Job Networking: Strategy successes and possible pitfalls
Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the top networkers who is also known as Sir LinkedAlot – Greg Taylor, a Career Coach and Managing Partner of Excelsior Search Partners.
One of the programs Greg founded and ran from 2002-2004 is a networking group called The August Group which helps people who are navigating the murky waters of unemployment. I asked him about some of the take aways from working with people who are unemployed and are looking for a job.
What is the number one hurdle or question you hear from someone who loses their job?
I suppose the most common concern people have is their acknowledged ignorance of where to begin and what is required in 2011. This is typically the plight of those 50 and over, a large sector of the displaced workforce. People over 40 experience the same confusion/apprehension.
What has been the shortest and longest time for someone to be ready to look for a job?
It varies wildly. Many take months to get ready to look. The shorter their UI benefits, the quicker they’re ready. Ninety nine (99) weeks of benefits permits many to feel they can get by “til things get better” if their spouse works. Some never really start feeling old and out of it, victims. It’s unusual but happens regularly that some are ready in hours. Typically those are people who’ve been through unemployment recently in the past 5 years.
What impact does starting a job search too early create for someone who is still angry at their previous employer?
You can’t start searching too early. The results don’t happen that quickly for most. Waiting until the anger dissipates permits the development of extraordinary procrastination skills.
Angry people don’t search quickly. It’s more important for them to vent. The more they practice, the better they get at venting.
I do think more people feel less anger with their employers today since downsizing is more common, less personal than the earlier layoffs felt to those in earlier rounds. The danger is obvious. The angry person expressing their anger with prospective employers to seek sympathy will get quiet rejection in return and no feedback.
What key factors play a part in someone moving into the “productive” stage?
People move forward and become productive when they begin to listen, learn and try new approaches to their future. The job loss is less personal in 2011 after so many have been downsized in prior years and simply the way of the world.
Attitude is king/queen. Becoming focused and targeting industries, employers and roles makes one more productive. Too many believe that being open to a wider spectrum of opportunities, a willingness to do most anything, anywhere for anyone is debilitating not enabling.
People get hired for what they have done and their ability to overcome challenges and obstacles. What matters most is the last five years achievement – anything before that is rather inconsequential and now irrelevant.
What are the top five blunders or missteps people make when participating in a job networking group?
- Focusing on job search networking groups is limiting. Many go to those groups for support and to learn to network. The best job-seeking networkers are not in job-seeking networking groups. They engage in other networking opportunities available in the community. Joining a job-seeking group is right for some, but done alone is not the solution. Engaging in multiple groups and community events is key.
- Forget your elevator speech. Be conversational, not a spewing robot. Conversations should be back and forth, with listening and learning. Be an active listener first. Share your sound bytes interspersed in your conversation.
- Don’t assume a victim’s role where the world owes you. Being a victim is a turn-off and ignores your value. Understand that people want to associate with those who can solve problems and get things done. You are looking find a place that has problems needing to be solved. Listen to discern where others have problems. Ask questions. Listen. Offer ideas and introductions where appropriate. Demonstrate your value. You did not lose your value when you lost your job and paycheck.
- Have realistic expectations. Your job search is not important to others looking for work. The average job-seeker is self-centered. Don’t expect the help of others until you’ve offered assistance to them. Assistance might come from sharing an idea, a reference, a job lead, a website or article you’ve found helpful, another group or event that might be of interest.
- When grumpy and angry, be quiet in public. Vent privately. You will have bad days. Share your angst with those you are close to who share their anger and dismay with you. Publicly you can never be seen as a person with a negative attitude.
What are the top five things someone can do to get the most out of a job networking group?
- Job Networking groups are limiting. Join groups that network well and go with something to offer others personally, not to get job leads. Job seekers are perceived as needy leeches with self-interest and nothing to offer.
- Think about the needs of others first. Listen. Discover how you can help them before requesting their help.
- Follow-up on EVERY lead received AND GIVEN. Keep all parties involved updated on the progress of connections in progress or stalled.
- Say “thank you” often.
- Stay connected when employed again. Attend events, call people who were helpful, offer assistance, share job leads, send an email and remain engaged with your network.