Sounds reasonable, right? “Tell your job search network what you want". Yet I can't tell you how many people don't really know or have a very difficult time getting it across. The result? A network that wants to help, but sadly, cannot.
Recently I attended a structured networking event sponsored by a popular recruiting firm here in Southern California. These events put you at a table with other job seekers. The goal is to build new connections by sharing backgrounds and career objectives. The first person I was connected with was not ready to network - as evidenced by the following exchange:
ME: So, tell me about your situation and how I can help.
HIM: Well, I'm looking for something new, something more interesting. You know?
ME: What industry are you targeting?
HIM: Well, I've been in finance for the last five years and before that I was an accountant. So, something like that would be good.
ME: Do you have a geographic preference?
HIM: Not really. Wherever I can find something good.
ME: Who are your target companies?
HIM: I'm looking for something stable, companies that are strong and growing.
ME: Any job titles that would help me think of you when I hear of job openings?
HIM: Well, I'm a manager now so I would do that again. But really I'm open to anything.
This networking event was a waste of time for him as I assume all of his other conversations that night went down in flames.
This is why I push so hard for people to have a strategy! Instead of adding my “new friend" to my list of people I am looking out for as jobs pass before my eyes, I completely forgot about him. Actually I will always remember him for that conversation, but I quickly forgot his story because it was not made tangible and memorable. Honestly, if I met 10 people that night, I will be happy if I can add 2-3 people to my “Lookout List".
It's hard to remember everyone. So . . . .be clear, be specific, be memorable.
Tim Tyrell-Smith is a veteran consumer packaged goods marketing executive with a passion for ideas and strategy. He writes the blog Spin Strategy™ - Tools for Intelligent Job Search, a new efficiency-based job search strategy and tool set that is based on the concept of “plate-spinning". It helps place the right efforts against the right resources to maximize the return in job search. He created Spin Strategy in 2007 after coming out of his own job search experience with a desire to share his new found methodology with anyone needing support in finding that next great role.
You can view Tim's blog at http://quixoting.typepad.com/spin_strategy