One of my new year’s “ressaylutions” was to investigate and choose a CRM (customer relationship management) system. This week I chose Infusionsoft; but this blog is not about CRM systems or new year’s resolutions. It’s about networking.
The sales rep at Infusionsoft connected me with Wes Schaefer, a.k.a. The Sales Whisperer. The first thing Wes did after learning about my business was ask me if I would do a podcast for him on the topic of writing LinkedIn profiles. I was very happy to oblige. I felt grateful for his support and didn’t think twice before giving him a free LinkedIn profile review.
Guess what? I now have a podcast that went out to Wes’ list and aired on April 22. It turns out I’m not even going to work with him for the project I initially contacted him about! But possibilities opened up for doing some business together and for me to present webinars to his 5,500-member list.
It’s amazing what can come out of simply talking—and listening—to people, and then doing whatever you can that might be helpful for them. Here’s the thing: People want to connect with people, and they want to help! It’s human nature.
If you’re a job seeker, it’s important to remember these facts about people. You might be afraid to approach someone who could help you because you don’t want to bother them, you feel needy, or some other related reason. Remember: People want to connect with people, and they want to help.
That said, people also don’t want to feel used or bothered. So how do you approach the connections you have in a way that pushes their “I want to help” button? One way is to be indirect. It helped, for instance, that I did not call Wes looking for an opportunity to present a webinar. HE saw the opportunity. And he did not ask me for a free LinkedIn profile review; I saw that opening to help him.
In job searching, the “indirect” approach works as well. You are not likely to get a warm welcome with the question, “Can you give me a job?” Rather, take a research-oriented approach—much like I was researching CRM implementation providers when I called Wes.
I know I love connecting people with others who can help them, and I also love sharing my specialized knowledge with people who really need it. It makes me feel special! The following ideas are based on the premise that most people feel the same way I do. Here are…
4 Ways to Use Your Networks to Get a Job … Without Turning Anyone Off
- Ask for a meeting and say something like this: “I’m considering a career change and I have done quite a bit of initial research, including x, y and z. My colleague John suggested that you might be a great resource to find out more about this industry. Would you be available to meet for lunch?”
- Write a letter advising your networking contact that you are doing research about an industry or list of companies (note someone does not have to work at a particular company to be in the know). You can provide the list of companies and ask if they know contact information for key players, current trends, organizational culture, major projects pending, organizational/staffing changes and opportunities, and/or problems the company is facing.
- Ask your close connections to do some research for you! If your husband is a golfer, he can mention your job search on the course and find out who might be a valuable resource for you. Or if your cousin is in construction and you are exploring the possibility of working in that field, ask your cousin to talk to her contacts who might be willing to meet with you and tell you what it’s like to work at her company.
- Join an association, or even a networking group in an area where perhaps you haven’t interacted before. Introduce yourself and what you’re up to. These groups are eager to provide resources and to connect you with people who can help.
Many times, these types of researching questions will lead to information about an open position. The trick is to honestly approach people with the expectation that they will give you information—not a job!
Of course, it’s a good idea to learn more about the person you’re contacting as well. It’s likely you’ll be inspired to do something for them, just as they were inspired to support you.
If you have used any of these techniques in the past, please share your experience. And if you try one of them after reading this blog, please report back on your results!