Tag: Networking Mistakes
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.
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.
I truly understand that in today’s world of instant information it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and maybe a little callous. Kind of like giving a hard time to telemarketers that call our homes around dinner time. It is easy to forget it is a human being just trying to make a living on the other end of the line. Perhaps someone’s son or daughter trying to pay their way through college.
A long time ago I decided I was going to do everything I could to be NICE—REALLY nice, to everyone I spoke with—no matter what the circumstances and whether I knew them or not.
Because in my career, I have been on the other end of the stick many times.
And something that just happened to me this morning REMINDED me of my commitment and how important it is for us all to be gracious when we network.
But first let’s go waaayyy back to my days as an executive recruiter. As a job seeker, you will bend over backward to have a good conversation with a recruiter right? Well as a recruiter who continuously had to cold call and have conversations with employed executives—sometimes my call would elicit hostility. Executives would tell me “DON’T CALL ME AGAIN!” or would grill me “HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER?!” or, “I AM NOT INTERESTED IN ANY OF YOUR JOBS!!”
It always amazed me. And often a year or two later many of those executives would call me for help because they found themselves in a job search. You can imagine how “eager” I was to help place them with one of my beloved client companies.
Which leads me to this morning’s incident. Interestingly, a recruiter had requested to connect with me on LinkedIn—which I accepted. I always send follow up email to my new connections to thank them for reaching out to connect and I invite them to sign up for my free newsletter. This particular recruiter emailed me back and said “TAKE ME OFF YOUR LIST IMMEDIATELY!” I decided to personally email her back and explain she was a connection, and I had simply invited her to sign up for my e-zine with a link.
Here is what my new LinkedIn connection wrote back: “LET ME REPHRASE: DON’T SEND ME ANY MORE EMAILS!!”
I promptly removed this recruiter from my LinkedIn connections.
This is a PERFECT example of what we should never, ever do. As we network, we simply can’t afford to be rude or mean. So . . . here are some networking tips I have found very useful that I would like to share with you:
- In your career, strive to be nice to EVERYBODY no matter their station or basis of relationship. You just never know when the tables may turn and who wants to spread bad energy around?
- If you must say NO to somebody, do so as graciously and professionally as possible.
- If someone or something around you is negative, cut off communication, if possible. Leaders and professionals who are serious about their careers protect their inner circle and filter the information they “let in.”
- When networking, think: “How can I help?” If you will always lead with thinking about the other person, you will be showing them honor and respect and they will repay you naturally in kind. Long term, this is the true core of networking. It doesn’t matter if your connection is in person, on LinkedIn, Facebook, or phone . . . strive for consistency in all you do.
- If someone you are talking to is rude or negative—do not get defensive. This includes all the things that can potentially happen to you in a job search such as someone promising they will call you, or invite you back for an interview, but never do.
- Find a mentor who holds a high visibility position—one whose personality you admire—and then emulate them. If you are lucky enough to know several executive mentors, you will start to see a pattern. Leaders/Mentors generally have a certain likeability . . . a charisma, if you will, for various reasons—some are attractive because they are fair and do the right thing, others because they want to foster the potential in you, and still others because they are warm and kind.
- Whomever you are speaking to, try to find a positive thing about that person that you can complement him or her on. Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to someone new, I LOVE figuring out what that one thing is that I can compliment them on. Sometimes it is their photo, other times it is something about their voice, their personality, or their career. This becomes a good habit and you will find yourself focusing on the positive more versus the negative in your daily dealings with others.
- If you make a practice of focusing on and helping others, at some point you may feel used or that you have not gotten back what you have put in. This goes with the territory. Don’t let it deter you from your course to develop a good reputation, overall virtue, and will ultimately make you a better person.
I feel fortunate that I have been humbled by the above types of experiences over the years because it gives me an excuse to take a bad thing and turn it around to reflect something positive. I hope you can take one thing from the list above and share the love.