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How I networked to land the job

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I volunteer often enough to help those in job search — those that have been downsized, upsized, right-sized, and supersized due to outsourcing, insourcing, offshoring, outboarding, inboarding, waterboarding, and anything and everything else you can imagine. And what do job searchers tell me? There are no jobs!

Hey, it may seem that way if all you’re doing is applying online like everyone else. But are you talking to people? Leveraging connections? Leaving no stone unturned? Getting out of the house? Saying the right things? Going to the right places? Meeting the right people?

I’m guessing probably not. Or at least not enough.

Here’s an actual story from Dan, a former executive of one of my client firms. I had lunch with Dan two months ago and he gave me the lowdown of how his position was eliminated. He had just landed another executive position at a higher level. Here’s how he did it:

I met with as many people as I could to merely pick brains. Best advice I got was to leave no stone unturned. People want to help — you just need to know how to ask them. You never know who others you know may know. 

I also started a weekly lunch meeting with a colleague to get out of the house but also to interact and share ideas. Another colleague that I spoke with was also in job search so I asked her to join the group. As we continued to meet, that colleague was approached by a recruiter about one role but was asked if she knew someone for another role. She then passed along my name and the rest is history.

I truly believe that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The key to networking is a relentless pursuit of doing the unsexy plodding stuff day in and day out. That’s what made the difference.

You may not be looking for a job. But you probably are looking for more business — more clients, more referrals, more connections, more policies, more listings, more something.

The same rules apply! Let me amplify some of the points Dan made above as they may work for you as you look to grow your practice.

Meet with as many people as you can. Well, for starters anyway. Whether you’re in job search or looking to get your next client, it’s important to meet with as many people as you can initially. You want to bring as many people as possible up to speed about what you’re looking for, while getting advice and getting introduced to others that can help you. As you get the message out there, you’ll soon realize that not everyone you speak with can or will help you, so you’ll want to focus on those you like the most and have the most impact on your mission.

You need to be specific about what you want. Dan didn’t mention this one but I thought I’d throw it in for good measure. It’s important for you to be specific about the type of business you’re after. What industry, profession, market segment, niche, dynamic, demographic, etc. do you want most of your clients to come from? You may think that it doesn’t matter but it does. Why? Because the more specific you are with your request, the more helpful others can be. Also, from a networking standpoint, you’ll have a better understanding of where to go, what to say, and with whom.

Get as much information as possible. Yes, the more information you get the better. But information about what? The marketplace you’re looking to capture — how can you add value and help solve problems? The places you need to go — to learn more about that marketplace, become visible and known, meet the most influential people in that marketplace. Then, focus on building relationships while you continue to get more recognized.

You need to ask the right questions. If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers. If you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no. So ask great questions and get great answers. These questions are a good starting point. As a financial advisor, realtor, estate planning attorney, or whatever, I’m looking to get more involved with industry X. What would be the best way to learn more about that industry? What are the most prominent professional associations? Who are considered the key players locally, regionally, nationally? Who in the industry is recognized for doing what I’m looking to do? Do you know them? What are the top publications? What would you do to get involved if you were me? Who would you suggest I meet first? Would you be open to introducing me? What are you focused on these days and how can I help? 

You never know who knows whom. It’s true. You never know whose nephew is the grand poobah of the world you’re looking to break into or the company you’re looking to work for. This gets back to never judge a book by its cover and be specific and clear about what you’re after. In the good old days (before social media), the average business person knew anywhere between 150 and 550 people. These days, people are connected to thousands so you never know who might know what about whom.

Organize regular meetings. Having a system is great as it forces you to be focused and consistent on a regular basis. Whether it’s establishing regular phone meetings (every 30 days), face to face meetings over lunch, or creating a group that convenes every week, it’s important to have something in place. How many systems do you have in place that force you to engage in revenue producing activities (RPA’s)?

Do the heavy lifting every day. Every day! Get yourself into good daily habits. Every morning, read an article related to your industry, area of expertise, or marketplace. Listen to an audio or watch a video that inspires you, make five business calls, post a Tweet, schedule a lunch appointment, send an email to someone you haven’t spoken with in 6 months, write a handwritten note to a client and snail mail it. Whether your focus is job search, fitness, health and wellness, your golf game, developing important relationships, or your marketing strategy, consistency is the key to success. What areas in your world do you want to have the most success? What are the three things you could be doing every day to insure that success?

Let the plodding begin!



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