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Chapter 7 Step 4: Network Effectively
Figure 7.1 The Six-Step Job Search Process—Step 4
Networking Effectively is Crucial to Your Job Search
In this textbook, we have completed the first three steps in a job search:
- Identify your target.
- Create a Compelling marketing campaign.
The next step is Step 4: Networking and Interviewing. The two are combined because they are complementary: the more effectively you network, the more effectively will your efforts result in an interview. In addition, networking can also be considered a mini-interview because the more you impress a contact, the more likely it is that person will help you secure a real interview. For the purposes of this chapter, however, we’ll focus on networking only and Chapter 8 "Step 4 (Continued): Master the Interview" will focus on interviewing only.
Definition of Networking. You can look up the word “networking” in many dictionaries, and you’ll find many different definitions. One of the best definitions for networking comes from an extremely talented speaker and business coach, Bob Burg, who defines it as such:
“Networking is defined as establishing a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship of give and take, with the emphasis on the give.”
This is an exceptional definition for the following reasons:
- Relationships are to be established for the long term, throughout your college years and business career.
- Relationships should be mutually beneficial because such relationships are more likely to be sustained.
- Relationships in networking emphasize the give versus the take. This may not seem intuitiveSomething that is natural, something that is sensed. because we network to get a job—right? Wrong. Focusing only on getting a job gives networking and you a bad reputation. Focusing on the other person’s interests and pursuits will build a network for you that will always be there when you need something.
Another universal truthSomething that is true all of the time, in every instance. is that the more you give, the more you will get. A genuine quality of giving will separate you from other networkers. Being genuinely interested in finding out about a person and wanting to know them well enough to positively affect their career, their lives, and their interests is a huge differentiator.
Quality, Not Quantity!. Networking isn’t about quantity; it’s about quality. We all know more people than we realize and we have numerous opportunities to meet new people every day. Just don’t forget that after you meet someone, unless you maintain and expand that relationship, that person isn’t really part of your core network. Networking isn’t just about approaching people; it’s about following up.
The Power of Networking. People naturally want to network with people who they know, like, and trust. Once these criteria have been met, people will generally open their networks up to you.
It’s a given that one person knows 250 people, give or take. Most people could invite about 250 people to their wedding and have approximately 250 visitors at their funeral.
If you know, like, and trust another individual, and therefore open your network up to that person, they will have access to a network of 500 individuals:
their 250 contacts + your 250 contacts = 500 contacts
- Multiply 500 by 10 people, and you will now have access to 2,500 individuals.
- Multiply 2,500 by 100 people, and you will now have access to 25,000 individuals.
- Multiply 25,000 by 250 people, and you will now have access to 625,000 individuals.
Your need to know 250 people might be intimidating, but let’s start with about 100 people you may know:
- Schoolmates (fraternity, sorority, athletes, classmates)
- Professors, teaching assistants, school administrators, coaches
- Past and current coworkers
- School reunion attendees
- Owners of neighborhood businesses (deli, coffee shop, dry cleaners, hardware stores, and so forth)
- People with whom you have volunteered
- People from a religious organization to which you belong
- Societies you might want to join that provide information about careers that are meaningful to you (e.g., Public Relations Student Society of America, National Society of Hispanic/Black MBAs, Society of Human Resources Professionals, Society of Speech and Drama Professionals, Society of Tennis Medicine, Society of Pharmacists)
In addition to who you know now, this chapter will give you strategies for building more networking contacts. Some useful venues include the following:
- Family events (weddings, birthdays, barbeques, and so forth)
- Alumni events (great opportunities to network with professionals with whom you have something in common)
The power of networking is limitless. Most individuals will use LinkedIn.com to keep in contact with their networks. Some individuals are open networkers and will connect with anyone who wants to connect with them. Others will be more discriminating and connect only to those people they know well. Either way, it’s a huge benefit to keep in touch with your contacts when they move from company to company and as they change e-mail addresses. It’s estimated that Generation YAnyone born between 1980-1995. (anyone born between 1980-1995) will change jobs close to twenty times in their lifetime. Keeping in touch with individuals this way can be very convenient and beneficial.
The Benefits of Networking. Networking has countless benefits. Aside from the social benefits of building relationships and keeping in touch with friends and valued acquaintances, networking yields other advantages:
- You will have insider information before things are public knowledge. This could pertain to the right companies to join or the right departments to consider. Often, before jobs are even posted, your networking contacts can let you know of opportunities.
- You will have access to individuals you otherwise might never meet or get to know, and your reach will extend to opportunities others may not ever hear of.
- You will know news before it reaches the general public, thus increasing your credibility.
- You might get the opportunity to lead others in your field. You could participate in a panel discussion or on a task force.
Networking enhances our lives in many ways. You can meet interesting people who share their life experiences, you can gain access to information you may never have known, and you can have access to career opportunities that otherwise would be out of your reach. The more effectively you network, the more opportunities will be presented to you. This chapter will outline strategies to build and expand your network so those opportunities are within your reach.
7.1 The Four Stages of Networking
- Learn the four stages of networking and why you need to follow the steps sequentially.
- Learn why follow-up could be the most important component of all four stages of networking.
Networking consists of four stages, and the sequential order of the four stages is extremely important:
- The approach
- The follow-up
- The request
We all know individuals who call us only when they need something. They use only two of the four steps: they go from the approach right to the request. We know how we feel when this happens. When these people contact us, we no doubt say to ourselves, “I wonder what they want now.” To avoid this annoying behavior, you must follow the four steps sequentially. Let’s review each one in the order they should be used.
Research enables you to identify key things and key people with whom you should be networking. In a job search, you should aim your research to answer the following questions:
- What details are available about the company of interest?
- What specific departments exist within the company?
- Who are the individuals who run those departments (the decision makers)?
- Does this company recruit on campus?
- Does HR lead the company’s recruiting efforts, or do the hiring managers find their own talent (for the most part)?
- What is the profitability of each department?
- What companies compete against the main company and against the specific departments (they might be different)?
- What are the top products and services produced?
- What are the goals of the company or the department?
- What recent challenges and trends are they are experiencing?
Once you identify these items, research everything about them through company websites, Google, LinkedIn, and the people in your network. The more information you gather, the more knowledgeable you will be about your job search, and the more likely you will impress those with whom you meet and network.
Once you have identified the individuals with whom you would like to network or contact, think about how you would like to contact them. Great care should be taken with this step because first impressions matter. Things to consider include the following:
Do you know anyone who can make a warm introduction? Cold contacts are clearly not as effective as an introduction from someone who knows both parties. If you are fortunate enough to have such a contact, approach them to make the connection. Never ask for a job. Instead, ask that they make an introduction. People you already know can make introductions:
- Friends and family
- Current or past employees of the company (this includes classmates who have interned at companies of interest)
- Peers at school
- Career services
- Other school contacts, including professors, administrators, and so on
- If you must make a cold contact, your research can be used to impress. In a cover letter, you may write intelligently and compellingly about how you can be instrumental in the company because you can do x, y, or z. Be specific about your knowledge of the company, the departments, and the company’s competitors. Know why another company is challenging them, or why they are clearly the industry leader with no close second. Refer to Chapter 5 "Step 2 (Continued): Create a Compelling Marketing Campaign, Part II: Cover Letter, Pitch, and Online Profile", part II of this textbook, for complete information on how to write a compelling cover letter.
Reconnect with Old Contacts
If you have great contacts, but you haven’t kept in touch with them, you can use different ways to reconnect, but take care to not offend. The first time you reconnect, it cannot be about your job search. You cannot ask for anything that first time, except how the other person is doing. The point of reconnecting is to reestablish the relationship. The other person is the focus and by listening to them and being interested, you actually help yourself because you will learn about what’s going on in the market and what people care about, and you can act on this later.
This is why maintaining your network is so critical when you don’t need anything. It takes the time pressure off you to accomplish anything. If, however, you have waited until you are in need to work on your network, then you must discipline yourself to make those early contacts about your network and not about yourself. One good exercise is to take three to five contacts per day and just say hello. This gets you in the habit of regularly reaching out to your network, so that when you actually have a question to ask or even a favor, the request isn’t the only time you have reached out.
When using LinkedIn, remind people how you know each other. Don’t use those template connection invitations. Compose a personal message about where you met, when you last spoke, or something else that shows genuine interest. Add an updated and professional-looking picture of yourself so that old connections who may have forgotten your name can recognize you visually.
A networking paradoxA seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. is that you cannot get a job without networking, but the biggest networking pet peeve is when someone asks for a job. Remember that no one wants to be contacted only in times of need. That’s what gives networking a bad reputation.
Once you have made the contact, the very next step is to follow up and maintain the networking contact. Immediately after meeting someone, following either a marketing event of some kind, a networking meeting, or an interview, you should send that person an e-mail that mentions that you were happy to see or meet them, references something you discussed (to at the very least remind them of your conversation), and asks for nothing in return.
Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate e-mails that reiterate interest or share an item that may be of interest to them, but what isn’t appreciated is requiring that they get back regarding a date or detail of some kind. Avoid if it at all possible. The best way to build a solid network is to contact people when you don’t need anything. Even if you are a job seeker and are networking to jump-start your search, you don’t want your first contact (or even your second) to be a request for help. Instead, maintain (or restart) your network by reaching out to people regularly—without asking for anything.
If you plan to add someone to your network for the long term, you should follow up with that person several times a year. Asking for help or just talking about yourself doesn’t count. Follow up in a way that focuses on them and what you can do for them, not the other way around. Focus on giving away—not selling. Here are some creative ways to reach out:
Say thank you: Thank them for their time in meeting with you, and for the information they shared. Add something you discussed to the thank-you note to support the fact that you were listening and comprehending. Set the stage for future networking contact.
Give a results update: If someone gave you advice, let them know what you did with it. Perhaps someone made a connection that resulted in another connection. Keep them updated and thank them again for the connection.
Spread holiday cheer: Send holiday cards, and include some information about yourself to keep people updated. Remember to note information you receive in return (e.g., changes of address, changes of employment). Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Passover, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving are great times to keep in touch, but you might even use the arrival of spring as a reason to reach out.
Announce a life change: You might announce the end of the school year, entrance to an internship, entry to a graduate degree program, a promotion, or just an e-mail change. When you send out announcements, include news about other areas of your life. Always be upbeat. Job seekers can let their network know they are looking in specific industries, but shouldn’t immediately ask for help. For job seekers who have already announced they are looking, consider a follow-up contact letting people know where you are in your search.
Offer an interesting article: Pick something about their industry and company, and it shows you are on top of news that matters to them. This works well for professional contacts, with whom you may not be on a familiar enough basis for a holiday card or personal announcement. An insightful article lets the contact know you are thinking of them and you understand what’s important in their industry.
Introduce a new contact: When you introduce people to your network, not only do you expand the contacts of the person you introduce, but you also get an opportunity to catch up with your network. Like sending an interesting article, an interesting referral lets the contact know you are knowledgeable about their needs and willing to help.
Simply say hello: Sometimes a person just pops into your head. Maybe they resemble someone on TV. Maybe you heard a joke they would enjoy. Follow your instinct and call or e-mail to say hello. It is always nice to know people are thinking of you.
Offer congratulations: Did they make one of those business magazine top lists (e.g., Most Innovative, Most Admired, Best Places to Work)? If you hear good news about someone or their company, point it out.
Make a recommendation: If you read a good book, try a good restaurant, and so forth, pass that on. (Make sure to keep it professional because your referrals are always a reflection on you.)
Use these nine methods, timed six to seven weeks apart, and you have almost a year of follow up. Now you have no excuse not to maintain your network.
Figure 7.2 "Example Follow-Up Note 1" and Figure 7.3 "Example Follow-Up Note 2" are examples of a follow-up note after a networking meeting.
Figure 7.2 Example Follow-Up Note 1
Figure 7.3 Example Follow-Up Note 2
Only when you have completed the first three steps should you make a request. The quality of your network depends on following this checklist. It is tempting to jump from step 2 (the approach) to step 4 (the request), but you do so at the risk of not building a quality network on which you can rely for your professional success.
- Networking has four distinct stages. Effective networkers shouldn’t take shortcuts.
- Research, the first stage of networking, enables you to identify the key things and key people with whom you should be networking.
- Warm introductions are almost always more effective than cold calls.
- Reconnecting with old contacts is important, but take care when doing so.
- Follow-up is perhaps the most important part of networking because it helps the relationship to grow.
- Select a company of interest and begin to research key players at that company using the company website, http://www.linkedin.com, and your networking contacts.
- Think about how to contact key decision makers at the companies in which you are most interested.
- Follow up quickly and effectively after meeting new people. Think about how to continue the relationship, and focus on the giving aspect of the relationship.
7.2 Your Networking Pitch
- Understand why a networking pitch must be worded in a precise way that will both introduce you and create a very strong impression of your value proposition.
- Learn how to craft a highly effective networking pitch.
Earlier in this textbook (in chapter 5) the networking pitch was covered extensively. A shortened version is included here.
A networking pitch was originally termed an elevator pitch because in the time an elevator takes to go between floors (generally thirty to forty seconds), you should be able to articulate your value proposition (the skills you have and the position you are seeking). The elevator pitch is now also called the professional pitch, the networking pitch, or simply, the pitch.
An pitch is crucial to your job search: it’s a thirty second introduction and overview of what you are about, including your education, your work experience, and your unique value proposition. Typically, it’s also your first chance to impress. You can also use it in a variety of ways:
- Whenever you meet someone new in person or by phone
- At the very beginning of an interview, to give an overview of your background
- As an introduction during networking events (mostly business, but some personal as well)
This thirty- to forty-second summary should be spoken, or delivered, in a confident, convincing manner, making a strong impression. If your pitch is too long and drawn out, it lacks convictionTo have purpose.. When meeting networking contacts, recruiters, and hiring managers, this is your one chance to make a great impression and present yourself with clarity. No one wants to listen to a long, drawn-out speech. A pitch should be clear and concise, enabling the person who is listening to know exactly what type of job search candidate you are.
How do you craft an effective pitch? Three steps will ensure your success:
- Write your pitch.
- Edit your pitch until it sounds just right.
- Practice delivering your pitch verbally, and edit it further as needed because we don’t write the same way that we speak. Continue rehearsing and repeating your pitch to ensure that your delivery is natural, convincing, and authentic.
Write Your Pitch
Your pitch should answer the following five questions:
What is your educational background? Detail every college or university you attended, your major and minor, and your expected degree and graduation month and year (include your GPA if it’s 3.3 or higher).
Do you have any pertinent experience in the field in which you are interested?
What are your critical skills and strengths? Highlight your top two or three skills.
What do you want to do? Be specific regarding industry, function, and geography (see Chapter 3 "Step 1: Identify Your Job Search Targets").
Why would you be good at the position? Focus on presenting your top two or three skills, and the skills you have that are necessary to succeed at the job you are targeting.
Edit Your Pitch
Once your pitch is in writing, review it and edit it accordingly. You should use words that come naturally to you because the more natural the delivery, the more impressive the pitch. Here are some steps you can consider while editing your pitch:
- After you edit the one-page answers to the pitch questions, ensuring that you have covered all the important items, cut it to half a page; this forces you to prioritize the essential elements.
- After you edit the half-page document, ensuring that you have covered all the important items, cut it in half again (it’s now one-quarter of the page); this forces you to be even more ruthless in prioritizing.
- After you edit the quarter-page document, ensuring you have covered all the important items, cut it in half again, leaving only four or five key bullets; this forces you to be concise and select just the most important items.
Practice Delivering Your Pitch
Once you have the final pitch in writing, you’ll need to practice, then practice, then practice some more. Your pitch should be spoken in a confident and compelling manner.
- Review your pitch to ensure it flows smoothly and addresses your career highlights, and then practice it until it’s memorized. Practice until you can repeat it when someone shakes you from your sleep at 3:30 in the morning and you can maintain your passion when saying it.
- Using an accurate stopwatch or timer and a tape recorder (or answering machine) to record yourself, repeat the preceding exercise. Start with two minutes, then cut it to one minute, then cut to it thirty seconds, and, finally, cut it to fifteen seconds.
The trick to a successful pitch is to practice it ten, twenty, thirty, even forty times. Practice until it rolls off the tip of your tongue. Practice until it has your exact tone and style. Practice until it’s such a natural thing to say that you don’t even have to think about it before and while you are saying it.
- A pitch was originally called an elevator pitch because you should have a quick, succinct way to introduce yourself should you meet someone in an elevator.
- A networking pitch is a helpful way to introduce yourself while emphasizing the quality of what you bring as a candidate.
- Create your pitch, using the exercise provided in this chapter.
- Fine-tune your pitch by typing it and practicing it aloud, ensuring it has the proper tone.
- Pair up with a buddy to practice your pitch. Critique your buddy’s pitch and listen to the critique of your pitch.
- Once you have finalized your pitch, practice saying it ten, twenty, and even thirty times until it flows smoothly.
7.3 How to Build Your Network On a Regular Basis, Even If You Are Shy: Venues for Meeting People
- Understand why it’s critical to build your network every day, whenever possible.
- Learn how to focus your energies on building a network that will be effective throughout your college career and beyond.
- Learn strategies for initiating great conversations at networking events, even if you are shy.
Build Your Network Every Day
Great networkers build their networks every day, while keeping in touch with those they have already met. Networking is work, but the rewards far outweigh the effort you will expend.
The most effective way to build a network is to have a genuine interest in every person you meet. Most individuals know when someone wants to know them for what they offer versus wanting to know them for what they can gain from the relationship. Don’t fall into that self-serving trap. Genuine interest in others is the impetus for building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships of give and take, with the emphasis on the give.
If you are just beginning to build your network, or if you want to expand the network you already have, consider the following exercise:
High Willingness to Help
Low Relevance to Job Search
High Willingness to Help
High Relevance to Job Search
Low Willingness to Help
Low Relevance to Job Search
Low Willingness to Help
High Relevance to Job Search
Notice that the horizontal axis is relevance to job search. As you go from left to right, the relevance to your job search becomes stronger. Willingness to help is on the vertical axis; as you go higher, the willingness to help is greater.
Logically, you will want to expand your network with the people who represent the characteristics in quadrant II: high willingness to help and high relevance to your job search. These individuals include the following:
- Career services directors, career counselors, administrators
- Peers with whom you have good relationships and who could perhaps share information about their prior internships
- Professors who are impressed with your abilities and performance and who have ties to corporations of interest to you
- Alumni who want an increasing number of qualified candidates from their school to enter their company or industry
- Past employers who were very satisfied with your level of work, who have contacts at firms in which you are interested in, and so forth
- Your relative who works in a corporation, but not in your industry, who may be friends with those who do work in your industry
Logically, you will want to spend the least amount of time with people in quadrant III because they have no relevance to your job search and are not willing to help.
Quadrants I and IV remain, and very helpful networking contacts could be lurking in both of these populations.
Quadrant I: This is an excellent resource for networking contacts because these individuals are very willing to help, but perhaps their relevance to your job search isn’t obvious or apparent. You never know who people know, so it’s very much worth your while to get to know as many people as you can, no matter what the venue.
People in quadrant I include the following:
- A neighbor might be best friends with an administrative assistant at the company in which you are interested and that assistant could easily share your résumé with hiring managers.
- Someone with whom you are affiliated by attending a church, synagogue, or any other place of worship may have contacts in the industry in which you are interested, and can arrange for an informational interview.
- Your landscaper might have a brother who is a senior or top-level executive at the exact company in which you are interested.
- A diner owner could have a close friend who is a hospital administrator and can arrange an introduction into the health-care field.
- A teacher’s husband might be a vendor to the company in which you are interested.
- Your dog groomer might have a neighbor who is a junior-level manager at a firm of interest.
The endless possibilities in this quadrant shouldn’t be overlooked!
Quadrant IV’s population could also represent fruitful opportunities, but you will need to ask yourself, “at what cost?” If someone highly relevant to your job search has a low willingness to help, could you turn that person around? What would it take? Often, it’s best to funnel your energy and effort into the quadrants that will yield the best results: quadrants I and II.
Build Your Network Even If You Are Shy
If you are shy and the thought of networking wreaks havoc with your nervous system, certain strategies you can employ immediately will allow you to benefit from networking venues of all kinds.
Step 1: Observe the Networking Masters
We all know people who are natural networkers and who know how to work a room better than most. For those of you who are shy watch people who network effectively. Observe how they meet and greet a variety of people. Notice their body language, especially their smile, posture, handshake, and eye contact. You will naturally pick up pointers from these individuals.
Step 2: Pair Up with Someone Who Is a Good Networker
If you can pair up with a networking master, by all means do. If you have a friend who is extroverted, ask them to attend an event with you and pair up to meet as many people as you can. This can be a very valuable adventure that results in meeting quite a lot of new people.
Step 3: Ask Questions That Get Other People to Talk Easily
You can ask seven questions that will naturally elicit a great response from a person you want to get to know:
- How did you get your start in this business?
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
- What separates you from your competition?
- What do you see as the coming trends in this business?
- What is the strangest (or funniest) incident you have ever experienced in this business?
- What three or four critical skills are necessary to succeed in this business?
- What advice would you give to me knowing I want to get my start in this business?
(See http://www.burg.com for a list of exceptional networking questions, including some of the preceding.)
Step 4: Don’t Take Things Personally
When you take the plunge and begin networking and meeting individuals, try to develop a thick skin and don’t take things personally. Some individuals will not want to communicate with you, and that is fine. Move on to those who do. To a large degree, it’s a numbers game, so the more individuals you meet and follow up with correctly, the more will join your network.
Meet People at Different Venues
Your college environment is rich with potential networking contacts. Earlier in this chapter, it was noted that everyone knows, give or take, about 250 people, and the more people you meet who give you access to their network of 250, the more you will multiply the people with whom you are connected. Here are some ways for you to network effectively:
Join school clubs: Some schools have over two hundred clubs—everything from business clubs to tennis clubs to Asian heritage clubs. Join at least three or four that spark your interest so you have variety in your friends and network. Club membership is a great way to get connected early on in your college career, meet people who have the same interests as you, and learn a tremendous amount. School clubs funnel information to their members about networking events, internships, and full-time opportunities.
Establish a relationship with career services: Get involved with this group early on. People in career services have relationships with all the companies that come on campus to recruit. Check in with them in your freshman year and find out what opportunities exist and what the process is for applying.
Get to know your professors: Professors are human beings, just like you. Ask them about their backgrounds and how they ended up teaching at your school. Ask what they like about it. You will be surprised at what you find out. Some professors will have worked in the business world and will have some good connections for you. You never know until you ask.
Be curious about people and ask open-ended questions: When meeting someone new, ask them questions like “How did you pick this school?” and listen. A good listener is so hard to find. Open-ended questions often yield a story (sometimes a compelling story), and you learn quite a bit about a person. Ask about their family relationships. Be genuine because it is wonderful to find out about people, and you never know who they know or who their extended family knows.
Meet as many different types of folks at school as possible: Your school presents opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. Try to meet the president of the university, various administrators, deans (the dean of students is a great contact because that person manages the school clubs), professors, teaching assistants, fellow students, cafeteria workers, the hot dog vendor on the corner, the stationary store owner and clerks, the workers at your favorite coffee shop, security, library staff, and so on. Get to know these folks by (a) being polite and pleasant, (b) being responsible, and (c) recognizing them and knowing them by name. Even if your new acquaintances don’t further your networking objectives, perhaps some will become friends and make your stay at school all the better!
Keep in touch with your old high school friends: Your high school friends are likely at different schools, but it’s important to maintain contact. Your network will only grow this way, and you will enjoy continuing your friendships.
Networking is critical to your success throughout life. If you haven’t networked well before, it’s now a good time to start.
- Effective networkers build their network every chance they get. This includes networking with individuals they meet daily, at business events, and at social events of all kinds.
- Proactively build your network during your job search. Rather than go to lunch alone, see such outings as networking possibilities. Participate in as many events as you can and meet as many individuals as you can.
- The most helpful individuals to meet are those who are highly relevant to your job search and very willing to help.
- Many strategies exist for meeting people, even if you are shy. Observe people who network well and learn from their behavior. Pair up with someone who is a natural networker and learn from their interactions. Do not take things personally.
- You can ask many simple networking questions that will elicit substantial information from networking contacts.
- On-campus contacts can be found in every corner of your college or university. Take advantage of school clubs, meet as many administrators as possible, and remember that professors are people, too, and often have had careers in business.
- Create your network of one hundred people, using the 2 × 2 matrix in this section. Type the names of the individuals and how you know them. Also include the last time you contacted each person to say hello.
- Ensure you attend at least two to three networking events in the next month.
- Follow up with all of the individuals you have met.
7.4 Networking with Executives and Recruiters
- Understand what networking strategies work best with senior people and recruiters.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
7.5 Social Networking
- Learn about the best social networking sites to use in your job search.
- Understand what radical transparency means and how it can enhance or hurt your career prospects.
- Learn about the multiple benefits of social networking sites, beyond the networking aspect.
Two main social networking sites should concern you during your job search:
Be Aware of Radical Transparency
Radical transparencyThe ability to see personal information in cyberspace. was the phrase corporate firms used decades ago when they finally opened their books up to public scrutiny. Now, this phrase pertains to the radical transparency you experience by using social networking sites.
Facebook was started as a tool for college students, but companies started to enter this space in the 1990s. Companies, namely recruiters, started looking at Facebook pages and MySpace accounts when considering candidates for open positions. In fact, 40 percent or more of college admissions counselors reviewed Facebook pages before admitting candidates to their colleges and 40 percent of those who looked were not impressed by what they saw. Employers now review Facebook accounts before making hiring decisions.
A word of caution to all: Ensure your digital dirtAny unflattering personal information in cyberspace. is cleaned up. Your Facebook page should be professional and seek to impress anyone who reviews it, especially future employers.
Recruiters Use Social Networks
A high majority of recruiters use online social networks, such as LinkedIn, to find candidates, so job seekers absolutely need to take advantage of these tools. However, so many options are available and they are all so time consuming that job seekers risk being overwhelmed.
Make a Choice and Go Deep
Rather than spending a little time here and there on LinkedIn, Facebook, TwitterA free social networking website that lets users share short messages, known as tweets, with their circle of friends., DoostangAn invitation-only website that offers job boards and focuses on careers., blogging, or building a personal website, decide what you want to accomplish and research your options to see what best suits your objectives. Devote the bulk of your time to the area that will most help you accomplish your objectives.
Place an Overall Time Limit on Online Search Activities
A thorough job search encompasses many different activities, including research, expanding your network, following up with your existing network, updating your contact database, troubleshooting your search, and more. Online networking is helpful for research, networking, and maintaining contact information, so it’s worth a substantive time commitment, but not all of your time.
Offline Networking Etiquette Still Applies
The most successful online networkers share much in common with successful offline networkers. You can do several things to match their success. Be respectful of people’s time. Write engaging (and grammatically correct) business communications. Ask intelligent questions. Focus on giving and helping others. Remember that online social media is one tool in the broad umbrella of networking, and common sense networking etiquette still applies.
Social Networking Isn’t Just about Networking
LinkedIn and Facebook are referred to as social networking, so most job seekers use them primarily or even exclusively as networking tools. However, social networks are valuable at every stage of the job search, not just networking.
Social Networks Help with Target Identification
Use the detailed profiles in LinkedIn to get a better understanding of different job functions and career paths. If you think you want to work in corporate philanthropyA department within a corporate that focuses on giving back to the community., find people who have these jobs and review their experience, skills, and projects. Use what you learn as a guide to what you might need in your career, or at least as good issues to research.
Research Companies and Industries
Again using the profile data, pay attention to how people talk about their work. Projects on which people are working hold invaluable clues to deciphering exactly what a company does, especially when it’s a small, privately held company with little published information about clients or projects. Group discussionsOccur between group members on LinkedIn.com. are another way to get a sense for a company or industry. Find a company alumni group or industry niche and follow the discussions or ask questions.
Gather Salary Data
Use the Q&A function or specific group discussions on LinkedIn to collect data on salary, lifestyle, growth prospects, and other useful information for your own offer negotiation. Many geographies and industries are represented on online social networks, so you can specify exactly what you are looking for and likely find a close proxy.
- Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are valuable networking tools.
- Radical transparency means that people can see anything you place in cyberspace. Transparency can present challenges if you have information or material that is unprofessional.
- Cleaning up your digital dirt is important when you are conducting a job search and building your career.
- Social networking sites are great networking tools, but they have many other uses as well. You can research different positions when trying to decide which would be best for you, you can get a sense for what companies are truly like directly from their employees, and you can find out salary information via the various online groups.
- If you don’t have an account on LinkedIn, create one. Use the instructions in Chapter 5, Section 5.2 of this textbook.
- If you have an account on LinkedIn, but it’s not 100 percent complete, ensure that it is by adding a professional photo, getting recommendations from a variety of individuals, and joining groups.
- Google yourself to clean up any digital dirt that exists in cyberspace.
- Use LinkedIn to conduct research on a company or an industry.
- Join various groups, such as alumni associations at your school, or industry groups of interest. Find out salary information about positions of interest.
7.6 Networking Case Studies
- Practice networking case studies to better understand how to build a sustainable network.
- Appreciate the nuances that are involved when you build relationships during your career search.
Case studies are a great way to “practice” your networking skills, which is always a wise thing to do. They teach you how to network better in a variety of situations.
Case Study 1
Your mentor introduces you to her colleague who introduces you to a business lead (say Jane Smith), who consents to an informational interview. You send your mentor’s colleague a nice thank-you and schedule the interview. The interview is substantive, and you send Jane Smith a nice thank-you. Two weeks later you get a formal interview, which you schedule for later. Are you done for now?
Case Study 2
You get an informational interview with a managing director, Jeff Roberts, in the boutique firm that specializes in exactly what you want to do. He asks you to coordinate with his assistant to get on his calendar. You call her to schedule the meeting. After the interview, you send Jeff Roberts a nice thank-you. Have you completed the interview etiquette?
Case Study 3
You are late for a 1:30 interview at a company’s headquarters and by the time you get there, it’s about 1:25. You go to the security desk, but bypass the X-ray area, so they redirect you there. You get a bit huffy. You rush to the elevator and fail to keep it open for a woman who is trying to get in. When you finally make it upstairs, you are escorted to the office, and asked to wait for a moment or two. When the person with whom you are meeting finally arrives, you recognize each other: you didn’t save the elevator for her. What do you do?
Case Study 4
You are scheduled for a second interview on a Friday, at 5 p.m. You are invited to attend the company’s weekly happy hour and afterward meet with some of the team privately for one-on-one interviews. You wear an interview suit and discover everyone else is wearing jeans. At your first interview, they had all worn business casual. “Jeans are allowed on Friday,” someone calls out. Are you appropriately dressed? What if you get called in the next Friday—what do you wear?
Case Study 5
You are very interested in working for two companies, and fortunately, you are in final rounds with both. You receive the first offer, and feel strongly that you will accept—in fact, you know you will if you get the second offer. The deadline for the first offer is a week away. The second company calls to schedule a final round. What do you tell them?
Case Study 6
You are in a two-on-one interview. One person is a line business manager and is taking the lead in the interview; the other person is an HR representative and does not say much. How do you conduct yourself during the interview and how do you interact with each person?
Case Study 7
You are attending a school-sponsored networking event with your classmates and representatives from a top marketing firm. You strike up a conversation with a company person and realize that several of your classmates have gathered to either contribute to your discussion or ask their own questions of the company representative with whom you are speaking. You first finish with the conversation before turning to your classmates and acknowledging their presence. Is this good or bad networking behavior? Why?
Case Study 8
You have accepted an invitation to attend training with the office of career services because a representative from a top company will be giving an overview of their business. At the last minute, you need to cram for an exam. In addition, you also do not feel well, so you decide not to attend. Is this is good or bad networking behavior? Why?
Case Study: Things to Consider
Here are key points to consider for each of these case studies, which will help you build upon your networking skills.
Case Study 1
The topic is “Mentor Introductions and Follow-Up”:
- Always keep your mentor in the loop. They want to know you are taking their advice and reaping the fruits of your efforts. Your mentor is there to help you succeed.
- Maintain good relationships with everyone with whom you come into contact, and you will benefit in the long run. Sending thank-you notes shows good manners and an appreciative attitude, and it’s a good way to stay connected.
- Be aware of the matrixA pattern that helps to organize organizations or processes. relationships all around you. When you land a position in a corporation, you can often have three or four different managers. Navigating these individuals with ease separates you from those who have difficulty doing so.
Case Study 2
The topic is “Informational Interview Follow-Up”:
- It’s always wise to thank everyone who has helped you to land interviews and coordinate schedules. This includes administrative staff.
- Administrative assistants often carry influence with their manager, so the extra step to extend thanks for their efforts is good manners and good career management.
Case Study 3
The topic is “Late for an Interview”:
- You only get one chance to make a first impression!
- You have to apologize, give a short explanation, and move on quickly.
- You next redirect your focus to the interview at hand and do your very best.
Case Study 4
The topic is “Business or Business Casual Dress”:
- When in doubt, always dress in business attire. You had no idea it was dress-down Friday, so it was wise for you to wear a suit.
- When you get called back the following Friday, you remember that jeans are allowed on Friday. Jeans are allowed, but that doesn’t mean everyone wears them. The more senior people may wear khakis, and if you wore jeans, you could be dressed inappropriately (i.e., more casually than the senior managers). Remember that you are not yet an employee; you are still a candidate, so dress more conservatively.
- When interviewing in different industries, keep in mind that different dress protocols apply, for example, nuances in media are dramatically different from financial services.
Case Study 5
The topic is “Multiple Offers”:
- The most impressive candidates communicate well and let recruiters and hiring managers know that they have options. It’s especially impressive when they communicate deadlines so appropriate actions can be taken.
- If you know you want a position with a company and you know you will accept its offer, take yourself out of the running for the second opportunity. It shows (a) confidence, (b) goodwill, and (c) your thoughtfulness in giving other candidates a chance to interview. The positive qualities and effects of this decision just go on and on!
- On the other hand, it’s always good to explore all options. Definitely let the second company know that you have received an offer from another company. Exploring this second company may help you decide which company you prefer. Perhaps they will expedite the interview process because they really want you, and then you can make a more informed decision.
Case Study 6
The topic is “Live Interviewing with Multiple Interviewers”:
- Acknowledge the business manager and the HR representative and treat both with utmost respect. When answering the business manager’s questions, direct your answer to both parties and maintain eye contact with both.
- Remember, at all stages of the interview and job search process, you are constantly marketing yourself and selling your abilities.
- You have no idea which person is the real decision maker.
- Ask each interviewer questions and tailor your questions to the interviewer.
- You may be in other situations when you are in a group, yet talking mostly to one person. Be polite and address and acknowledge all members in the group.
- Remember that the HR representative has the ability to direct you to another business, should your interview with this particular business not go as well as you would like.
Case Study 7
The topic is “Being Inclusive at a Networking Event”:
- Always include others in your conversation; this is both thoughtful and polite.
- Encourage others to ask questions. You can always learn from their questions and the responses they receive.
Case Study 8
The topic is “Office of Career Services Training Session”:
- If you have accepted an invitation to attend an event, barring a medical emergency, you should make every effort to attend. Your attendance is a reflection of your commitment.
- If you absolutely cannot attend, make sure you contact someone in career services and let them know why you cannot attend. Simply not showing up is in poor taste and disrespectful of other people’s efforts on your behalf.
- If you don’t show and there is a poor turnout, the company sponsoring the business overview may decide to do fewer events with the school or pull out altogether.
- Case studies are an excellent way to learn about proper networking etiquette.
- If you are in a position where you are not sure what to do, consult someone with the relevant expertise, including someone in career services if at all possible.
- Good networking behavior can influence your success in the job search.
- If in doubt, always dress professionally for networking activities with firms, even if it’s well known that their dress code is casual.
- Pair up with a team of five classmates to create your own networking etiquette case studies, preferably using something that truly happened. Share your case studies in class to continue the learning.
7.7 Chapter Review and Exercises
We know the importance of networking. For job searches and career advancement, networking enables you to hear about unadvertised jobs or plum projects that could propel your career forward. A strong network is also beneficial for day-to-day personal needs—finding a good doctor, checking on a contractor, discovering a good place for Mexican food.
How do you know your network is strong enough to support you professionally and personally? Every few months, you should test the strength of your network:
For example, if there is a position open at Pfizer and you think you would be a very strong fit for that position, is there someone in your network that you can contact that may lead you to someone within that company? It could be someone at Pfizer or at a company that recently merged with Pfizer. It could even be a competitor to Pfizer, as competitors often know and network with each other. Testing your network is a wise thing to do because you can then strengthen it proactively.
If you have fewer than twenty-five strong professional contacts you could reach out to now, your network is too small. If you have deep, quality connections with a small number, this is a good start, but you also need quantity in your network. Make it a priority to meet new professional contacts. If you have the quality and the quantity, but you don’t feel like you could reach out today, then you have an issue with maintaining your network. Make it a priority to follow up with people you already know. As a bonus test, ask yourself how many people you could contact for personal needs. Look at the quantity but also the variety in your personal network.
When was the last time you had lunch or a cup of coffee with a contact other than your day-to-day colleagues or closest friends? If it is has been more than a month or you cannot remember, this is a danger sign that your networking is too insularNarrow or isolated.. You are not exposing yourself to diverse perspectives. Remember the preceding point about how important it is to maintain your network. Earmarking some lunch hours for your networking contacts is a great way to follow up with your network.
Mentors can be a tremendous help when you need to network. When you need some off-the-record advice or candid feedback, do you have people you can query who understand your role, your company, and your industry? If not, then you are not taking advantage of mentorship in your career. Mentors are more than senior people who can move you to the next level by sheer influence, although such a powerful type of mentor can have a place in your career. Mentors can also be your peers and often are colleagues who have an insight you don’t have and are willing to share it with you. Maybe they have been at the company longer and have a great sense of the politics; maybe they are superstrong presenters and can be your practice audience before you have a big meeting.
Networking isn’t something you can cram into last-minute efforts. A strong network is built over time and with deliberate attention to the quantity and quality of the contacts. Audit your network on a regular basis (set Outlook to remind your quarterly) so that you consciously tend to your network before you face a crisis situation.
No one likes a person who reaches out only when they need something. No one wants to be the person who needs something, but feels all alone. Build a strong network so that you can make requests without imposing. Build a strong network so you don’t have to go it alone.
- Networking is defined as establishing a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship of give and take, with an emphasis on the give.
- Networking is about quality and quantity.
- The power of networking is infinite because people who know, like, and trust you will open their networks to you.
- Networking has four stages: research, approach, follow-up, and request.
- Proactively reconnect with contacts, but your first reconnection should not include a request.
- Your networking pitch is crucial to your job search and should be written, edited, and practiced until it’s delivered in a confident and proactive manner.
- Networks must be built consistently, on a daily basis.
- Even if you are shy, you can use simple strategies to build a network.
- Many on-campus venues exist for meeting people and building your network, including student clubs, career services, professors, and so on.
- Definite strategies can be used to include senior people and recruiters in your network.
- Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can be used in a variety of ways to increase your networking ability.
- Digital dirt can hurt your candidacy with recruiters and hiring managers alike. Present yourself professionally in person and online.
- Case studies can help to ensure business etiquette on your part and on the part of others.
- How do you define networking?
- Why would a person open up their network to you?
- What are the four stages of networking and why must they occur sequentially?
- How do you reconnect with old contacts without seeming disingenuous?
- How do you follow up with new and old networking contacts? Name three to four ways of doing so.
- What are the key components of a networking pitch?
- How do you construct a networking pitch?
- How do you build your network on an ongoing basis?
- How can you use a 2 × 2 matrix to build your network?
- What questions can you ask during networking events to help get the conversation started?
- What strategies exist for building a network, even if you are shy?
- How can you build a network on campus and with whom?
- How can you include senior people in your network? What about recruiters?
- What social networking sites can help you network more effectively?
- What is digital dirt and how can it hurt your job search strategies?
- What are the differences among LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Doostang?
- How can you create your own networking case studies to continue your learning? Reviewing case studies in effective networking behavior can be helpful in the overall process.
Contact Manager is the place to store information about your contacts, how you know them, their personal information, information about their organization, and a record of your interactions. Everything you need to know about each contact is conveniently located in one place.
Spend some time reviewing the kind of information you can save for each of your contacts. Note that SuccessHawk provides you sample icebreakers to get a conversation started and questions to ask to keep conversations going. You will find that these features adjust as your relationship with the contact develops.
To populate Contact Manager manually, click on Add New Contact in the Contacts section of My Workspace and fill out as much information as you can in the forms provided. Or you can upload basic contact information from Microsoft Outlook, Apple Address Book, Gmail, Hotmail, and others by clicking on Import Contacts in the Contacts section of My Workspace and following the appropriate directions.
You can view a complete list of your contacts by clicking on View Contacts. Note that you can organize your contacts by the company for which they work, organizations to which they belong, your last interaction with them, or by the status of your relationship:
- People you know
- Referred contacts
To open an individual’s contact information page, simply click on the person’s name.