Tag: executive level networking
Working with executive recruiters is one of the primary ways top executives find their next opportunity. Here are a few tips from the top retained recruiting firms that place senior executives and those seeking BOD positions.
- Make sure you match up your skills and industry with their specialty for best results – although many major recruiting firms cover most industries.
- Don’t worry about geography. Recruiters are primarily industry specialists and will have clients everywhere.
- Send them a great resume in PDF format. They may ask for a word version, or ask you to upload your resume into their database or fill out a form on their website (someone has to do it) as well. You can take a look at some of our executive resume samples here.
- Call. It takes more time to call, but your call will be worth it. Ask the person answering the phone for someone specifically or the recruiter who is in charge of your industry (e.g., the recruiter that specializes in general operations searches, or construction, or healthcare, etc.). Have what you want to say written out. Note that you should call before sending your resume if you are in a confidential or passive search.
If you have not sent your resume:
“Hi, this is ____ and I am a(n) ____. I am calling to introduce myself. I am in a (highly confidential – tell them if you are!) career transition and I wanted to reach out to you personally because I understand that you specialize in my industry. May I send you my resume? I would welcome a conversation if you feel I am a good match for any of your open searches.”
If you have sent your resume:
“Hi this is ____. I sent my resume in last week and wanted to follow up with a phone call to briefly introduce myself and to find out if you have any open searches in the ____ industry that I might be a good potential candidate for.”
If you want or need more tips on networking, phone and email scripts, I provide step-by-step templates in my online store.
- Understand what motivates recruiters to pitch you their best client company job openings.
- Have excellent marketing material and learn how to interview so they don’t have to train you.
- Act professionally on the phone and in person.
- If you say something that sounds an alarm, the client company will typically tell the recruiter. The recruiter may or may not divulge this to you, because it’s a slippery slope.
- Rehearse your interviews and understand what the right and wrong things to say are. Speak to the recruiter professionally; don’t confide, even if pressed or if you are buddies with the recruiter. They are not working for you, they are working for the company. You can find some tips on C-level interviewing here.
Networking is one of those dreaded and feared activities that every executive job seeker has to face throughout their career. However, it’s also well known that over 50% of jobs are landed through some form of networking!
Here are 5 tips to get you started in your networking success:
Tip 1: Stand Up and Smile
When networking on the phone, stand up and smile! No kidding; it improves your tone and your energy level.
Tip 2: Create a Simple Script
Create a short, simple script for when you are at a networking event or following up on the phone, and practice it out loud a few times. You will be amazed how much more comfortable and confident you will feel with this extra foundation of support!
Tip 3: Make a List
Create a list of everyone you know that might have information on your industry of choice. Your list can include friends, associates, family, people you worship with and people with whom you do business, such as your banker, CPA or realtor. This is my favorite network because I am their customer and people in service industries completely understand the benefits of networking.
Tip 4: Social Networking
Even if you are not on LinkedIn or Facebook, it’s never too late to sign up! You will be amazed how quickly you can build a network, join groups and get the word out through social networking.
Tip 5: Don’t Ask For a Job
Networking is best done in a diplomatic way that puts the focus of interest on the person you are talking to. This is primarily true when meeting someone for the first time, but also when asking to be mentored by someone in an industry you want to get into.
When you are networking with your friends and associates in order to gather information, be sure that you are only asking whether they know of anyone in your industry who may be able to give you some guidance. This takes the pressure off of them and increases your positive responses.
Then if you show up (so to speak) the job interviews will come.
Want more great tips and strategies for networking? Checkout my popular online program “Savvy Networking Secrets for Executives.”
Why would a CEO, COO, CMO, CFO or other CXO need to have a LinkedIn profile? That is a good question. Many very high-level / high-visibility C-level executives don’t have a LinkedIn profile. Perhaps this is due to concerns about overexposure. While I certainly understand that concept, the opportunity to leverage your network – whether you are a VP, SVP or C-level executive – has incredible benefits when you do it correctly.
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your C-level LinkedIn profile:
Adjust Your Settings & Privacy
I suggest that my clients change the setting for “Who can see your connections” to “Only you.”
This way, your company and your competition cannot see who you are connected to. Overall I think that is a smart move.
The other settings worth noting are what others can view in your public profile. I like to have enough general information show up so if another key decision-maker or executive recruiter saw and liked your profile and wanted to reach out to you, they could. Showing your Summary statement (which should include some contact information) should be enough.
I like to have an email and maybe even a phone number at the very beginning of the Summary statement. This ensures that people who may be visiting your profile can reach out to you, even if they may be outside of your first- or second-degree network of connections. If you are open to new opportunities, there is no reason to broadcast it, since you can very easily give someone a way to reach out to you!
Worried about privacy? No problem! Set up a new Gmail account with a variation of your name or something that is business-friendly and use that email in your LinkedIn Summary statement.
When deciding on your keyword headings, think about what a recruiter or other key decision-maker might be looking for when searching for someone like you. List any advanced degrees, splashy awards, high-level certifications, or size/scope information, such as “Fortune 500 Companies,” “Fast Growth Start-Ups” or “International Expansions.” If you are looking to change industries, think of how broad your industry choice can be without looking as if you are searching for another opportunity.
Depth & Breadth
Most resume writers agree that LinkedIn profiles are best written in first-person informal. Generally speaking, the details in your profile should not be covered as thoroughly as they are in your executive resume. A good rule of thumb is to add just enough detail to create intrigue. Your profile should never, in my professional opinion, broadcast that you are looking for another opportunity.
Grow Your Network
When you grow your network with recruiters and key decision-makers across a few industries and divisions, you are creating a network that can be leveraged. For example, several years ago my husband was complaining that his LinkedIn connections were almost nonexistent. He is in the wine business, so I suggested he find those in “his tribe” through direct searches and LinkedIn groups and invite them into his network. Within 45 days my husband had over 400 of the most powerful global connections of suppliers, distributors, wineries, vintners, wine-recruiters, HR directors and high-profile critics in the wine industry. He regularly receives important information and job solicitations.
The takeaway is that I advocate thinking of your LI network as a tool to connect with like-minded professionals. Personally, I don’t believe you have to “know” these contacts before you invite them. Rather I believe in connecting across industries and disciplines to form a solid foundation with short- and long-term benefits. If a recruiter or other key decision-maker is looking for someone with your skills and abilities and you are NOT in their first or second-degree network, then you will not show up in their search results.
Have you read an insightful industry article in FORBES that you agree with? Did you recently attend or, even better, speak at an industry conference? Attend or help lead a community event? Why not share that in your activity feed? Articles are another great way to share your insight, and including pictures or videos will make them more clickable. Remember to keep it all business! This is an excellent way to solidify your brand and thought leadership within your network.
Although there are many other optimization and design tips that are important to know, these tips are great starting points to get you using LinkedIn as a tool that will give you market leverage and solidify your branding message.
It’s my personal opinion that the best way to approach anyone when networking during your executive job search – no matter what your relationship with them – is to ask them for their opinion or expertise. This is because most of us find it enjoyable to be asked what our opinion is and most of us enjoy helping people. It’s these two things you must focus on when leveraging your network during your job search.
It’s not very effective to ask people for a job, if their company is hiring, or if they know of any other companies who are hiring. First, not many people are aware of various companies that are hiring and most people will find this kind of question loaded with “pressure,” which causes them to back off rather than open up the conversation to brainstorming ways they might help you. Second, it places them as the leader in the conversation and you as the passive receiver, which also creates pressure. There are other reasons that asking for a job does not work, but these are two of the main factors.
Mentally, you need to approach networking in the following ways:
- You must accept and understand how asking for information is going to benefit you. Have a basic understanding of networking and how it can work to propel your conversations. Give those you are speaking to a gracious opening to share confidential information with you about company growth or available jobs, without having to point blank ask them for it. Understand how you can easily ask your network to introduce you to others who might help you.
- You must accept and understand that you are NOT being sneaky and really just asking for a job under the guise of “networking.” If you don’t come to grips with this, you will find yourself saying and doing things that put this seed in the other person’s mind. You ARE networking, NOT job searching, and you must separate the two. You can then approach your networking contact with a lot of authentic positive enthusiasm in the true spirit of asking for their expertise. Most always they will respond by giving you more than what you asked for in help and support.
I should point out that the one area you want to avoid asking for help and advice about is your resume. The various answers you will elicit based on the vantage point of each person is going to be so varied that it will confuse you and shake your confidence. If you want feedback on your resume, please ask a qualified, certified resume writer for an objective, professional review.
The following is a great script for networking with friends and associates. Note how the approach supports your position as leader and as someone who is both confident and knows how to take initiative. This particular script is ideal if you are exploring alternative industries, but it can be easily modified to work as well when staying within your industry – simply say you are conducting a little due diligence on market and economic indicators of the ____ industry in preparation for an upcoming job search.
I have stepped back and looked at my career for the past 6 months and have determined there are a few industries that would be a good fit for me. They are ______ and ______. Model organizations that probably fit are ______, ______ and ______. Do you know anyone I could talk with for a few minutes to get some mentoring as I continue to gather info on these industries?
Here are a few additional tips to help you network successfully:
Keywords and Phrases that Make a BIG Impact
- I would be very grateful for any mentoring you may be open to giving me.
- Is there any way I can return the favor of your time and expertise?
- I would love to garner your expertise on …
Keywords and Phrases to Avoid
- I am looking for a job.
- Do you know anyone who may be looking to hire?
- I am looking at hiring trends and want to talk to you about …
The Wrong Approach
- Abrasive, possibly frustrated.
- Not networking, feeling entitled, or feeling like you are asking too much of or inconveniencing the person you are talking to.
- Venting on the person you are speaking with because you have not been eliciting the attention you believe you should have.
Tips for networking and informational interview calls:
The Right Approach
- Friendly, informal, don’t talk too much.
- Peer-to-peer or executive-to-executive networking.
- Can you help me? Could I “interview you” as the expert in your industry?
If you would like more help with job search networking please see my e-books here.
As you network, you will at some point inevitably be faced with a “gatekeeper” – an administrative assistant whose job is to screen people that call their boss. Some of these secretaries and administrators are REALLY good at what they do! Here are some tried and true tactics for getting PAST them FAST.
Front-Load Your Introduction
Gatekeepers are used to a certain pace in their phone conversations. It creates what I call an “autopilot” response. However, if that script is changed, they have to go off autopilot and many times it takes them off guard for a second. If you are confident, you can use this to get by them.
Front-loading your introduction to break the autopilot response:
The Gatekeeper: Hello, Mr. Smith’s office.
You: Hello, this is Mark Jackson from Ciley Corporation calling for Mr. Smith please.
The Gatekeeper: Um, who may I say is calling again, sorry?
You: Again, this is Mark Jackson from Ciley Corporation calling for Mr. Smith, please.
Getting past the gatekeeper: Continue reading
Here are a few tips that are really important for you to integrate into your networking to heighten your success:
1. When you are networking you are networking, not job searching. This is the most important piece of information I have for you. Networking and job searching are two different activities! You must embrace that and accept that. You are networking for information, mentoring, and to ask for additional networking contacts. If you do it right, not only will you get all these things – which can and will help you tremendously in your career search – but you will probably get “solicited” by potential employers who are interested in you and will ask for your resume. It is always the stronger position to be pursued.
2. In order to network correctly you must already have a clear focus of direction. The spirit in which so many people approach networking is “help!!!” – which neither party enjoys. When you network, do you ask your contact things like, “Is your company hiring?” or “Do you know of any companies that are hiring?” If you do, you are severely limiting that contact’s ability to help you and also putting pressure on that person, which is one of the main reasons why people hate to network. However, if you have an industry and position in mind, you can share THAT with your contact. First of all, it makes you look like you have your act together, and second, it opens up a much broader conversation that does not involve putting pressure on the person, and instead focuses on asking them for their advice, mentoring and opinions. People are generally more comfortable with these conversations and find it flattering that you would ask for their mentoring and advice.
3. When networking, say something like: “I have stepped back and looked at my career for the past 6 months and I have determined a few industries I believe would be a good fit for me. They are ______, and ______. Do you know anyone in those industries I could talk with for a few minutes to get some mentoring as I continue to research these industries?”
4. Remember that when you seek mentoring, that is all you are seeking – mentoring, information and helpful advice. If they know of any jobs, growing companies or they are hiring themselves, let THEM offer this information to YOU – not the other way around! This allows them the satisfaction of helping you on their terms and retains your dignity and increases your desirability.
5. When you are networking never, ever, ever bring your resume with you. If they ask for your resume and you have one during your networking meeting, you will look as disingenuous as you will feel. Tell them you would be happy to send it to them by hard mail or email.
If you want more information on how to network, click here to see my e-book series.