Friday, October 25, 2013

Follow-up Your Networking With a Thank You -- Here's How

Follow-up any networking meeting you have had with a heartfelt Thank You.  Whether you are following up a phone call, an in-person meeting, or a really informative e-mail exchange, take the time to thank your

You may be following up with a member of your own network.  Or, you may be following up a conversation you had with a person to whom you were referred, who, incidentally, now becomes a member of your network.  Either way, follow up with a meaningful thank you that moves the action forward. 

Follow up your networking meeting with a heartfelt Thank You note 
Thanking your networking contact at the end of the phone or in-person meeting is essential but not enough.  Follow-up with a Thank Your note, an e-mail or a mailed, written note, should:
  • Express your appreciation not only for their time but for the valuable information they shared.
  • Be specific.  State specific items and topics he/she discussed that you found valuable, insightful, and beneficial.
  • If your contact noted people in their network that they would put you in touch with, mention your intent to contact these people, i.e., referrals, your contact suggested.  Or, if he/she is contacting them for you by way of introduction, reiterate that both (1) to be sure you’ve got it right and (2) as a reminder.
  • Conclude by saying that you will keep them posted about your progress.
Staying visible
You goal is to stay visible with your network contact(s).  Do that by updating your contact on your search progress every 3 weeks or so.
  • Send an e-mail, a note, or make a phone call.
  • You can also be helpful in follow-ups.  Alert your contact to information you've come across - a meeting, article, research study, contact of yours . . . .  that could be helpful to them in their work. 
  • Caution: To contact your networking contact every week is too often - you're in danger of being seen as a pest.  To contact them after 5 or 6 weeks is too long; they may assume you have found a job.

By continuing to update your contact(s), you ensure that he or she knows you are still on the market and that he or she will make an effort to continue to assist you.  If too much time elapses after your last contact, he or she will assume the obvious . . . . . you must have landed a new job and no longer need their assistance.

Remember, your ultimate purpose in your job search networking is to learn what the other person knows about potential employers, helpful people, beneficial professional associations, and other good sources of information that could lead to employment for you.  Following up keeps you in the loop and leads to leads that can lead to the just the opportunity your are seeking.

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website, including:
Thank You Letters - Why Send Them and to Whom? Sept 5, 2013
Template for a Thank You Letter Following an Interview, Sept 29,2013   
Networking in Small 1-to-1 Conversations:  How do I do it?, Feb 17, 2013 _________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Thank You for the Referral

Referrals open doors . . . . . that might not open any other way.  Treat them with care. 

People who would not take your call, respond to your e-mail, or agree to meet with you, generally do, IF you are referred.  So . . .  treat referrals with care and . . . the referrer with utmost care!

Why do they take your call?
Professional courtesy!  It's as simple as that.  Think of it from your own point of view.
 Scenario 1:  A stranger contacts you and ask for assistance.
     - Do you get back to them?  Maybe.
     - Do you respond very quickly?  If you do get around to responding, it will not be before other priority items on your "To Do" list. 

Scenario 2:  The same stranger contacts you, mentions the name of a trusted colleague of yours, states that the colleague suggested they contact you, and then asks for assistance.
     - Do you get back to them?  Certainly.  You owe it to your colleague, who may have done some good things for you.  It's called professional courtesy.
     - Do you respond very quickly?  Whether you respond immediately, or in a while, chances are the stranger's request moves higher in priority on your "To Do" list.  Why?  You owe it to your colleague or friend.  Professional courtesy.

Referrals do open doors.  Due to professional courtesy, people who would not take your call, meet with you, or respond to your e-mail do so because they know the name of the person who referred you.  So treat any referrals you receive with care.

Biggest mistake made with referrals
The biggest mistake job seekers make when receiving a referral is delaying acting on them, or worse yet, not acting on them at all!   When you do nothing, it reflects poorly on both of you:  you, the recipient of the referral who didn't do anything, and on the referrer who made the referral.  Here's why.

Let's say you are meeting with a network contact.  Your contact, Sue, gives you a referral to Stan.  Here's what happens behind the scenes.
(1) Sue will give Stan a call, stating that she met with you, was impressed enough by you to refer you to him, and to expect your call.  .
(2) So Stan waits.  When he receives no contact from you, he may come to question Sue's judgement in gauging people, and he's not too impressed by you either!
(3) When Sue learns that you did nothing to follow-up the referral, chances are high that she will not refer you again.  And she winds up apologizing to Stan for wasting his time with a "non-performing referral."

When you do not act upon a referral, you do damage to yourself, your opportunity for securing additional referrals and leads, and to your network contact.  So, treat referrals with care.  Here's how . . . . .

How to act on a referral
When you are meeting with or talking to a network contact who makes a referral, suggests that it would be good for you to meet with a colleague of theirs, do the following:
1.  Thank your contact for the referral.
2.  Ascertain how the referral will be alerted that you will be contacting them:
     - Will your contact introduce you (via e-mail, a phone call, or in person)?
     - Will you make the contact yourself by mentioning your network contact's name?
3.  Define specifically when you will get in touch with the referral - a week, 2 weeks, immediately, etc.
     -  If you are not ready to act on the referral, don't accept it.  Explain your reason -  you will be away, or you are just beginning your job search and are not yet ready to meet with a referral, etc.  State when you will be ready and agree on a time to alert your network contact when he/she can refer you to their colleague(s).  This is really important for maintaining your credibility and your network's confidence.
4.  Contact the referral as you and your network contact agreed. For advice on preparing for, conducting, and following up a networking meeting, please refer to my article:  Networking in Small 1-to-1 Conversations:  How do I do it?", Feb 17, 2013.

With the referral - Following any interaction with a referral:
(1)  Send an e-mail thanking them for the time they spent with you, or are going to spend with you, and
(2) Clarify next steps.  Include your understanding of when, where, and what your next interaction will be:
     - a phone call in 3 weeks when the referral will have time to talk with you to to discuss your search,
     - an in-person meeting
With your network contact who made the referral:
(1)  Thank them for making the referral
(2)  Inform them when you have acted upon the referral
(3)  Update them on the outcome of your interaction with their referral
(4)  Keep them posted on the progress of your search, generally with an update every 3 or 4 weeks.

Keep track
Job seekers find it helpful when managing their activity with network contacts to keep track in a formalized way.  Otherwise, as activity increases, things can fall through the cracks!

Track activity, promises to follow-up, and times to stay in touch with a table, spreadsheet, calendar, or a more sophisticated contact management system.  It doesn't matter whether it is a computerized or paper and pencil system.  What is important is that you consistently use and check your system of tracking your job search activity to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks!  That missed meeting, or forgotten follow-up phone call, could have provided just the lead you need to your next opportunity.

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website, including:
Thank You Letters - Why Send Them and to Whom? Sept 5, 2013
Template for a Thank You Letter Following an Interview, Sept 29,2013   
Networking in Small 1-to-1 Conversations:  How do I do it?, Feb 17, 2013 _________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Internal Networking - Job Security Insurance

"How do I avoid another lay-off in my career?"

You've got the job!  How do you protect it?  With internal networking!

Job seekers who have been through a lay off, worked hard at their job search, and found their next job often ask this question: 

Question:  How do I prevent this from ever happening to me again?

The short answer:  You can't.

The long answer:  Short of setting up your own company and hiring yourself, there is nothing that you can do to prevent yourself from being laid off or fired.  You just don't control that decision.  People higher up the food chain do.

However, that doesn't mean that there is nothing you can do to up your odds of being kept employed if lay-offs occur.  The way to protect yourself from being laid off is through what I call Internal Networking.

Internal Networking- Ups Your Odds
Internal Networking simply means taking the same networking skills that you used to find your new position and applying them inside the company that hired you.  Use those now well-honed skills to build an internal network of contacts not only within your immediate work area, or department, but across multiple departments, divisions, and headquarters. 

Your goal with internal networking is to be known by lots of people. 
If, and more likely when, layoffs occur down the road, your goal is for the powers-that-be (generally head of HR, department heads, General Manager, and CEO) that review the finalized list of employees to be laid off to say, should your name be on the list:  "Oh no -  not Stan. " or "Not Sue."  "Find someone else- we've got to keep Stan."

Internal Networking simply means 
taking the same networking skills that you used to find your new position
 and applying them inside the company that hired you.

Strategy to avoid being on the list:  Get known
The strategy is simple:  Get known.  But executing it will take work and being really aware of opportunities that present themselves to get known.  How can you do this?

First, what do we mean by get known?" 
It does not mean:  This doesn't mean being known for anything superfluous, supercilious, or unflattering.  It doesn't mean having your name called out at the "Annual Awards" meeting - although that doesn't hurt.  And . . . . .it certainly does not mean being known for antics shown up on Face book, Twitter, You Tube, or other social media.

It does mean:  It means being known as a contributor and producer that other employees, from the lowest level to the highest level, have had positive experience with you, rolling up their sleeves and working elbow-to-elbow with you on projects important to the company.  As you get known in this way, you are building your Internal Network
Here are some examples: 
  • Join a cross functional team.  -  The General Manager puts out a call for a volunteer from each department to serve on a cross functional team to evaluate and make recommendations to change the organizational culture of the division.
  • Offer input to R&D - The Director of R&D wants to evaluate how R&D selects initiatives and streamline the process from conception to delivery.  She requests input from affected departments.
  • Go and work on an assignment in headquarters - The CEO decides sales opportunities are missed by field engineers who work shoulder to shoulder with the customer.  He requests participants to work with him and the head of sales and marketing, on a 4-week project in headquarters, to design a sales training program to assist the field engineers to recognize sales opportunities and to inform, or subtly "sell," the customer on additional service or work the firm can provide.
  • Participate in the company charity - If the firm sponsors a charity or charity function, take an active role in contributing your time, effort, and energy to the success of the drive.  
  • Write an article - Write a column or article, with by-line, for your company newsletter. Better yet, serve on the newsletter team and be a regular contributor.
In summary - These examples, taken from real life projects, illustrate what is meant by "get known."  It is not enough for everyone to simply know your name.  Your goal is for them to know your name as a person who is valuable to the company.  They believe the firm is better off with you than without you. 

And, if your name should show up on the "lay off" list, one of these members of your Internal Network, among the powers that be, will say:  "Oh not, not Alice.  Find someone else- we've got to keep Alice!"

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tips for Returning to Work after a Long Time Out

No one said that finding a job is easy, especially today.  
But it is not the impossible dream either!  
If you have been searching for months with little success, read on to get some tips and strategies to re-new and re-invigorate your job search campaign and realize your dream!  

If you have been out of work for a while, whether by choice or not, getting back into the "Monday - Friday, 9-5, work-a-day world" is hard.  If you have been conscientiously searching for a new position  --  sending out resumes, filling out applications, doing some networking  --  with little or no success, it is easy to become discouraged, deflated, and defeated.  

However, I have worked with a number of clients who, like you, experienced long term unemployment and yet did find jobs . . . good jobs.  I met them, and then worked as their coach, after they had been out of work for 6, 9, 12 months or even longer.  Did they do things differently?  Absolutely.  Here’s what they did, and what you might choose to do, to get back into the "Monday - Friday, 9-5, work-a-day world." 

Tip 1: Change your habits. Chances are, as the months have gone by, you have developed some non-productive habits and behaviors - job search and otherwise -  and these are not leading you to discover leads to employment. Here’s why:

A pro-active search should generate networking meetings, leads, invitations to meetings and events, interviews, and ultimately offers.  That what we mean by success.  If your search is not generating the aforementioned results - something’s wrong.  And it is probably that you are spending your time on activities that generate the least productivity when it comes to finding a job.  Non-productive habits include:
(1)  Spending most of your job search time on-line filling out applications
(2)  Spending too few hours a day working on your search.  Finding a job is a job and you should spend at least as much time working at finding a job as you would on your job.
(3)  Contacting the same --  few  -- contacts and companies over and over and over again.
(4)  Setting limits on locations where you'll work.  
(5)  Not following up.
(6)  Not expanding your network.

As time goes by, these non-productive activities become habits.  It generally requires some outside assistance to identify these habits and behaviors since it is hard to see ourselves, especially when we’re not sure what we are looking for.  

Tip 2: Get a coach. It is the biggest key to re-generating your search into a positive and productive one.
(1)  A coach will quickly key into non-productive habits, ineffective marketing, negativity, destructive body language and other things a job seeker may be doing to sabotage their success.  If a private coach is off your budget, then seek assistance from:
(2)  your local state employment services who can give you some coaching, 
(3)  job seekers self-help groups who meet regularly to share experiences, lessons learned, and productive techniques and tips, 
(4) professional colleagues who have a sense of the employment market, and 
(5) self-help websites.

Tip 3: Show current experiences on the front page of your resume.  Build your resume while you search.  Engage in productive, profession-related resume-making activities during your search.  These activities can go on your resume, illustrating that. . . . .
(1) you are keeping current in your field,
(2) keeping skills honed, 
(3) gaining new useful knowledge, 
(4) developing new skills and knowledge, that will benefit your employer.  

Examples:  In addition to the obvious -- taking courses and classes  --   you can build your resume while you search:  Write a white paper, perform consulting services, do short-term contracting, volunteer using your skill set (an accountant becoming treasurer of an association, an HR rep staffing the volunteer talent bank, a landscaper landscaping the garden of a non-profit organization, etc.)  These go on the resume!

Tip 4:  START networking NOW!  Networking leads to leads that lead to interviews that lead to offers for jobs.  Networking uncovers jobs that exist but that are not initially openly advertised.  Networking, meaning engaging with people daily, is one of the most important things you can do to find a job. 

But, job seekers fight networking.  It’s a scary thing.  However, it helps to know that networking is only a skill – and skills can be learned.  Pick up a book, read through some on-line websites, take a class to learn what the skills are  --  and practice them. 

The biggest way to reduce fear of going to a networking event is to do some homework.  Preparation goes a long way in reducing your angst about networking:
(1) Know what you want to say about you.  Prepare, practice, and learn your “L”vator speech. 
(2) Know what you want to ask about them.  Learn about who will be there, and note an item you want to say or ask about when you meet these people at the event. 

To sum it up:  No one said that finding a job is easy, especially in today's tough employment market.  And, if you have been at it for a while, it may feel like the impossible dream.  But I am here to tell you it's not impossible at all.  I have worked with 100s of clients over the last few years who not only found jobs but good jobs.  But it did not happen by happenstance.  They planned, persisted, acquired knowledge, and developed skill in searching for their next job and found it.  And you can too!

For additional advice on smart and strategic job searching, please refer to my many articles in the AJC--Career Strategy website.  For individual coaching, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation. 
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Are They Glad They Negotiated?

Question:  Are they glad they negotiated? 

Answer:   Most say "Yes."

Over the many years, and thousands of clients I have worked with during their job searches, I have asked this question at the conclusion of their successful search:

Are you glad you negotiated? 

The overwhelming response is "YES!"

Most say Yes!  Most clients say, that even if they experienced nervousness and anxiety beforehand, they are glad that they bit the bullet and negotiated their offer.  

Benefit 1:  They found that they emerged from that final part of the interview process with more in the way of $ $ $  and/or benefits than they would have had they not negotiated.  In some cases lots more; in others a little more. 

Benefit 2:  They came away from the negotiation with a mutual better understanding of each other and a higher respect level for each other.  Not a bad way to start off a new association!

Their bottom line is that they came away with more by trying their hand at negotiating their offer.

I also asked this question looking to the future:

Would you negotiate in the future - your next job offer?

Absolutely . . . . "YES!"

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
For individual coaching for your job offer negotiation, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation.  
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Negotiation Begins the Moment You Say Hello

You've got less than 30 second to make the RIGHT 1st impression!

The initial information you choose to reveal about your experience and your accomplishments begins the negotiation and influences your offer.  Since this is the information initially offered in your resume and marketing materials, and your initial phone screens and interview, that means . . . . . that the negotiation begins with your first contact with a firm --- as you say hello!

The early comments you make, and information you reveal, are important.  Be cautious about revealing too much too soon, because you:
  • May lower your compensation or benefits, 
  • May reduce your chance of hiring in at a higher level,
  • May eliminate yourself as a viable candidate.
Why?  Because the information you share about your experience and accomplishments places you at a compensation level in the interviewer’s mind --  right off the bat!  It also indicates to them the level of responsibility you could assume in their firm. So be cautious about revealing too much too soon. 

Negotiation begins the moment you say hello.
Your early communications (such as resumes and e-mails) and initial talks (such as your interview phone screen) set the stage for how you are perceived.  Those early perceptions set in the interviewing team's mind your levels of competence, authority, and compensation.  They influence your future offer.  In other words, you are negotiating and the negotiation began the moment you said hello. 

Manage your 1st impression
As you choose the information you initially reveal about yourself, you set the stage for the make-up of your potential offer.   Plan and practice how you will reveal and discuss your experience, accomplishments, and  expertise to convey the right first impression of you.  While future discussions may correct some incorrect early perceptions, it is far easier to get it right . . . . . right off the bat.

Impressions are formed in under 30 seconds of meeting
Psychologists say that people you meet form an initial impression of you in the first 30 seconds or less of meeting.  They form impressions of and make judgements about your level of education, level of experience, status in society, trustworthiness, power, friendliness, competence, fit with their circle of friends or associates.

Now translate this fact into meetings with prospective employers.  Recruiters, hiring managers, and networking contacts are making decisions about you right off the bat.  With a cursory look through your resume and cover letter, and after a short initial phone screen conversation, they decide the following:
- Are you knowledgeable?
- Are you competent and capable?
- Will you fit their organization or one which your network contact is considering referring you to?
- Would you be easy to work with?
- Do they want to work with you?
- Are you well enough educated to interact in their organization with employees and clients?
Their impressions may be correct - or not.  But it is still their first impression of you, and impressions once established are hard and take work to change.  Your job as a job seeker is to manage that first impression.  Here's how:

(1)  Be careful about the information you choose to initially reveal because that information about your background, affiliations, interests, attitudes, outlooks, goals and aspirations, not to mention experience,  and accomplishments, begins the negotiation.  It places you at a compensation level and authority level in the interviewer’s mind.  It also indicates to them the level of responsibility you could assume in their firm. 

(2)  Do some homework about the climate and culture of the organization, and conduct yourself accordingly.  Rely not only on internet sources, but talk to people who know about the firm or work there.  A formal company culture might require a more formal dress, demeanor, and way of presenting information about yourself.  An informal company culture would allow you to conduct yourself in a bit more relaxed manner.

(3)  Be cautious about revealing too much too soon.  It may lower your compensation or benefits, reduce your chance of hiring in at a higher level, or eliminate you entirely as a viable candidate.  A technique to use is to answer a question briefly - a few sentences will do-, gauge the interviewers re-action (Is it positive or negative?), and then either continue to reveal additional information (if positive) on the topic, or ask the interviewer what he or she would like you to amplify.

(4)  Be careful about the information you share on social media.  It affects and projects your professional image!  If information shared does not fit, or conflicts, with the image, product message, or mission of a company with which you are interviewing, you may be deemed a poor fit, not contacted for an interview, and eliminated before you ever said hello!

Do an informal inventory
In summary, do an informal inventory.  Assess yourself and decide how you wish to be perceived in the
employment marketplace.  Conduct an informal survey with members of your network and ask how you come across.  Use this information to present and manage your professional image.  You next job may depend on it!

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
For individual coaching for your job offer negotiation, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation.  
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub