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7.4 Networking with Executives and Recruiters

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand what networking strategies work best with senior people and recruiters.
  2. Understand that networking works best when people are genuinely interested in people, versus getting to know others purely for personal gain.

Network with Executives

Your network should include people at all levels: your family and friends, past peers, and past managers. Follow these three suggestions to include senior people at all different levels into your network:

  1. Participate in cross-functional task forces in any kind of work or educational situation. You will meet people at varying management levels and also get the chance to impress them and include them in your network.
  2. Contact senior managers and thank them or compliment them on their presentation or speech at any other formal meeting. Mention something specific about what they said, especially if it helped you in some way (it increased your knowledge, made you think differently about something, gave you an idea to solve a problem, and so forth), so they know you listened and they know your comment is genuine. Continue to follow up with them in other ways (holidays, congratulate them should they get promoted, and so forth).
  3. A mentorA wise and trusted counselor. can give you perspective that is very objective and, in some cases, powerful. They can also make great introductions, so don’t hesitate to explore this with them.

Network with Recruiters

Many job seekers feel uneasy about keeping in touch with recruiters and feel like they are being a pest. However, recruiters appreciate candidates who stay in touch, as long as it’s in an unassuming way. For example, candidates should let recruiters know the latest news about them and their market, but shouldn’t include a request or a need with that news.

Industry professionals offer the following networking advice regarding how job seekers can stay in touch:

  • Build the relationship before you need anything. Xavier Roux, a partner at Redseeds Consulting, an executive search firm for management consulting, advises, “Strong candidates cultivate good relationships with recruiters when they are not looking for a job so that they can get help when they are.”
  • Don’t be afraid to follow up about a specific position that interests you. AndrewHendricksen , a managing partner with OP/HR Group, an executive search firm focusing on technology and new media advises, “If you are very qualified you should feel comfortable making one to two cold or follow-up calls no matter what stage you are in the process, but keep in mind too many will result in your being disqualified.…[Send] a follow-up action plan once you understand a hiring manager’s expectations. This works especially well for people in sales and marketing or any job that requires results. If you are considered a top prospect, sending a high-level yet well-thought-out 90-day action plan can put you above your competition.”
  • Contact people via social media after you have done the research and are fully prepared. Jennifer Sobel, a recruitment manager at Disney ABC Television Group advises, “Many job seekers are desperately trying to use social networking tools to search for jobs, which is a great idea. However, they are using the tools all wrong. I must get ten to fifteen ‘LinkedIn’ requests per day from people searching for a job at my company. Their requests usually sound something like this: ‘Hi, I don’t know you but would love to work at your company. Are there any openings for me?’ I would urge each job seeker to only reach out when they have identified an open position that they meet the minimum qualifications for.…Not having your research done beforehand comes off as lazy and it doesn’t give a recruiter any reason to help you.”
  • Remember that being helpful is a two-way exchange. Sarah Grayson, a founding partner of On-Ramps, an executive search for the social sector, advises, “It’s always impressive to me when candidates refer us other strong candidates and go out of their way to stay in touch.…It shows me that they know how to network and value relationships.”

Key Takeaways

  • Many opportunities exist to meet senior people and include them in your network. When they speak to a large group, you can send them an e-mail thanking them if you learned something from what they said.
  • Mentors are a key part of your network. You should have constant interaction with them throughout your college and work career.

Exercises

  1. The next time you participate in a senior-level presentation of any kind, write the presenter an e-mail or a note thanking them for their speech or presentation. Mention something specific that you learned.
  2. If you have a mentor, create a schedule (every five to seven weeks) to touch base with them, inform them of your job search, or see what is happening with their career. If you don’t have a mentor, think about who you would like to have as a mentor. Approach that person and simply ask if they could mentor you, and set up a time to talk with them. Remember that it’s the mentee’s responsibility to maintain the relationship. Such a relationship is one of give and take, and emphasizing the give makes the relationship stronger and more fruitful.