Friends are always passing my name along to people who are doing a job search or building a practice. They usually tell the person about my coaching practice and recommend that the person call me. (I love referrals!!)
Last week people in my network referred three different people who were at three different stages in their careers. What struck me was how similar my response to each of them was.
One young woman, Karen, who recently graduated from college, is now embarking on her first job search. The second person was Jen an attorney with a significant law practice who asked for help in building a new specialty into her practice. The third was Bob who had recently closed his business after 20 years. Bob is also now in the middle of a job search. (Names make it easy to write about but are not the actual names of my clients. )
Karen had no experience doing a job search before. She had a resume and had been answering online job ads but said she felt that was going no where. She wasn’t even sure what she wanted to do! When I suggested she do some informational interviewing, she told me she would like to do that but, “How can I find people to talk to when I’ve just graduated college and haven’t lived in this community very long?”
Jen has built a substantial and growing real estate law practice in her 10 years in business. She did this by forming close relationships with the banks and realtors in her area. Now she would like to begin to add cases in small business law to her practice but isn’t quite sure how to get started finding clients.
Bob is in the middle of his job search. He has focused in on three or four jobs that he has applied and interviewed for. As he waits for responses he wonders what he could do to differentiate himself from the others applying for the same job.
Whatever you do today you need relationships with others to help you find work or customers now and in the future. Who is currently in your network? How recently have you contacted them?
For those who are just starting out like Karen, you can begin with your college. Professors, alumnae, and friends are the beginning of your network. Building a spreadsheet with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of acquaintances, friends and colleagues will also be very helpful now and in the future when you want to look for another job or to start a business. People who live outside your location may still know people in your area. Karen could also tap into her parents network.
If you have built a small network as Jen has then think back to what worked for you in the past and do it again. Jen plans to grow the small business part of her practice by approaching the banks and some of the clients that she has had a relationship with. In addition she needs more direct contact with small business owners so she agreed to join some business organizations like the Chambers of Commerce. Since she uses Outlook in her practice I suggested she add her new contacts to the address book in that.
As a former business owner Bob has lots of contacts. In his previous life Bob used ACT! so he was able to go back to that database for some ideas. He was amazed to see that at least a dozen people he knew worked in the companies that he had interviewed with. He could see that contacting those people could certainly positively impact his application especially if the contacts were willing to put in a good word with the hiring manager for him.
Building and maintaining good relationships with people is a skill we all need. Those relationships can be used in many ways. Some of the people in your network may become close friends, others will be colleagues and peers, and still others will be people who are a few steps ahead of you in their careers. Your relationships are important both in your personal life and your work life. Taking good care of them is an important life skill.
1. Take stock of your network and how you keep track of the people in it. Do you know how to contact them and what they do for a living? Create your own database if you don’t have one.
2. Check that database for people you are out of touch with. Commit to reconnecting to one or two people in your network each week. The holidays are a great time to start this.
3. Join an online networking group such as www.linkedin.com. Here is a way to use your network to reach people in their networks. While you are there link to me too!
4. Does the idea of going to networking events or calling people to set up informational interviews scare you? A coach can help you overcome fear, eliminate blocks and address beliefs that are holding you back.
About Alvah Parker
Alvah Parker is a Business and Career Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. To subscribe send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Parker’s Value Program© enables clients to find a way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. She is both a Practice Advisor and Coach to attorneys, managers, business owners, sole practioners, and people in transition. Alvah is found on the web at http://www.asparker.com She may also be reached at 781-598-0388