August 4, 2011
How to make the right contacts
In my last post, I discussed the importance of leveraging your connections to help you meet people at the companies you're targeting in your job search. For some job seekers, this raises the question: "What if I don't have the right contacts?"
For starters, see "Who are the top three 'super connectors' in your industry?" Getting to know these so-called super connectors, and other highly influential people, can significantly reduce the time it takes to meet the right folks at your target companies.
A word of warning: Even though your goal is to ask for help finding a job, don't go into meetings as a job seeker. This will significantly reduce your likelihood of potential contacts wanting to meet with you or share contact information. (See "Just because we know each other doesn't mean you're entitled to my contacts" to read why people in Seattle rarely make introductions to job seekers.)
In my workshops, I teach five tips that have been fruitful in getting key people to respond positively. Here are the first two:
Build rapport. People hire, buy from and refer people whom they like and trust. For people to like you, they have to think you are just like them and are interested in similar things. Focus on their interests, needs and agenda -- not on your own.
Building a genuine relationship takes time and nurturing; if you go for the sale too soon, you'll be shot down. Keep in mind the philosophy "nobody cares about you, but everyone cares about themselves." It's a little harsh, but pretty close to reality.
Ask questions. Keep the focus on your contacts, and then go deeper by asking what they need or what they're working on that you might be able to help with. Get personal if it makes sense. I once hit it off with a recruiter by talking about diapers for 45 minutes; both she and I had newborns, and that was a topic she was interested in.
Making the conversation about the person you're talking to, and not yourself, can be difficult if you are new at networking or haven't had to talk to strangers. With a little practice, however, it does get easier.
In my next column, I'll give you three more tips on developing relationships with people you don't know.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
- career profile (156)
- cool jobs (55)
- education and training (59)
- entry level (66)
- etiquette (97)
- events (70)
- featured (346)
- finding your passion (89)
- health care (71)
- interviewing (82)
- job fairs (54)
- management (78)
- market trends (89)
- networking (264)
- resumes (97)
- salary (81)
- social media (83)
- technology (106)
- unemployment (55)
- work/life balance (87)