So your resume’s written, your LinkedIn profile is up to date, you know the industry and geographic focus of your search, and you’ve made a list of your professional contacts. That’s great! Now start connecting. What? It’s not as easy as walking up to friends at a holiday party and whispering, “hey i’m looking for a new gig”? I totally get that so here are a few tips to making those connections.
Call your trusted resources
Because you took my advice in Part 2 and made the short list of people you trust completely, you have a short list of people to call on. Yes, I said call. Don’t text or email these people, call them. If they’re on the short list they expect to hear this in your voice. Tell them what’s going on in your world and ask them for their help. It’s important to have an idea how they can help (see below) but it’s also important to shut up and listen to what they have to say (also see below). These are the people you trust with everything so listen more and talk less.
Avoid “let’s catch up”
Sheryl Sandberg shares the story of a colleague who called and asked to meet with her to discuss potential career opportunities. Sandberg comments that she appreciated the colleague being direct and clear about why she wanted to meet. She didn’t say “let’s catch up”. After all, who has time for that outside of that trusted inner circle of friends. Be clear that you’re considering some changes and would like her/his advice on the topic.
Know what you want from the conversation before you start it
Because you’ve made the list of who’s in your network and how they’re connected, you have a vague idea how they might be able to help you. Perhaps you need an introduction to someone you know they socialize with or a recommendation for a job you’re considering in their industry, no matter what the expectation is go in to the meeting understanding your mission. Be prepared when they ask how they can help and also be prepared if they say they can’t help with that particular connection. Just because someone’s well connected to a company and knows you social doesn’t mean they’ll be willing to make the introduction. True connectors know the value of each connection and the fact that their reputations rely on the power of their connections. Be willing to respect their decision to help or to decline helping right now.
Ask for advice
When connecting with people who can help your career be sure to ask for their advice. If you’re connecting with the right people, each person can provide wisdom that will help you along the way. Ask them what they think, what their experiences have been, and how they recommend proceeding. You have the power to decide how much advice you take and what you do with it.
Once you ask for advice, connections, or industry insight stop talking and listen. This is especially hard to do when we’re nervous about the job search topic but crucial to successfully connecting. Take notes and really give yourself the opportunity to take the expert advice you’ve asked for. People love being considered an expert and will love talking to you if you’re willing to listen.
If your connection introduces you to someone, no matter how significant or insignificant you may think the person is, follow up with the person. Some of my best connections ended up being with people that I didn’t think would be of any help to me. Treat people well and be respectful to them and the people they introduce you. Through that introduction, they’re putting their reputations on the line. Don’t make them regret it.
- Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg on Why Empowering Women Boosts Families, Economy (abcnews.go.com)
- Women, social media and self-promotion (nymag.com)