10 steps to effective job search networking

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I often hear job seekers ask how to network. Misperceptions have caused this valuable tool to not be used near enough. Networking is by far the most potent tool in your job search toolbox.

First, let’s start with what it’s not – networking is not simply connecting to someone you don’t know on LinkedIn by merely sending them an invite to connect. (I will explain later how linking is a small first step in the process) Second, networking is not about cold calling; picking up the phone and calling someone you don’t know. (There is a time when you can use this technique, but with the right foundation).

I have found networking to be fun. Seriously, with the right approach, networking is actually one of the most pleasurable parts of the job search. Further, once you learn how to network properly, you will never stop. And lastly, spending time at job search groups seeing the same people week after week will no longer be necessary.

While everyone looks for the one new technique to break through in their job search, the age old technique of networking effectively is your key to land your next job.

Here are 10 steps to make your networking extremely effective and create a break- through in your job search results:

  1. What vendors/firms have you worked with? The best place to start with networking is connecting with people you worked with who did business with your company. Having a finance background I met and interacted with dozens of people from banks, law firms, insurance companies and brokers, and auditors. I always kept in contact with them and when unemployed met them at their convenience to talk one-on-one.

    No doubt that you know someone at a company that did business with your firm. These people know key personnel at other firms and can be a great referral into other companies. Often these people know if another company is hiring or better yet, if someone just left a company. This gives you an edge to get your resume in first.

  2. Meet people anywhere – Strike up a conversation with someone everywhere you go; at the grocery store, at the gas station, in an elevator or with a neighbor – anywhere. Don’t start with explaining that you are unemployed and searching; rather, find out about them. What do they do? Where do they work? Make casual conversation. If you go around immediately discussing being unemployed, you will be similar to the life insurance salesmen everyone stays away from. Instead, get to know the other person. The more interest you show in them, then the more interest they will show in you.
  3. Meet everyone you can one-on-one – Once I ramped up my individual networking I had little time to go to weekly networking meetings – where I often saw the same people. Networking effectively is about meeting new people and spending time over a cup of coffee to learn about them. Yes, I said, learn about them. You probably have heard that we all have 6 degrees of separation. Everyone knows somebody. So start by asking questions to your new connection. Ask where they grew up, what college they attended, how they ended up at their current position, why they came to live here and even why they chose their profession.
  4. Ask and determine how you can help them – Yes, the hour you spend with someone is to determine how you can help them. I know, you thought you were there about your needs. Well, when you help someone they in-turn want to return the favor. And most important, by hearing what they need, you will uncover who they want to meet and who they know. Use your growing list of connections to help make an introduction to your new connection. And as you ask more questions and learn more about your new friend, you will find they often know someone you want to connect with. My wife summarizes this process exactly in stating that for effective networking, just like with a bank account, you can’t make a withdrawal until you make a deposit. Make as many deposits as you can. There will be time later to make a withdrawal.
  5. Build your connections similar to multi-level marketing – The true basis of multi-level marketing is to meet someone who can introduce you to 2 people, and in turn, those 2 people each introduce you to 2 more. As you continue this process you will build a downline of connections that all started with one person. And think of how many downlines you can build stating with all of the people you know now.

    How do you get the names of the 2 people to meet? You ask your new connection. During your conversation they will have brought up the name of someone you want to meet, or if not, then at the end of your meeting, ask for the names of 2 people they can introduce you to. They will always know 2 people, anyone, even the person at the grocery store they know, who seems to know everyone. Those are the people I want to meet – because they know many people. I will say it again, I have networked for years and it is always fascinating and highly exciting. Why? Because every time I meet someone I end up surprised at who they know.

  6. The introduction – When networking effectively, your new connection is most happy to make an introduction to other people on your behalf. The most standard method is via email introduction where you and the new connection are introduced to each other. From there it is quite easy to respond, set up a time to meet, and you are on your way to meeting someone new – starting the process all over again. You can also call them if provided a phone number. This is not a cold call as your existing connection will have reached out to your new connection making an introduction. Then your call will be expected and flow much easier with no pressure compared to cold calling.
  7. Following up – This process is not complete without follow up and follow through. Reach out to your new connection as soon as possible simply setting up a time and place to meet. Then after you meet your new connection, send an email to the person that referred you and not only thank them for the introduction, but tell them how valuable the meeting was and what you learned about your new connection. This follow-up is critical as a thank you is always appropriate both to the person you met and the person that referred you. By doing this you further cement your growing connection with this person, and they want to know that when they referred you to someone, the new person responded and was helpful. A great meeting with someone new can only make your referral happy and glad to help you again.
  8. LinkedIn connections – This article can’t be complete without mentioning LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool like any other if used properly. You can be a member in up to 50 groups for free, and I suggest you get in 50 of them. The groups can be related to your job search, career, self-help and much more. If you find yourself involved in a discussion in one of the groups and give and take input from a couple of people, then use that as a basis to make a connection on LinkedIn. BUT, write something in your request to them when connecting that explains why you want to connect. Don’t send the “I want to connect with you” wording. I run from those invites. Instead, explain that you enjoy their posts, you learn much from them, and that being in the same group may prove you have more in common. Help make the other person be excited to connect with you, and continue your dialogue. But only reach out to connect with someone when you are intent on building a networking relationship.
  9. Keep a spreadsheet of connections – Having a finance background spreadsheets are second nature to me, and if they aren’t to you, determine some way to track all of the people you meet. Sure you can save their phone numbers, email address and where they work in your iphone. Yet, I recommend you keep additional information, such as: when you met, who they referred you to, and who referred them to you. The key here is knowing who referred someone to you, and then who they referred you to. You will find it is quite valuable to contact all of your connections periodically providing an update of your job search status and how they have helped you. My list of connections got so large that I carried my spreadsheet with me to networking meetings because I often referred back it.
  10. Hang out where your boss would hang out – Often job seekers are directed to target companies to land a job. You can do that, but that targets a few companies. Networking targets all of them. So determine where the hiring managers would network where they meet many people at the same level from other companies. Years ago in my Treasurer role I reported to the CFO and I looked to where CFO’s would attend conferences, seminars, networking meetings, etc. My goal was to be there to be introduced to CFO’s no matter the company at which they worked. Why? Because I could build a long term relationship with them never knowing when they might need me. Further, they know other CFO’s who might be hiring. Often one CFO will call another CFO who they met through networking and ask if they know anyone to fill an opening.

One quick point on quantity vs. quality. When I networked while unemployed I could build a database of a couple hundred connections very quickly. To some degree quantity has value as you never know where you will meet someone who can be your best referral. At the same time I did strive for quality. Generally I wanted to be around people in my profession or along my career path. I was not trying to get to 1,000 names as a contest. Rather, take the time to get to know your connections and build relationships.

The biggest key to all of this process is to get to know the other person and determine how you can help them. As you do this you will learn who they know. Most important you want them to be eager to get to you know you, the real you, with your great expertise, experience and skill set. This is extremely critical because having all of these connections is similar to having your own sales force. All of these connections will be eager to sell you to their business friends. But they can only do that by getting to know you, and have people eager to get to know you. You do that by demonstrating how you can help them.

In the end networking is about building lasting relationships. As you build these relationships, you will find that although there is an advantage to knowing many people, networking is most effective when your hundreds of connections know you. When they know your ability and passion, then they become your greatest asset. These connections will easily out power what you have on your resume as they make personal introductions just for you.
Looking for more great job search keys? Now get 25% off the complete 50 Keys Job Search Program AND 1/2 hour FREE consultation with me.  Enter coupon code networking  (click on the 40 keys tab; we now have added 10 more keys!)

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Warm regards,

Have a question? Contact me at gary@garyspinell.com.

6 reasons why the unemployed will be your best performers

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We hear many stories that companies shy away from hiring someone who is unemployed, especially if they have been unemployed longer than 6 months. Some companies may only consider candidates that are actively working or at best unemployed for 1-2 months. A recent newspaper article said the average duration for those unemployed is 9 months. Bypassing these candidates is often eliminating those who will most likely be your best performers

The belief has been if someone is unemployed for a long time that there might be something wrong with them or their inability to network, job search, or they are lacking other skills. There is also the mindset that a company wants someone with immediate relevant experience to their industry or the open position and someone unemployed does not meet that requirement.

There is no doubt that the best person to help any business is someone who is unemployed, especially if they have been unemployed more than 6 months. I am not referring to a job seeker who barely has a resume, comes unprepared to an interview and demonstrates all of the other classic mistakes job seekers can make. Those job seekers are at best a tiny percentage of all job seekers. To the contrary most job seekers that have previously been employed more than 10 years are extremely talented people who have sharpened their skills while unemployed.

Here are 6 reasons why someone who is unemployed that you hire will end up being one of your top performers:

1. Ability to face adversity: Why is a job seeker who has been unemployed for many months the best person to come in and make a powerful impact on your company and business? Because someone unemployed has obtained the ability to face adversity, get up every day to sell themselves again, deal with the emotional, mental and physical stress of the unknown, and take another step toward their goal each day. And isn’t adversity, constant change, the biggest challenge businesses face every day? Job seekers possess the capacity to remain balanced and keep moving forward with a clear and even mindset to deal with ever changing market conditions, threats to the business, setbacks of projects and turnover within a company. Someone unemployed develops the capability to remain emotionally balanced while under stress.

2. Motivated to learn: Companies today are often looking for someone with industry or specific technical skills that match the company’s needs and can consider job seekers as lacking these vital skills. Whatever a job seeker may be lacking in technical skills or industry knowledge is more than compensated by their over whelming desire to perform at their highest ability for the company and desire to learn in a new job. Most managers will agree that the key to building a great team is to hire someone who is motivated as you can teach them about the business along the way. This is often in direct contrast to hiring someone with the necessary skills, but lacking the desire to be the best they can be.

3. Tenacity: These dedicated job seekers rapidly acquire the skills of perseverance, patience, persistence and tenacity. They have learned to face rejection and continue on toward their goal. They have acquired this major skill because of the tenacity required when in a job search, waiting on the phone to ring, not being called back with no reason given, dealing with rejection, and getting back up on their feet easily 30,40 or even 100 times in their job search. And they do so with a smile, faith, confidence and belief they will succeed.

Job seekers face rejection and setback on a daily basis. There is no better teacher in life than rejection and failure. From each experience, job seekers evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, remix the formula and try again. Job seekers have the resilience to get back up and potentially face rejection again, yet keep adjusting their sails, their mindset, their approach and their skills all to be the best employee a company will ever have.

4. Presentation skills: Job seekers aren’t just polishing their resume, tweaking their LinkedIn profile, and rehearsing an elevator speech with other unemployed people. In reality, they are continually growing and learning, taking courses, attending seminars, and especially receiving feedback on their speaking, writing and presentation skills. Most important they are improving their skill on how to sell an idea, a concept and approach – selling a hiring manager that they have the ability, passion and desire to make an impact on that company. It is said that the number one fear of all people is public speaking, yet these people learn to excel at presenting every day, and selling one of the most difficult things to sell – themselves. Given the opportunity, job seekers are some of the best at selling to anyone.

5. Been there, done that: Technology has changed business to some degree, but challenges companies face remain the same. Standing in the way of achieving goals and growing the business, companies and managers continually face not having enough resources, time constraints, tight budgets, an ever-changing economic and political environment, supply chain logistics and providing excellent customer service. Unemployed candidates with more than 20 year’s experience have battled through all of these challenges. They didn’t just save the company money, they did it with limited resources or with deadlines and little budget. This valuable experience will quickly provide your ROI.

6. Staying current: A hiring manager may require current experience which is understandable. Yet, some people in her/his department are not current on technical skills such certifications, degrees or instructive seminars. Quite simply, they often just do not have the time nor the budget. At the same time many job seekers are expanding their skill set automatically. They have taken courses, obtained a degree, added new certifications, CPA credits or learned the latest in social media. They come to the interview and a company armed with the skills, mindset and business perspective ready to make an immediate impact.

You may ask if these job seekers are this talented why have then not been hired? They can be quickly overlooked when submitting a resume as too old, over-qualified or not having current experience. And yet they have extremely valuable experience, the knowledge of having been there before, knowing the problems companies will face, and the emotional and mental fortitude to get the job done.

And, most job seekers will have researched your company, contacted people who worked or work at your company, and learned about the company culture, all to determine if they are a great fit for your company AND that the company is a great fit for them. They are looking for the best opportunity as well.

I have met hundreds of job seekers at networking meetings and a host of other venues and they all have one thing in common: a burning desire to be the best they can be, motivation to never stop learning and growing, and determination to prove once again that they can and will add massive value to another company.

Pay It forward and Thank You backward


Bearing Gifts

A good business friend of mine loves to reference a scene from the movie “The Mexican” where Julia Roberts screams from the window to Brad Pitt, “It’s all about you!”

When in a job search it is human nature to not only feel it is all about us, but feel the urgency to make it work for us now.  Although there are millions of people unemployed everyone’s specific circumstances are different. Therefore, we feel as if our situation is unique and because of its uniqueness, it must be resolved immediately.

When we face any challenge in our life it is very natural from a human behavior perspective to lock in on the challenge, almost with tunnel vision. Every waking minute is used thinking about this challenge accompanied by a long list of emotions leaving us with only one constant thought: We must do something as quick as possible to remove this pain and frustration of being unemployed.

Our reaction to all of this frantic and complex mental energy and exertion is the desire to overcome this problem immediately. We set out as good students to learn everything we can, diagnosing the issue in hopes of quickly coming to a resolution. During this activity we become sponges, soaking up every bit of information and ideas from everyone and everywhere.  We hope to be able to condense the information and put together the right formula to instantly land that job offer. Our urgency and push is to be relieved of the anxiety, stress and frustration that goes with being unemployed.

In our haste to gather this information, we may forget the very fundamental principles involved in building long lasting personal relationships, confidence, gratitude, appreciation, the power of putting others first:

Pay it forward, and Thank You backward.

Most everyone has heard of the concept of paying it forward. Paying it forward is in essence, passing on the good deed someone did for you. You in turn now do a favor for someone else. This method is never more important than when in a job search. Why? Because just as I alluded to earlier, becoming self-focused is extremely natural when in a job search and it can work severely to your disadvantage. For most people, there is nothing more important that landing a job for all of the obvious reasons. 

However, the more you focus on yourself, the less you may focus on others.  Often one of the biggest mistakes job seekers makes is to be so immersed in their own plight that they lose interest in helping those around them, paying it forward and saying thank you backward. 

Yet, there actually is a magical result that occurs when we focus our attention on others. Why? When we focus our attention on others, and truly seek to find ways to help them, we not only feel great in the process, but our self-esteem rises as we recognize our value in the world. This increase is self-esteem and self-confidence is not lost in helping someone. We carry that self-confidence into our next meeting with a new connection, the next email we send, the next smile and handshake we deliver and of course, in our next interview.  In addition, paying it forward opens you up to receive, yes, receive, because when you give help you will find more help will come to you. Hoarding actually by its nature is that of constriction and contradiction – the exact opposite effect you might have attempted to generate.

At the same time, a thank you backward – thanking someone who helped you so you can then pay it forward on to someone else is just as vital in a job search process. You again recognize and are grateful for someone taking the time to help you. Be absolutely sure you follow up with an email or even a phone call specifically thanking that person for any help or support you were provided. If you met in person, did you buy your new networking connection a cup of coffee? If they paid for yours, take the time to mail them a gift card as a special way to thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to help you. Do you think you will be remembered?

Taking the time out of your busy search to specifically thank someone who might have taken the time to send you an email checking on you, providing emotional support or describing recommendations is just the right thing to do. Taking the time to say thank you says much about you, that this job search is not “All about you”.  Paying it forward is important, but when you say thank you to someone in words or actions, it is perceived as something special by the recipient. Saying or taking action to provide a thank you demonstrates your character.

One of the unique benefits of a job search is the wonderful people met along the way. Some of these relationships will last many years, and continue to provide support and assistance in many ways.  As you radiate the real you in all directions, more people will see your value.  Your value is seen at its best when you pay it forward and thank you backward.