Networking is the strongest foundation that you can have for a successful job search. For some people, it is also fun. How wonderful for all you extraverts out there who love to talk about anything to anyone. But everyone doesn't feel that way. And it is very hard for a great many people. One thing you can do to help yourself along, whether you relish the idea of networking or you dread it, the key to being successful at it is to prepare for your networking meetings. You don't want to waste their time, after all, they are doing you a favor, and besides, this is a meeting about your career, you want to be focused and put together.
So here are a few tips.
Conducting the Networking Meeting
Conduct your networking session the way you would any professional meeting. Be sociable, show interest in the other person, but be focused on meeting your objectives and securing the information.
Begin the meeting by thanking the person for agreeing to meet with you and by telling them you will take no more than the previously agreed upon time.
You may then want to tell them a little bit about yourself by stating portions of your 30 second commercial, (if you haven't written one yet, refer to our blog entitled Writing your 30 Second Commercial) That will give your contact some information about you that will give them context in which to help you.
A nice transition statement for you to begin to get information from your contact is to say, “The way you could be helpful to me is…”
Your contact may want to hear more about your background before responding, or may want to look at your resume first. Offer them the options.
Another way to begin is to refer back to your telephone call: “As I mentioned, when we spoke on the phone, I am exploring opportunities in the investment field and would like to hear from you where you see the growth areas…”). Continue asking questions and creating a dialogue. Your ultimate goal is to obtain names of at least three other people in your desired field, that you can connect with to obtain more information.
Be sure you are well prepared, mindful of time constraints, and most of all, appreciative of your contact's time and expertise. Don't feel like you have to stick to your script or plan. Remember President Eisenhower said: "Planning is everything, plans are nothing." Make your plan, and then follow the paths that are most interesting and helpful.
Following Up After the Networking Meeting
After your meeting, it is so important to be appreciative. Follow up each networking meeting or phone call by sending a thank you letter or email within one day of the meeting. A hand written note is always nice, but if you are uncomfortable with that, an email is acceptable. Be prompt with your thank you, and be sure to mention something specific that the person helped you with.
It is also nice to ask if there is anything you can do to assist your networking contact. You should be thinking about any contacts you can help them with, or a nice gesture you can do in return for their time and energy. Networking is not just a job search technique to master, it is an important way to expand your community and give back to others.
You should also be sure to keep a record of each meeting and the information that was shared with you. Staying organized and creating a file that you can refer to is very helpful as your networking continues to expand.
Over the years I have known many reluctant networkers learn to really enjoy the networking process once they knew the keys to success. You will get to know lots of really nice people, and usually, at some point along the way you will have a chance to return the favor and help someone else.
If you have any questions about networking, reply to this blog with a comment, or send me an email. I will be happy to respond to you.
You suspected that your department would be caught up in the downsizing. You tried to think about who would be let go. You hoped it wouldn't be you, but thought it could be your turn. You had a plan in mind for how you would react. What you would say, who you would call. And now here you sit with your manager and an HR person. They are talking, but you can't really take in anything beyond the first sentence. "Unfortunately, your job has been eliminated"
The world stops turning for just a second, and you wonder if you can get your breath. No matter how hard you try to prepare for those words, the reality of your situation leaves you stunned and speechless.
I have been with many displaced employees immediately after that conversation, and usually they say something like: "I am shocked but not surprised", "I thought it might be coming" or sometimes, "I wasn't expecting this at all". The change in your life is hard to take in all at once. Losing your job affects not only your financial situation, but your sense of who you are. How you spend your time and who you see on a daily basis.
You pull yourself together and try to listen to what they are saying. If your company is offering outplacement, you might be introduced to a counselor. Then you make that tough walk back to your office, get your car keys and cell phone, call your spouse or best friend and go home. Now what?
There are two things to do first, yes 2.
1A. Know that this is hard, and you can do it. You will get through this, it won't be easy, but you will. Think about a time that you faced a challenge in the past. How did you deal with that? What sustained you through the dark moments? Family? Faith? Tenacity? If you will take a little time, breathe deeply and think about it, you will remember that you have overcome difficulties and hard times in your life. You have the ability to get through this. Take that in and own it.
1B. The second first thing you should do is access expert help. If your company has offered you outplacement, call the outplacement counselor, get connected sooner rather than later. You might be tempted to delay, but the sooner you get connected with someone who knows how to help you through this, the better off you will be. If you have not been offered outplacement, find out who in your community offers career transition services. In some areas the community colleges have services, in some areas the local Goodwill, a community group, or sometimes churches sponsor career transition groups. If there is nothing like that near you, there is help on the web. There is lots of information available, some for a fee, and lots for free. You don't have to do this alone, and getting help is one way to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that are common when this process is new to you.
Finding a new job takes time, energy and lots of work. You will have many tasks to accomplish, you will need a new accomplishments based resume and you will need to know how to write cover letters and how to talk about yourself in a concise and effective way. Learning to network effectively is important, and of course, there is interviewing, if you haven't done that in a while it can be a little intimidating. So, there will be plenty to DO. But first, before you begin all the "doing", spend some time reflecting, then reach out for help and support. You will be glad that you did.
This is the seventh installment in our series of short blogs discussing Job Searching Truths. Please feel free to comment on our postings and to create a dialogue with other members of our community. We welcome your participation!
Job Search Truth #7: Your family, friends and business associates cannot help you find a new opportunity if you don’t ask for their help. Having to find a new job is not only stressful, it is often embarrassing. Many new job seekers find themselves wanting to "protect" their family and friends by keeping their situation as quiet as possible.
What this does, however, is prevent them becoming vital components in your job search process. And it stops them from being able to help as much as they would like or as much as they are able.
Bring them into the loop and engage their creativity as you move along your path to a new position, and they will appreciate having the opportunity to help.
This is the sixth installment in our series of short blogs discussing Job Searching Truths. Please feel free to comment on our postings and to create a dialogue with other members of our community. We welcome your participation!
Job Search Truth #6: Companies cannot hire you and recruiters cannot place you if they are unaware of your availability. Networking is the single-most important element of your job search process. Getting to know people who know other people, developing relationships with individuals who are knowledgeable of their business and industry--these are the key parts of successful networking.
Your ultimate networking goal is to have a stranger call you and ask you to apply for a position after they have talked with someone you met through networking!
This is the fifth installment in our series of short blogs discussing Job Searching Truths. Please feel free to comment on our postings and to create a dialogue with other members of our community. We welcome your participation!
Job Search Truth #5: The job search process is difficult for everyone involved. Your friends and family will want to help you, but they will often not know how to do that. Or they will not be in a position to be able to.
What often happens is that help will often come from unexpected sources. As a result, you will probably be thrilled by the help you get from people you least expect, and very disappointed by the lack of response you get from people you thought would help.
This dynamic is a normal part of the process, so it is important to understand that your friends and family are trying to help, but they may not be able to. And the kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze.
This is the fourth installment in our series of short blogs discussing Job Searching Truths. Please feel free to comment on our postings and to create a dialogue with other members of our community. We welcome your participation!
Job Search Truth #4: Many candidates meet all the position specifications; offers are extended to the individuals who have the best “fit” or chemistry for the organization. Remember, do not take rejections personally.
This is Part Seven and the last of our series of blogs on Career Transition. Please feel free to add your comments and insights to the discussion, and check back with us daily for additional suggestions.
Career Transition Suggestion #7: Anticipate Varying Levels of Assistance
When you move your career transition process out of the family and into the public, it is good to know what to expect. What you will likely find is that people in general are willing to assist others—even individuals they don’t know. Some will be less helpful, but very few will be abrasive.
The most important thing is to ask others for something that they can give--not something that they can't. For example, asking for information about their company is something most people can respond to easily. Asking for a job is not. Use your contacts as part of your network and you should have good success with them. So be prepared and be willing to ask for assistance.
This is Part Six of our series of blogs on Career Transition. Please feel free to add your comments and insights to the discussion, and check back with us daily for additional suggestions.
Career Transition Suggestions #6: Constantly Improve Your Efforts. Never Apologize for your Situation.
Be prepared to modify your strategy and approach as you gain experience. Reward yourself periodically for a job well done. Don’t allow yourself any loss of self-esteem. You are not your job title, and are still the same (or better) person you were before you left your job.
Employment, while important, does not in the least define who you are. Make note of the positive things you’ve experienced and the value you bring to all aspects of your life.
This is Part Five of our series of blogs on Career Transition. Please feel free to add your comments and insights to the discussion, and check back with us daily for additional suggestions.
Career Transition Suggestion #5: Accept the Support of Others
Working through a career transition is a deeply emotional experience. Some individuals manage this by reaching out to as many people as they can. Others go inside themselves and begin cutting off or restricting contact with others as they go through the healing process.
Our suggestion at AFPD is to begin with family. Let your family members know what you are experiencing and, most importantly, how they can assist you. Relying on their support can create a team effort and a positive working environment for you. After all, you would likely be happy to help your family and colleagues if they were in transition.
When allowing your family into the loop, make certain that you acknowledge the adjustments your family members will make as a result of your job loss. They will be affected by these circumstances just as you are, and they will be able to help more effectively if they have good, honest information.
This is the third installment in our series of short blogs discussing Job Searching Truths. Please feel free to comment on our postings and to create a dialogue with other members of our community. We welcome your participation!
Job Search Truth #3: You will be thrilled by the help you get from the people you least expect it to come from.
Most of us want to help others. Complete strangers like to talk about their companies, about their jobs, about the culture of their organization. When you begin the networking process, you will likely be surprised at how people will want to help you. You just need to set the situation up so that they can.
The irony of this is that the enthusiasm and cooperation from strangers is likely to be matched by the lack of response you get from people you thought would help. Keep your eyes open for this dynamic, and don't hesitate to ask for what you need.