RULE # 1
If you know somebody who will absolutely not have a job for you, then you must contact that person immediately. This is the unconditional key to networking success! If this sounds crazy to you, please keep reading...
What is successful career networking?
Everybody on the face of the planet who might recognize your brand (YOU) must come to know what YOU are up to. A good benchmark for successful networking is not just notifying people and having a pleasant conversation; rather, it's about connecting on a personal level and coming away with two or three solid referrals. If you do this properly, you will not need to be anxious about frustrating job-hunting activities, such as scouring the internet and chasing the ever elusive recruiter.
When done properly, reaching out to just twenty of your best network contacts may necessitate a full time assistant just to sustain the referral activity. I recently had a client who needed three assistants just to keep up! Does this describe what's transpiring in your career search? If not, you need to read this now.
Networking and job hunting don't mix-Are you cellophane adhesive tape?
The reason most executive job-seekers are horrible net-workers is that they are blindsided by the daunting sense of urgency brought on by the paradigm of modern day job hunting. You must separate networking from job hunting altogether. Job hunting, by definition and incident, is a frustrating process of sifting fool's gold from the internet while contacting people who you think might have a job for you today-right now, instantaneously! Looking for a job this way is like trying to find your soul mate/husband/wife on the bar scene. Sure you'll have a few dates, but they are usually superficial at best.
The hungry executive becomes so focused on pursuits of the job that he sometimes misses the much bigger picture. A successful net-worker must completely separate networking from job hunting.
Networking is purely a process of aggressively exercising your ready-made brand muscle amongst the people who know you; a progression of relentlessly leveraging your brand (YOU) while coming to learn that helping others is more important than helping yourself. (See below "Everybody is looking."
Before you know it, your buzz will be second nature for everybody who knows the brand. Branding is powerful. Don't think so? I still spell RELIEF: R-O-L-A-I-D-S! That slogan has stuck in my head since 1977. When is the last time you referred to Scotch Tape® as cellophane adhesive tape? Can't remember the last time I said, "Honey, have you seen the cellophane adhesive tape?" She wouldn't know what I was talking about. Are you cellophane adhesive tape? It's no surprise the brand-recognition for toilet paper is still up for grabs! Although Kleenex® does have unconventional uses I suppose...
How to launch your networking campaign
Anybody and everybody, including your butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, who know your brand (your name) must know what you are up to and how to find you. No, not a blurb on LinkedIn or Facebook. What I'm suggesting is an effectual heartfelt correspondence, penned from the tablet of your heart and submitted via snail mail(email is also acceptable, but US mail is better) to everyone on the planet who recognizes your brand; this is your warm market. Look at your check book. These people surely know who you are. Be sure they know of your job search transition.These people work for you. They owe you one! Let them know what you are up to.**Nobody does this, yet 90% of all new jobs at 200k+ will eventually come from somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody.**
If you would like more ideas on how to seek out and categorize your network, please send a request for our free NMJ document.
But I don't know anybody!
I will often ask executives how well networked they are within their circles of influence. Invariably, the answer comes back, "Oh man, I know everybody; sure, lots and lots of people. I've been in business for 25 years." It's amazing... they almost seem insulted that I would ask. A week later, we start their job search. I ask for their network and they say, "Hmmm, well I don't really know anybody." Go back and read "Networking and job hunting don't mix"above.
When I ask one of my clients for the names of the people at his gym or members of his clergy, he looks at me as if I have two heads! He thinks to himself: "This Seraichyk character is a kook!" This is because he is unable to separate personal brand building from job-hunting. When you think about calling Aunt Jean, who has been selling Amway/Avon for forty years, to inquire with reference to employment opportunities, it seems preposterous, illogical, and absurd! Aunt Jean in this (the networking scenario) is simply another human being who knows other human beings and is ALSO familiar with your brand. In other words, she is part and parcel of your warm market and she must be informed of your product launch.
Don't avoid the unemployed!
Is it worthwhile to network with people who are also looking for new employment?
Most people think they should only talk to other people who are presently employed in a specific capacity within a specific industry within a specific company who might have a specific job for them. This is job search futility and fatality.
When an exec is between jobs, it's the perfect time to get to know him/her. That person will land soon and will remember you when s/he does. Infact, it's more effective to network with people who are also looking for new employment. When these people are between jobs, they are accessible; once they land a new gig, you might never get to speak with them. It's too late. S/he's off and running on a new career venture and much too busy to be bothered. Alternatively, if you connect with him beforehand, you better believe he'll speak with you. His Rolodex® will be wide open. Moreover, if you can point him to one good contact in your network, he will never forget you. When he's running his next company, he will pay your favor forward. Additionally, once an executive has left, he is more likely to give you contacts from his last company as he does not have the same confidentiality concern. Also, don't forget to look at other companies he has worked for and ask for contacts there as well. Furthermore, because he has been searching and talking to other execs and recruiters, he is more likely to be aware of recent opportunities that might be better for you than for him.
The meek will inherit the Kingdom of Networking
Everybody wants to connect with the CEO, the chief, the king pin, the corner office dwellers of America...Not an easy thing to do and most often without solution. You will find it much easier to speak with lower level professionals. These common folk, like you and I, are always more willing to speak with you because they aspire to be where you are one day. Maybe you can tell them how you did it in trade for a referral. Don't forget to remind them that most larger companies will pay referral bonuses to existing employees who refer new hires. I've seen some big bonuses paid out to existing employees who are paying attention and referring key talent to their companies!
If you are not in Transition, you are in Denial
Employed executives are never content. If you are a successful executive, scaling the cliff face of success is as routine for you as is the coffee break for the guy who wants your job but is too busy drinking coffee. If this were fallacy, you wouldn't be where you are today.
When you reach out to people in your network, whether they are employed or unemployed, never make it about you and, by no means, come across as needy or in a bad position due to job loss. Be sure to give the impression that you have lots going on...You are contacting your friend, comrade, or x-boss to simply say hello and to let them know what you are up to. The best way to start this conversation is to ask them how their career is going. No matter what they tell you, I assure you, they are open for something better. Talk about how somebody in your network might help them. Once you've accomplished this, you simply say,"Oh yes, by the way. I'm contemplating a move myself."And then dig for three names from his/her Rolodex® (for those under 40, a Rolodex® is not a watch; that's Rolex®).This pre-Bill Gates technology is an astoundingly steadfast and reliable system for storing contact names and information, requires no electricity, never crashes, costs about $10.00, and you don't have to upgrade every 90 days! You may not get a sneak peek at the Rolodex®; you may not even get a name on the first call. But if things go well, schedule a follow up and try again.