to emphasize a critical point about your background, to mention one more thing about your strengths which may not have come up during the interview.  The employer who received your note is impressed with your timely note and comments. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of candidates send a thank you letter after an interview. So, this makes your note stand out even more so!

How can you look polished with regard to post job interview notes? Be sure to ask for a business card so you have the spelling of their name, and correct email or snail mail address. The letter should be brief and if handwritten –  legible. Start by thanking them for the opportunity to interview and convey your excitement about the position. Then mention one or two key points – perhaps something in particular about the job that you were enthusiastic about, or emphasizing how you feel you could make a contribution to the team. Close with a simple statement indicating that you enjoyed the meeting and hope to hear back soon. Be sure to include your email address and phone number. Just think – this small effort could be the key to getting an offer!

Don’t Blame the Economy!

You are a recent graduate who just can’t seem to find a job. You may be motivated, have received excellent grades and have committed to multiple internships, so you can’t figure out why the job search process isn’t any easier! It’s often hard to pinpoint exactly where something is going wrong, but founder Kathryn Sollmann (9 Lives for Women blog) highlights some great areas to examine in her recent post titled “7 Reasons Why Jane Has No Job.”

 Kathryn, who met a “bright and accomplished 2011 college grad who has not yet found a job,” discovered that there were at least 7 reasons why this grad’s job search had stalled. Surprisingly, none of them have to do with the poor job market! Keep reading for some crucial areas to work on.

 Most people think that they can look for a job effectively while doing many other things. But Kathryn points out that “finding a job is truly a full-time job. You have to spend at least 40 hours a week on your search to get any significant action. Keep non-search activities to 20 hours a week. If you can’t afford to limit the temp job, make sure that you’re maximizing your job search time in the evenings and on weekends”

 Similarly, many jobseekers have difficulty networking properly. I always recommend the importance of making industry contacts and building relationships, but many college grads may be doing this in a non-meaningful way. Kathryn writes “there are benefits to networking meetings, but success depends if you just happen to meet the right person. Limit in person networking to one or two events a month that are targeted to a desired industry— “

Beyond maximizing networking events, some people are reluctant to utilize other social gatherings as means of networking. According to Kathryn, her college grad “needs to extend her networking circles and think about people she knows from every aspect of her life (schools, clubs, religious affiliations, sports groups, etc.).” Every time a recent grad is socializing, he or she should also be thinking about ways to network! You never know when the right person comes along that might have the job or connection you need to get your foot in the door.

 Kathryn discusses many other essential job-searching tricks in her post, such as creating a job search strategy, using LinkedIn correctly, and maintaining energy in communication. Read more of Kathryn’s wonderful advice and ensure that you are job-hunting most effectively and efficiently.

9 LIves for Women Blog:  http://9livesforwomen.com/2013/02/08/7-reasons-why-jane-has-no-job/

Special thanks to contributing editor, Leora Kanner

Job Hunting during the Holidays?! You bet!

Do you tend to stop all job search activity from Thanksgiving to the New Year? If so, you may be missing out on job opportunities. Many people think that hiring stops during the holiday season, so they halt all searching. While recruiting does tend to slow down during this time, open jobs are out there and there is less competition since so many people believe this myth! So your odds of being noticed actually increase! Even more importantly, there are extensive opportunities to network with the right people and to do so while they are in a holiday mood of helping others.

 

Holiday parties abound and while you may not feel in the party mood, the inside scoop is that this is an opportunity to develop relationships that can foster job leads.  Here are some ideas of things you can do:

 

  • HOLIDAY PARTIES: Be a “detective” learning about what others are doing and what is going on at their company. Maintain your professional demeanor in your attire and be careful to lay off drinks so that your behavior is appropriate. Use the opportunity to introduce your expertise, but do so in a nonaggressive way. Find out what you can do to help others, as you will be remembered for this. 
  • PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: Are you a member of these live / face-to-face groups? If not, find out about them. You should be attending their holiday meetings (and regular programs!) as well as using the opportunity to grow and deepen your network. Get involved on committees and projects – demonstrate your value to other professionals in your field.
  • FAMILY EVENTS: Do family members really know what you do and that you are exploring your options? Be sure key people are aware, though again, be appropriate and non-pushy at holiday time.
  • CONSIDER SEASONAL OPPORTUNITIES: These temporary positions bring in extra income when finances are tight and provide opportunity to show recent employment experience if you have not worked in a while. Sometimes, such opportunities can lead to additional work or leads.  
  • SEND HOLIDAY CARDS: Remember to keep in touch with your existing network and send out cards that help them keep you in mind.

 

 What else should you do? Try to relax and do things that you enjoy. This will rejuvenate the way you feel and will help you to exude positive vibes and self-assurance when you meet others. Employers love candidates who seem high energy and confident about their abilities. Happy Holidays!