So many websites beckon with the promise of exactly the leads you want. You are enticed by job boards and feel the inescapable demand of job search engines. As a power user you set alerts to your job title and favorite companies and feel compelled to check the results by the hour. You probably have hundreds of entries awaiting via gist.com or any number of other information aggregators. And scanning LinkedIn for jobs, people you know and companies is just too powerful to resist.
But resist you must. While online research is imperative for a successful job search, over reliance on digital resources can impact the time it takes to land a job. There is no substitute for personal contact. As an executive/technology professional, sharing ideas and wisdom is part of your search. And bonding with people over shared interests is the key to unlocking that networking door. Doing so in person amplifies the potential to be remembered and thought of when a job opening appears in your contacts’ radar.
Pick up the phone. Hard as it is to do, using the phone is more powerful than using email. Prepare. Craft an enticing phone message and deliver it with energy and conviction and you will probably receive an encouraging response. By contrast, if you send email, nuance is impossible to detect and in fact, you are more likely to misinterpret ‘busy’ or ‘style’ for rejection. A telephone call gives you opportunity to detect the positive response and create a bond.
Phones are so last year. Today’s technology trumps the phone. “I don’t want to be seen as old fashioned.” Email may be more modern than phones, but human nature didn’t change when email became popular. People like personal contact and feel a stronger bond to those with whom they actually speak to than those whose email they gave only a cursory read. In fact, there is no guarantee the email even reached them.
People don’t want to be interrupted with my call. Why would you assume that? If you leave a message and it isn’t returned within a week, you can make that assumption. But not before you pick up the phone. People want to help. It makes them feel good. In fact, for a lot of people, helping (introducing) qualified candidates to their network enhances their own feelings of worth and they like talking to people they can help. The sense of immediacy is also on your side. If you make your request clear and simple, it is more likely to get an immediate response than if you send an email which can be cast aside for a ‘better’ time. And who was ever annoyed by referring or finding just the right candidate for a job opening?
Attend industry and networking events. Attending events during job search is an especially daunting task. Yet it is a valid and effective way to meet people who can assist with your job search.
“I don’t know what to say.” Prepare for any event with fine tuning your elevator pitch. When someone asks where you work or what you do, you won’t stammer. Make it short sweet and NOT about asking for help. You can follow up another time if the person may be a good contact. Instead, use your conversations starters to engage them.
“Noone I want to meet goes to these events.” And you know that how? Each event attracts a variety of attendees from job seekers (valuable contacts) and sales executives (who sell to your most desired contacts) to industry leaders and those who work with them. Every accountant or lawyer in attendance is a prospective lead to the very people to whom you desire an introduction. Professional recruiters use events to forge long-term relationships with people. The more often they see you at industry events, the more likely they are to associate you with an industry player. Don’t be a drive by attendee. Attend the same ones frequently.
Use your hobbies to connect. Focus on your golf game. Cliché’s aside, join the most prestigious country club you can afford and spend time there. Consider the expense of membership an investment in your career. Bring your significant other, be part of the community. Participate in planning and organizing for hosted competitions.
No need to debate the stereotypes of executives and golf. Just accept that many highly placed notables play golf. There is instant rapport and kinship among members and as long as folks know what you do when you don’t play golf, they will remember you the next time a position opens. Don’t solicit job leads. You will quickly become persona non grata at the clubhouse. If you meet someone you like and want to know better, follow-up in a week or so for lunch.
Come prepared with your elevator pitch, business cards and an open mind. You never know where help for your job search will come from. Creating a bond over a shared experience is a solid maneuver to get to the right people. Plus, you share a guilty secret.
So get on the slopes mid-week. Play a round of golf or race down that mountain bike trail. Hang out in the club house and 19th hole.
You may have hobbies or interests that need to be reignited. And don’t forget to include religious or cultural organizations where appropriate. This is not the time to strip your life of activities, even ones where you aren’t guaranteed association with networking targets; their significant others may be a member of your group.
Leave the keyboard behind and get in front of people. It may be stressful at first, but the human contact and affirmation are valuable aspects of maintaining self confidence, not to mention real world visibility; essential for the executive and technology professional job search.