Traditional networking can be extremely time-consuming and sometimes demeaning. We have a precise philosophy about networking.
Your Networking Should Focus on Specific Industries
Networking should have a focus on specific industries which have characteristics that make you a good match. Since networking becomes a process of getting people to share your biography with other decision makers, a superior resume is a must.
One of the first things you should do is develop a list of friends, business acquaintances and relatives who may be in jobs where they can offer you the position you seek. Getting a job with personal contacts is the easiest way to get a new job. Chances are, however, that very few people will be able to offer what you want. So, the best you can hope for is that they may be in a position to help you in your search, refer you to others and so on.
This is where networking comes in. It involves an effort to get referrals to strangers. Random networking can work for people at lower income levels. At 0,000 and above, it can be an extremely time-consuming and expensive way to look for a job.
Now, how many people you network is strictly an individual matter. We had one executive client develop a list of 750 people she knew who could be of help.
Remember, you can use our private website to quicklyfind executives to target. For example, you can uncover successful people who went to your college, executives featured in articles and much more.
If you are living in a small metropolitan area, youneed to recognize that networking will be a more important part of your search. Remember, networking involves getting others to act as references, suggest referrals, contact employers, supply information, and make introductions.
People often think that their contacts will make job search easy. However, this is rarely true. As a rule, it is best that you let your job search get under way with other approaches. If you are like many people, you may refine your goals and adjust your materials.
Pyramiding refers to capitalizing on the name of one individual to gain an interview with another. Here, you ask your interviewer whether or not he felt that it would be a firm you should explore. He's likely to routinely say, "Of course, you ought to contact them." Next, you would write the president of the new firm, saying something like the following: "In my recent meeting with Mr. X, he suggested that it might be of value if we were to get together."
Networking by Seeking Informational Interviews
This is a common networking strategy for people who need to remain in a local area. In essence, you wish to encourage executives to share with you some information about their industry, trends and challenges, which recruiters are most active in the industry, and so on.
These discussions must be kept brief, and you need to have your list of questions prepared. Obviously, in addition to the information, you want your associates who provide these interviews as a courtesy to take more than a passing interest in your success.
At senior levels some executives will resent having someone take up their time for information purposes. At middle levels seeking informational interviews can be more effective. Also, as a rule, people do better when they have researched a firm on the Internet and ask for feedback on specific ideas that may have a benefit to the firm.
Sample Letter to an "Old Friend" ... Sharing Your Biography
It isn't often, unfortunately, that I write letters to old friends. There's a good reason for doing so now and it involves a favor.
As you may know, I have maintained a successful consulting practice over recent years. This has been most rewarding. However, I have recently decided to sell the business and seek out a new line assignment as president of a small to medium size corporation, or as marketing executive with a larger firm.
As part of this new direction, I am interested in expanding my circle of acquaintances at the level of CEO. Considering your long history in the area, it seems that you may be able to provide me with a few select introductions in northern New Jersey.
Ideal contacts would be with chief executives in firms having significant growth potential. A company facing a turnaround situation could also be interesting.
In any event, I hope to move swiftly in securing appropriate contacts. I am enclosing a few biographies I recently developed. Perhaps you can share them with some of your associates. When you can, if you let me know who received the material, I would pick it up from there and give them a call.
Please give my best regards to Karen.Thanks in advance for your time. I'll give you a ring later in the week.
With best regards, Joseph Williams
Networking Influential Executives Within Targeted Industries
We recognize that clients at the level we work with are generally uncomfortable about approaching strangers for assistance. However, even if you are in a major metropolitan area, our approach of allowing people to share your biography—because it will help their business acquaintances—can influence them to take action.
We all have friends, business partners, golfing partners, social acquaintances, etc., who love to talk about their businesses, and who either have specific executive needs or know of others who have such needs. Discovering someone who is a real talent enables them to do a favor for their associate. All they need to do is handwrite a short note and forward your material.
What influential people might be of help? Politicians can be excellent sources for referrals. The same is true for doctors, lawyers, CPAs, stockbrokers and others who speak with many executives each day. Hospital trustees, directors of the Chamber of Commerce or other groups, members of industrial development boards, investment bankers and others can all be helpful. The executive directors of associations usually have many "lines" into their industries. They know where growth is occurring. Editors of business magazines and newsletters can also be useful contacts.
Sample Letter to an "Influential Person" ... Sharing Your Biography
Dear Mr. Kearns:
As President of Mellon Bank and a person well-known in financial circles, you have insight into firms throughout the state. That is the reason for this letter.
My most recent executive assignment has been as CFO of Carter Products, Inc., a ,000,000 producer of furniture. In that position, my achievements contributed heavily to the following results:
A major profit decline was reversed as our earnings have jumped 30 percent within two years.
A complete reorganization was put into effect and a brand new EDP system was successfully installed.
Earlier, I held increasingly responsible positions with Henredon, a major manufacturer of high-quality furniture.
Now, after careful thought, I have decided to seek out new opportunities in Pittsburgh. I know you are busy, but I thought perhaps you could share my background with one of your associates who could benefit from my experience. CEOs or board members of consumer product manufacturers would be logical possibilities.
With this in mind, I am taking the liberty of enclosing a few biographies. Thank you in advance for your help. I will call your secretary next week to see if you might wish any further information.
With best regards,
Consider the story of Mark, a VP who wanted to become a CFO. His boss kept telling him he was worth more, but the firm was losing money. We helped make Mark aware of the power of his references. When Mark heard the company was to be sold, he felt his salary was ,000 less than it should be.
Did his boss feel bad about paying him less than hewas worth? Absolutely! Could Mark ask him to act as his first reference, and would he raise him to the level he wanted, in return for his staying for the last two months? Yes, and that is what Mark asked for and got!
Now, the boss had a friend in an accounting firm. Mark asked his boss if he would approach his friend as a second reference. Together, they visited over lunch. He was happy to act as a second reference. In the same way, Mark developed a third reference, his own brother-in-law.
When he launched a campaign, he had a good interview with the president of a small paper company. A conservative man, he asked for three references. Mark immediately recontacted his references, so they were ready. After his boss had given him a glowing reference, the president mentioned that he was still uncertain.
When the second reference was called (the boss's friend), he told the president that in the right situation Mark could help save him million in taxes, as well as control costs. He had repositioned Mark as a broader- based financial executive.
Next, Mark's third reference supported the others and added a few points. The day after the last reference check, he got a call from the president, and guess what? His message was, "Mark, what will it take to get you?" He ended up as CFO at a much higher income.
Most of the time, important references will be the people you reported to in the past, the person you currently report to or their superiors, and on rare occasions, the people who once worked for you. Choose the highest level reference, as long as you get an enthusiastic endorsement, and avoid people who don't communicate well.
Our Key Rules for Executive Networking
- List the people you want to see. Then find a way to get someone to help you meet them. Make sure your written materials are just right before you begin.
- Know what you want to say, the questions to ask, and the strengths to emphasize.
- Talk with people wherever you go, at association meetings and casual get- togethers. Let people know you are thinking about something new.
- Try to leave every meeting with several new names and remember the names of the front office staff.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note after every networking interview.
- Exchange business cards with everyone you meet. Follow every lead. Keep a file. Don't make judgment calls ahead of time.
- Recognize that victory comes after you've completed a successful interview.
- Also recognize that people know when they're "being networked." That doesn't mean they won't help you. But don't try to fool them.
Which References Should You Select?
The references you select should be familiar with your achievements and have no hesitation in making strong statements.
What your references may say is very important, but the enthusiasm and conviction they project is most important. Let your references know that you have high regard for them and their opinions. This will make them want to do their very best.
Don't forget that good references will know only part of your background. Make sure that they learn the full story. Here's an example. A woman who worked for me left to complete her MBA. She was competent, had a quiet manner, but could be forceful. When she started interviewing, she brought me up-to-date. She also called to tell me that after an interview with a firm she liked, she felt they had some concerns about her quiet nature.
Armed with that information, I was ready when I was called by her potential boss. Before the question was asked, I mentioned that sometimes people could be deceived by this woman's quiet nature, but that I had seen her assert herself time and again. The person responded that I had put to rest his one concern.
References are also often your best sources of referrals. Leave them a half-dozen resumes. Reassure them that you will not abuse the use of their names. After calling them, send a brief note that shows your appreciation and summarize a few positive things they can say about you. You can even prepare a list of questions that employers might ask and suggest answers for them.
By the way, let references know as soon as you have used their name, and ask them to let you know when they have been contacted. Employers will sometimes ask them for someone else who is familiar with you.
You also need to be aware that reference checks are growing, as is the use of credit reports. When checking, people may look to discuss your management style, ethics, work habits, people skills, liabilities, etc., in addition to confirming dates and incomes.
In the case of executives who have moved into top management, references from any but the last two positions are rarely needed. Let the employer know that you need things to be confidential. Chances are you have a position to protect. If you have worked in only one job or for one firm for a long time, contact former employees or bosses who have left your company and ask them to be references. If appropriate, consider using customers, suppliers or trade group contacts.
Be Sure to Address Any Questionable References
It has long been said that bad references won't hurt as much as the good ones that turn out to be poor. If someone who will be called is apt to give you a bad reference, you need to bring it out in the interview and supply enough good ones to offset it.
If the interviewer asks to speak with a questionable reference, defuse the situation by explaining that you had differences of opinion on managerial styles. Never imply negatives about that person. Also, if you are doubtful about what a reference might say, you might have a friend do a reference check. If a reference is negative, explain that their input is keeping you from winning a position. Use a legal threat only as a last resort.
How Some of Our Clients View Executive Networking
"Networking was essential for me. Before using your approach, I never felt comfortable with the process, as I didn't like asking for help. This time I sent out the CEO biography with a cover letter to 150 people. The response was high and more than 10 percent gave me leads, one of which I accepted."
"I wanted to be in the high-end furniture business. Antiques and woodworking were my hobby, and my wife has an interior decorating business in North Carolina. Using your materials, we worked on her connections and my own. It took only six weeks for my first offer. A second came in ten days later, and I have joined Drexel in a top sales position."
"My goal was to join an airline in a finance position. Having been an Air Force pilot gave me an advantage, but the key was networking, getting out your materials, and using the phone. The position I accepted was with an airline in your backyard, Frontier. I will be moving to Colorado next month."
"You did a lot for me, but what really helped the most was learning how to use my Rolodex here in New York. Your materials were excellent and my contacts led to a job as executive director of a major nonprofit in Manhattan. I had lots of activity, but the best situations were through networking."