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January 1, 2009

Network Purposefully

Today’s job market is extremely complex. From the candidate’s perspective, the competition is fiercer than ever and employers are moving very slowly through the recruitment process. In these times, it is all the more critical for a prospective candidate to be known to the right hiring authorities before a new position is advertised to differentiate themselves from potential competitors and generate trust in their sincere interest, unique abilities and unquestionable integrity.

Debra Feldman, the JobWhiz, Executive Talent Agent

Today’s job market is extremely complex. From the candidate’s perspective, the competition is fiercer than ever and employers are moving very slowly through the recruitment process. In these times, it is all the more critical for a prospective candidate to be known to the right hiring authorities before a new position is advertised to differentiate themselves from potential competitors and generate trust in their sincere interest, unique abilities and unquestionable integrity. Employers are deluged with online resume submissions and a massive volume of responses to their advertisements.  Under these conditions, it is not just what you know and who you know, but who knows what you know that differentiates the lucky person who gets the job offer first. 
 
Executives need to promote their talent through strategic relationships as a way to ensure that influential decision makers and hiring authorities are aware of their potential contribution and for the potential candidate to establish and keep that center position on the radar of hiring managers. Maintaining a positive impression promotes more appropriate referrals and paves the way for future recommendations. Think along the theme, “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Don’t be silent and forgotten. Don’t get lost in the din.
 
Savvy and successful executives proactively manage their careers to ensure they find out about desirable, prospective new positions through their networking contacts before these jobs are advertised. They establish and maintain trusting relationships throughout their careers which affords them the inside track ahead of their competition.  It’s through these connections that they exchange information, ideas and leads which increase their industry knowledge, document their abilities, enrich their experiences and engender feelings of trust. In other words, being talented is not enough to attract an employer to secure a new opportunity.  Strategic contacts promote top candidates to hiring decision managers and are often the key to specific candidates becoming the first choice. Who knows you is equally important to what you know in today’s job market.
 
With over 70% of new hires stemming from personal recommendations, not the Internet, a headhunter or other means, having effective connections, being purposefully networked,  is just as critical as being smart, trustworthy, personable, qualified and available when a new opportunity comes knocking. It’s like career insurance – being matched up to great positions because you know when a decision maker is looking for talent and those “in the know” reach out to you to see if you are interested in an opportunity with them.
 
Outclass your competition! If you network purposefully, you’ll be among the first to access early leads to plum positions through your connections to company insiders delivering a distinct advantage in today’s highly selective executive job market. 
 
Network Purposefully™ -- Design and build a network tailored to your career objectives. Establish connections to hiring decision makers, thought leaders, consultants, respected academics and other authorities in your industry who are asked to recommend candidates for openings in your field. How? Request specific introductions, three-way meetings, a telephone introduction from a mutual contact to individuals who are likely to be aware of inside leads to the jobs you want. Your friends and colleagues are not mind readers; it’s okay to courteously and respectfully seek their assistance connecting, especially if you offer the same help to others, directly or indirectly through your relationships. Targeting a specific company? Best way to access potential openings is through an employee of that organization who can introduce you to the appropriate hiring decision maker and also personally recommend you which increases your credibility imparting an advantage over resumes submitted by unknown applicants.  
 
Reach out to key industry figures, authors, speakers, academics, etc. who are relied on for talent recommendations.  Most authors, speakers, leaders, etc. are not overwhelmed with praise for their achievements. The rare person who does reach out with a compliment is intriguing and valued. A great way to start a new relationship is beginning a dialogue about an online posting, letter to the editor, presentation, webinar, etc. Writers, speakers, etc. are often sought out for advice and if you know them and they know you, chances are your name will be passed along and you’ll establish additional new relationships through their introductions.
 
Nurture the relationship emphasizing two-way communication once you are connected. Networking is not a transaction-based experience but a long term investment developing meaningful and credible relationships. Maintain networking contacts regularly through written correspondence, telephone communication, sharing books, sending gifts and inperson meetings. Don’t be dropped from lack of follow up; be the one to keep up the connection. Of course, it’s awkward to reach out when you are needy. That’s why it is so important to stay in touch by exchanging ideas, information, and leads outside of job searching mode. It’s been shown that those who are best connected are least likely to be looking for work, because their relationships provide leads to new opportunities on a continuous basis.
 
Debra Feldman, an executive talent agent and the JobWhiz, connects clients directly with decision makers where they want to work, bypassing gatekeepers and automated filters. Her executive clients Network PurposefullyTM establishing inside leads to unadvertised opportunities. Contact DebraFeldman@JobWhiz.com 

 

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