Friday, February 27, 2009

Laid Off? Effective Networking to Your Next Position!

Are you tired of posting to the black holes on the Internet? You know them – tantalizing job titles and job postings where no one ever answers other than the automated thank you response.

RecruiterGuy says stand up and take control of your search! All too often candidates try the easy route to finding a job – simply get on the Internet and post their resume to dozens of companies at a time. Unfortunately after all of those postings you never received a call. Then frustration sets in and you find yourself complaining that it’s all a waste of time – and then you do it again tomorrow and the next day.

Please understand that Internet job postings are essentially automated newspaper ads. The beauty of the Internet from a company perspective is that instead of having to handle each resume that is mailed or faxed in, the Internet response never needs to be handled. That line should give you something to think about. Now you know why you never received a call.

There are some companies out there that are excellent recruiting machines. However in my experience, most companies are trying to recruit the same way they always had, without really learning that Recruiting Is Sales. Chances are most of them are the companies that you have not heard from. Isn’t amazing that you sometimes do not hear from companies even after you told them in your inquiry that you are a happy client? Recruiting Is Sales!

What is the most effective way to network for a new position?

The first step is to develop your “Here I am Speech”. This is also known as an elevator speech. It needs to come from your heart and give a quick snapshot of your background, your current situation and what you want to do next. It shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.

Once you are comfortable with what you will tell contacts, it is important to develop a list of people to contact. Don’t limit that list to those who know you well. Include any people who know who you are. Your list could include people from your former employer who know your work ethic (could be a double edged sword), friends, neighbors, people from church, a store, your bank. How about the parents of your children’s friends? Include everyone, the more the better. During a job search, your most important commodity is names and phone numbers, particularly referred names and phone numbers. Develop a spreadsheet of everyone you know, including all acquaintances, phone number, and where they work (if you know). Develop a second spreadsheet of companies that you have targeted. Finally if you have a LinkedIn network, identify people you want to contact who are in that network, some of these are your “cold calls”. Use the LinkedIn network to meet the people who may be instrumental to setting up an interview with you.

In a serious job search you need to faithfully call at least 4 new contacts per day for 3 months. If you do, the law of averages will work in your favor and you will most likely receive an offer. Now you know why names and their phone numbers are your most important commodities. Do the math. If you do not faithfully call those numbers of people, it will take you longer to find a job – unless you are very lucky.

When you call your first contacts, tell them the reason for your call (networking) and ask if you can take a minute to tell them about your background. Now give them your “Here I am Speech”. Then ask them who they recommend that you talk with next. I guarantee that if you just ask them if they have an opening at their company, their knee jerk response 98% of the time will be “No”. Try to get at least 4 or 5 peoples’ names and numbers from each person that you call. These are your warm referrals. They may say they don’t know anyone. Then ask “Who do you know at abc company?” or “Do you know anyone who lives down south (or anywhere)?” Remember the 6 degrees of separation. Asking the latter question may help you get to a different part of the country without knowing anyone there yourself.

What is a “warm referral”? When someone calls you and says that a friend or business acquaintance gave them your name and number, you are more open to receiving the call, right? Not only that, you do not want to disappoint your friend so you try to help that caller. That’s why you seek warm referrals. A person that you call out of the blue may not even take your call. If they do take your call, they may not be as likely to help you (You still should make cold calls because they can lead to more warm referrals!!!).

Importantly, what else could happen after you give your “Here I Am Speech”? They could ask you “Are you interviewing with us?” Ahh, music to my ears! That’s the response that you may seek. If you are not interviewing with them, ask them who you should contact within their firm or if they would be willing to introduce you? This is how you network your way into a job.

One important note, by definition networking is a give and take. It is important to ask everyone if there is some information they need or where you can help them? It is also important that you let them know if you were successful as a result of one of their referrals. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked for my help (for free) and never got back to me when they found a job. This is a common courtesy that people will remember.

Now that you know how, Good Luck Networking!

My next blog is about your Interview.