New Year Networking

01.11.12 | Posted in Job Search, UnCommon Leadership

I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with a successful serial entrepreneur, Stephen Meade, for nearly ten years now. Stephen is a gifted communicator and a regular on the speaking circuit, teaching other entrepreneurs how to create networks that powerfully support their growth and business success.

One of the talks Stephen gives to groups is on networking. He and I were recently talking about the power of facilitated introductions and the importance of continually investing time in building your network both to expose yourself to new ideas and potential opportunities. Although Stephen targets his tips toward entrepreneurs who are looking for partnerships, venture capital, etc., his networking concepts are genius (common sense that is not so common) and will work for anyone.

With that in mind, I’m gearing this post to those of you who are looking for jobs. As I write this, 13.3 million of you are unemployed and would like to find a jobSome of you are discouraged and beginning to feel like things will never turn around. Reality is there are less jobs than people available to fill them, so you have to step up your networking game.

  • Get clear. You have to know what you want to achieve before you can communicate this effectively to others. Take the time to truly decide what you want. Do you want a job? What kind of job? Who (within a company) would be your perfect contact? In what industry do you want to work? If this is different from your industry experience, how do your skills translate to the new industry? Do the research on companies for whom you would like to work. Make a list of two or three and the key contacts. For example, if you want a job in finance, get the name of the CFO, Finance Division President, or whoever is the decision maker for the particular position you have in mind. As Steven Covey would say, “Begin with the end in mind.”
  • Utilize Stephen’s Tornado Technique. This is a questioning technique to use in networking situations that helps you to gather intelligence. You start with broad questions and get more specific as you continue the conversation. The key is to keep asking questions and really listen to what your contact is saying. Important questions to have in your repertoire include:
    • What do you do?
    • What type of industry are you in?
    • What are some of the companies you do business with?
    • Who do you usually sell to or work with there?
    • What can I do to help? What are your biggest challenges right now? Who are you trying to get to?
  • Build referral currency. You have been engaged in conversation and listening for referral opportunities for the other person. You have enough information now that you can say, “Remind me to introduce you to A from B company and C from D company.” As Stephen so eloquently reminds me, this creates an implied referral system and a psychological burden upon the other person before you ever begin talking. The person feels obligated to help you because you are generously helping them. It’s at this point you ask for names of the specific individuals who can help you reach your goal. You will end up with three to four names from each person you talk to if you effectively use this referral currency strategy.
  • Follow up. Make sure to follow up with each of the names you collect.  A follow-up call should use this script:
    • Hello, my name is ______________.  I was given your name and number by _____________.  Did I catch you at a good time?
    • Yes—Great.   Here is specifically why I am calling…..
    • No—Is there a better time to follow-up with you?

This follow-up script helps to create affinity between you and the person you are calling because you have a common bond with the individual who gave you the name and number.

Networking is simple but certainly not easy. It requires effort and action in order to be successful. I’ve provided you with a small snapshot of Stephen’s advice about how to network effectively. Ultimately, networking for the job search depends upon you and your persistence. Do the research — go where you are most likely to meet those who can help you get what you need. And good luck!

Onward & Upward!

Lisa Dominisse – guest blogger

Special thanks to Stephen Meade for permission to use his concepts as part of this blog. If you’d like to learn more, you can watch the two-part talk he gives in San Diego to a group of entrepreneurs at: San Diego Founders Isolation Speech Part I and Part II.

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