What is Your Priority as a Job Seeker?

So often getting a job hangs on a slender thread. A VERY slender thread. Perhaps you mentioned your job search casually to a neighbor who told a friend of hers, who told her husband, who told his boss, who told his supervisor–you get the idea.

 With that in mind, your top priority is to meet as many people as you can to introduce yourself and your qualifications. Not only neighbors, friends and past colleagues, but the butcher, the baker and the candlestick makers as well. Or their modern day equivalent! 

Think about the people you see on a daily basis: your banker, your doctor, your pharmacist, your child’s teacher, your child soccer coach, your child’s scout leader, your mailman… you get the idea! Don’t ever pre-judge the potential for someone to be of assistance to you: make every contact count.

 When interviewing, treat everyone—from the janitor and the receptionist to the Human Resources Director and the Vice President—with the same professional courtesy and demeanor. Your ultimate goal: to make a favorable impression on anyone (and everyone) who assists you in your search for a position.

 The smaller the company, the shorter the ‘feedback chain’ will be—i.e. word tends to travel faster about that ‘stuck up blond who thought she was the cat’s meow’ or that ‘great guy with such a nice smile’  in an office with fewer people.

 From the minute you walk in for your interview, until the minute you leave, you will be under the microscope. Not only will your competencies and qualifications be evaluated, but you will also be judged on the way you look and the way you behave. 

 By treating everyone–regardless of position or rank–with the same respect as you would like to be treated yourself and you’re likely to enhance your chances of a receiving rave reviews… and just maybe, an offer of employment!

 

Yes, Job Hunters: Establishing Rapport IS Crucial to Your Success!

Unfortunately for those of you who border on the introverted, who you know really DOES matter—to say nothing of how you relate to them.  In fact, the relationships you establish (or fail to establish) will often mean the difference between success and failure.

Think about any of the social events you’ve been to recently. Undoubtedly, you’ve observed a couple of people chatting animatedly with another person in a corner of their own, seemingly on the way to creating something great–and having a great time simultaneously.

It is usually true that it takes time to create rapport and a lot of it.  But, in today’s society, there things happen instantly, thanks to the like of e mail, Twitter and Face book, and people have had to adjust their entire ways of doing business. It’s almost as though we have given ourselves permission to rush through the pleasantries to get to the ‘real stuff.’

One of the best ways to ‘shortcut’ the whole process is to make sure to make a positive first impression by maintaining eye contact, smiling frequently and reacting in a welcoming manner. 

After you’ve been introduced to someone new, your next task is to find some way to connect with them after your meeting/seminar/conference etc.is over. This means finding common elements in your background, upbringing or beliefs. We all seek to be understood, accepted and valued as human beings and the more open you are, the more people will tend to gravitate to you. And voila: a bond is born!

Now, it’s up to you to keep it alive. You can do this with thoughtful little gestures such as a birthday card, congratulatory note or e mail message just to reaffirm the fact that you’ree still interested in maintaining contact.  As time goes on, you will undoubtedly find occasions to share a meal or a dessert.

If you believe in yourself and are convinced of your ultimate success, others will be drawn to you and want to partner with you.

 

For those of you who don’t know it….

……networking isn’t some special skill or attribute that you turn on when you get to a meeting or event. Neither is it a talent that you use during select portions of you day. Instead, it is something that you SHOULD be using all of the time, every where you go—be it to work or to the supermarket.

The definition of networking is usually given as “building relationships with others.” To amplify that a bit, it is learning about other people. If you can come out of a business meeting of some type and recite 5 different things about 10 different people, then you’ve been doing your job and paying attention!

Of course, the normal temptation is to broadcast on an AM frequency—that is to say “About Me.” But, it is far more productive for you to use the other frequency: FM (Forget Me.)  Focus on the person standing in front of you. What has he/she done with her life, her career that might be of interest to you?  How can he/she contribute to your knowledge base?  Well: the only way to find out is to start asking questions.

Try to ask open-ended questions, instead of those that require a Yes/No answer. To wit: instead of asking someone how many years they have owned their company, try asking instead: “What was the hardest thing about creating the company you did, and why?” You should be able to learn a lot from the answer.

Whether you go to the supermarket, hardware store, dry cleaners, drug store, gym or pharmacy, you should ALWAYS be broadcasting on the FORGET ME frequency.  Find out what makes them do what they do.  Discover what they like and dislike. Talk about their favorite hobbies.  Discuss areas outside of the typical work purview.  But, try to avoid discussions about getting religion as they inevitably lead nowhere.

Even before you get to the ‘business stuff’ you should make it a point to know your new buddy. Compare notes on many children they have, what movies they’ve seen recently or where they’ve gone on vacation. Take the opportunity to suggest a restaurant you’ve just eaten in or a stage play you may have seen.  In short, get to know about them as a human being. Until you do, discussions about work will always be awkward and unnatural.

And, lest you think that just by giving out your business card that you are networking, think again. In actuality, you are just given people something else to throw away when they get back to their office. Make an attempt to follow up with a nice, personalized note and who knows….you might just talk your way into a new job!

How to Develop Instant Rapport Painlessly

Are you one of those people who start getting nervous about the networking meeting your boss wants you to attend as soon as it’s announced? 

Well, take a deep breath and follow these simple techniques. First, be enthusiastic and outgoing. Greet others with a smile, making good eye contact as you do. Shaking hands firmly with the contacts you meet sends a loud and clear message that you actually care about the other party.

 Next, probe for communalities: are they a sports enthusiast? Did you both major in the same subject? Does each of you have children? Do you belong to the same golf club? You need a reason to connect, and sharing meaningful experiences moves you ever closer to that goal. 

Make it a point to use their name in conversation. This will serve two purposes: first, others like to hear their own name, and secondly, by repeating it over, you’re more likely to remember it.  However, before you head down the ‘How’re-You-Doing-Jack-track, be sure to ask your contact what he would like to be called.  (Maybe he prefers to be called ‘Jacky.’) Courtesy dictates at any rate, that you ask the question.

 \With this nicety out of the way, relax and try to enjoy yourself.  Remember that the reason you are there is to identify people with whom you can establish a productive relationship. Try to meet as many individuals as you can, without appearing to be too superficial.

 Once you’ve made a genuine connection, take the time to follow up with it outside of the networking event. Send them a humorous all-purpose thank you card.  Invite them to join you for coffee or lunch. Find a reason to contact them. In short, remember to stay connected.

 Building a successful rapport takes time, effort and energy. But once you’ve taken the necessary step, the rest is a lot easier.

 

Blog Your Way to a New Job

How do I do that? you might ask? Not surprisingly, it involves having a consistent presence through your blogs. The other thing it involves is avoiding blatant self-promotion in order to GET a job. Blogging, like networking is a subtle art form that requires both persistence and patience in in order to forge relationships.

 This is not to say that you can’t tell people that you’re looking for a new position, but just that you should refrain from writing ’Hire Me!’ postings.

Think about this for a minute. What are employers looking for?  Intelligence? Experience? Knowledge? Technical capability? Personality? Sense of humor? Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes!  They’re looking for all of these trait. 

How can you—the lowly job seeker—become visible to a given employer? One extremely effective avenue to use is to set yourself up in a blogging arrangement and blog, blog, blog. 

Let’s assume that you have a background as a CPA who specializes in the preparation of income taxes for both individuals and small-medium sized businesses.  How can you use your knowledge?  One very effective technique is to start writing articles about a variety of situations. Encourage readers to ask questions and answer them in future blogs.

 Yes, of COURSE this takes effort and time, but, you’re unemployed, so what else have you go to do anyway? Eventually, if you keep at it long enough, your reputation will spread, and you will achieve ‘expert’ status which can quite possibly lead you to a job offer, and a good one at that! 

 

 

 

 

A Different Approach to Networking

If you’d rather have your arm amputated than attend networking meetings, you’re right up there with the majority of Americans. Why is this, you ask? If you are a more reserved and private person the act of networking (aka ‘schmoozing’) with others feels unnatural and artificial.

The commonly accepted concept of networking is that you must dress to impress, grab a pile of your business cards and set off to meet as many people as you possibly can in a two hour time frame. But, there IS an easier way.  Namely, that in your daily life you focus on creating meaningful relationships with colleagues, customers, clients and business associates on a regular basis.

If you think about it, you can accomplish wonders with just a smile and a friendly word. After all, there’s a good chance that the person you meet will be equally timid and looking for someone to guide him.  Once you do meet someone, the next step is easy. And that is to have a set of questions to ask him that will help you get to know what he’s all about.

An excellent first question is “How did you get where you are today?” A good second question is “What do you like/dislike most about your current career?” If he is self-employed, you might ask “If you had to create your business all over again, what would you do differently?’ And, by the way, this latter question gives you an opportunity to learn something!

Face it: people LOVE to talk about themselves, so by demonstrating interest in their favorite topic, you predispose them to like you. And that’s the very first step in cultivating a solid rapport. 

When you meet someone new, instead of worrying about handing him one of your business cards be sure to get his. That way, YOU are driving this boat and can call him up or e mail him when appropriate to do so. If you have a poor memory, it will be important for you to develop a way of remembering who the person is.

You might carry a small notebook in which you can jot a few details about the person such as ‘wearing a red tie, purple shirt and funky blue shoes’; or ‘worked selling popcorn at the zoo during college.’  Jot down any detail that will help you put his face with his name so that when he receives the note you send him the next day making reference to your conversation, he’ll conclude that you’re someone who is really on the ball.

Finally, remember that as you build your network of contacts you need to stay in touch with them consistently so that when you need something—like a job—they will be more inclined to help you if they can.

 

How to Develop Instant Rapport

Are you one of those people who start getting nervous about the networking meeting your boss wants you to attend as soon as it’s announced? 

Well, take a deep breath and follow these simple techniques. First, be enthusiastic and outgoing. Greet others with a smile, making good eye contact as you do. Shaking hands firmly with the contacts you meet sends a loud and clear message that you actually care about the other party. 

Next, probe for communalities: are they a sports enthusiast? Did you both major in the same subject? Does each of you have children? Do you belong to the same golf club? You need a reason to connect, and sharing meaningful experiences moves you ever closer to that goal. 

Make it a point to use their name in conversation. This will serve two purposes: first, others like to hear their own name, and secondly, by repeating it over, you’re more likely to remember it.  However, before you head down the ‘How’re-You-Doing-Jack-track, be sure to ask your contact what he would like to be called.  (Maybe he prefers to be called ‘Jacky.’) Courtesy dictates at any rate, that you ask the question. 

With this nicety out of the way, relax and try to enjoy yourself.  Remember that the reason you are there is to identify people with whom you can establish a productive relationship. Try to meet as many individuals as you can, without appearing to be too superficial. 

Once you’ve made a genuine connection, take the time to follow up with it outside of the networking event. Send them a humorous all-purpose thank you card.  Invite them to join you for coffee or lunch. Find a reason to contact them. In short, remember to stay connected. 

Building a successful rapport takes time, effort and energy. But once you’ve taken the necessary step, the rest is a lot easier!

 

Make Networking Less Painful

If networking and you are like oil and water, the above refrain is probably a familiar one to you. And likely as not, you end up obsessing about it and therefore are unable to even enjoy the food! 

Well: there’s another strategy that can work wonders for you. And that is, to simply pretend that you are a reporter whose mission it is to get as much information as you possibly can about as many people as possible.  This requires next to no ‘schmoozing’ at all.  Instead, your job is to simply think up questions to ask every single person you meet. 

Of course, this WILL require that you take the initiative and introduce yourself to someone–ANYone–by saying . ‘Hello, I’m Billy Beezelbub and this is my first time attending this event. I was wondering how many people you know in this room?  Then, all you have to do is sit back and LISTEN to what your partner says, (And, by the by: there will undoubtedly be some useful information coming your way, so have your note book ready.) 

What you’re really after during these functions is information: information about the people you meet, their companies, their competitors, their products, their marketing strategies and especially their hiring needs. And the best part is, all YOU have to do is ask the questions.  In fact, if you want, you can walk away from an evening with a pocketful of business cards, never having shared a single detail about yourself.

Why is this?  Because other people LOVE to talk about THEMSELVES!  Whether they’re discussing how they found their position, what their role in the company is or their plans for the future, it’s all about THEM and you’ve just given them permission to be on center stage. Now, you’re in the admirable position of just listening and asking clarifying questions. 

However, after speaking with someone be sure to locate a quiet corner of the room to write down what you’ve learned.  Don’t expect to come home with a basket full of job leads: it doesn’t work quite that way.  However, you WILL come home with  detailed knowledge about a variety of people and their professional experiences which will make you a much more efficient job seeker.

Note that during a network event, it’s generally bes to avoid the “J”: word  (J-O-B) altogether because it is your goal is to learn about everyone else. By following this advice, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the people you’ll meet will remember you as being ‘that nice guy’ they talked to….because you were probably the ONLY person in the room who DIDN’T want to sell them something! 

After your meeting is over, transcribe your handwritten notes on each conversation. The best way to do this is to put it into Excel where each field is searchable. And, don’t forget to send the obligatory thank you note: “Dear Bob: I write to thank you for the fascinating discussions we had about your company’s left-handed fishing rods. I learned a lot and enjoyed chatting with you. I will look forward to seeing you again.” 

Now, wasn’t that a distinctly less painful way to get through a networking event?

Holiday Celebrations as a Networking Venue? Y-E-S-S!

The holiday season is almost upon us and with it comes the usual flurry of luncheons, dinners, outing, parties and the like. 

Has it ever occurred to you that you can turn these events into your own personal networking events? Instead of gritting your teeth during the entire gathering, force yourself to approach it in a new and different way. Realize first of all that whatever the event, its purpose is NOT for you to have fun. Quite the contrary: this is the time for you to go to work! 

‘Huh?  But I thought it was a command performance social event.’ No, no, no! Just because all of your colleagues treat it that way does not make it so. First of all, when you first arrive, ‘eyeball’ the room and make a list of people with whom it would be beneficial to talk.  Make a deliberate attempt to include higher up management people on your list and walk casually over to them, extend your hand and say, “Hello… I work for XYZ department, and my name is……..: I’ve been wanting to meet you for the longest time!” 

Then go on to express interest in some facet of that person’s job. There’s a pretty good chance that in so doing, you’ll be remembered long after the party’s over.  Remember that we humans all have a favorite subject: I, myself and ME! So, be sure to think of something complimentary to say about the person. And, for goodness sake’s don’t trot out the tired old ‘Gee-what-a-nice-tie-you’re-wearing’ type of comment.

In fact, long after the carols have faded away and the gifts have been unwrapped, it’s a wise idea to continue to cultivate this new relationship of yours. Try to get together with the person at regularly scheduled intervals. If this proves to not be possible, drop him or her an e mail or give a call.

Second, however enticing the food looks, limit yourself to just a few bites and spend your time doing ‘meet and greets.’ (Why waste this opportunity? You can always stop at Burger King on your way home.)  Also, stick to soft drinks or juice as beverages so you’ll have your wits about you at all times. 

Finally, when you’ve made your rounds, and the festivities are over, make sure to send out a HANDWRITTEN note to all of your contacts, thanking them, for the delightful/inspiring/stimulating conversation and inviting them to get together at a specific date in the future. (That way, you’ll make sure to do it!) 

Retaining a relationship these days takes hard work but the future rewards can indeed be great! 

 

Cold Calling as a Job Search Technique

What do you mean: find yourself a job through ‘cold-calling?’  Oh, pul-lease. Didn’t that go out with the Fuller brush salesmen in the 1960’s?  How can any self-respecting job seeker these days stoop this low?  Well: read on! (If it makes you feel any better, call it ‘unsolicited job hunting.’)

To be successful you’re going to need a long, long list of prospect companies. You may want to group these by industry or by location, depending on which is most important to you.  The idea is that you’re looking for companies for which you see yourself working happily. 

Once you’ve compiled this list, start at the top and get your dialing finger ready. What you’ll be doing is calling each and every firm to see if you can pry the name of the Hiring Manager out of the receptionist. A word of warning here: he or she may have instructions from the higher-ups NOT to release that name. Likely as not, they will want to send you along to the H.R. office.  This won’t help you. 

After filling in the names of each hiring manager, you’ll need a kick-*** cover letter! The best strategy here is to say something about each company that will make it abundantly clear that you know something about its product line and how it operates.. Be sure to enclose a professional looking resume. (i.e. avoid cluttered, crowded text.)  Use interesting vocabulary to attract attention to yourself and be sure to highlight one or two skills that you can offer. 

Next, wait a few days and contact the people to whom you sent a letter/ e mail and ask them for an interview.  Of course, you’re bound to run into the usual complement of people who will tell you that their company isn’t hiring at the moment. Don’t despair. Ask them to set up what’s called an ‘informational interview’ so that you can learn more about the firm in preparation for a time when they ARE hiring. BE PREPARED FOR REJECTION!  

Once you book a meeting, you’ve got a chance to ‘wow’ them with your skills and personality. (Even though you are presenting this as an information interview, be sure to do your homework ahead of time and come prepared with intelligent questions about their new product line or their history as a firm.

Your ultimate goal is to meet as many people as you can, on the theory that SOME one, some where, might just see you as a perfect fit for a position in his/her department.

 But, don’t just make these contacts a one-time thing. Continue to send periodic letters, asking (politely) whether the hiring situation has changed. You’d also be well advised to enhance your own skill set by taking a class or two.  This will give you a good reason to communicate with them once again. 

Finally, don’t forget the value of a simple thank you letter expressing your appreciation for the time they spent with you. Persistence, persistence, persistence…is what will win the day!