Professional Networking, Business Lunches & Social Media Networking Enables You to Create Your Own Career Opportunities, Advance Your Career & Build a Great Reputation. Smart Job Searchers, Entrepreneurs, Professionals, and Executives Like Donald Trump, Tim Cook & Elon Musk Have Leveraged Professional Networking for Decades! Why Not You?
By Darrell DiZoglio, Certified Professional Résumé Writer/Executive Résumé Writer & Career Coach athttp://RighteousResumes.com ~ Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved.
One of the most important concepts that led to my growth as a Sales and Marketing Manager/Business Owner/Entrepreneur during my career was understanding this key concept: People seldom buy from strangers and prefer to buy from people they like. This is especially true for hiring, where they buy your service with a paycheck every two weeks. Many famous politicians are well known for their servant leadership, dedicated community service and noteworthy results while serving their communities. Gradually, they ascend to higher and higher positions on a foundation of their ability serve their constituents, improve the community, and build their base of supporters, volunteers for election campaigns and donors. But let's rewind for a minute, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump all served/helped others first. That's what made them likeable/admired, respected or well thought of.
I have had the distinct privilege of meeting, interviewing (learning from), and serving all sorts of Directors, VP/SVP, and C-level executives during my career, and trust me their people skills, relationship building, professional networks, negotiating, and social skills are generally stellar. I am happy to report each of these executives treated me with kindness and respect. Naturally, these terrific soft skills are exactly what employers value because it means you will fit in well with their existing team. Further, networking your way into a new career with them demonstrates you have these abilities (which is so impressive to employers).
Impressive community service and volunteer work is foundational to distinguish you from peers as a candidate. It shows you have a big heart, are a giver vs. a taker, and have your priorities right. Ross Perot and Donald Trump were both billionaires living the luxurious billionaire's lifestyle, yet both were willing to give it all up to serve Americans nationwide as the President of the United States. That kind of sacrifice, grit, and commitment to serving others was the foundation of good will that allowed Donald Trump to become elected as President vs. impossible odds. He won despite having no prior political experience and running against candidates who had decades of high-level experience in politics. Regardless of whether you do your networking in person, leverage BNI (the world's largest networking referral organization, there is a BNI chapter near you), want to leverage your tight military connections, leverage long-standing relationships within your church congregation or country club, or use social media/the WWW exclusively to introduce and establish yourself with your target market. You will find that the give first or serve first approach is by far the best.
Employers/businesses also are insulating themselves with more effective gatekeeping techniques to keep assertive job seekers and sales people at bay. Previously, walking in to an employer unannounced and requesting an interview was either welcome or at least tolerated. Now, except for RNs, MDs and Truck Drivers, that is mostly ancient history due to the smaller amount of employment opportunities during a recession and a serious oversupply of talent thanks to the mass nationwide layoffs of 2022-2023. At the present time, qualified applicants outnumber actual job vacancies by a 17:1 margin. The highest in decades, ironically the Department of Labor’s latest estimate of the national unemployment rate is so terribly skewed for political gain it's not even worth mentioning anymore because they have excluded millions of people from the workforce simply because they are not eligible to receive unemployment compensation (part-timers, commission based/1099 contractors, self-employed etc.) or have been deemed long-term unemployed (thus excluded).
Why is networking your way into a top-tier employer so much of a short cut today? Well, first more than 50% of all job postings are fake. These fake job postings are published to constantly renew the databases of recruiting/staffing firms and to remain in compliance with equal opportunity employment when employers already have a favorite internal candidate. Second, when you are known to the organization as a candidate, have a terrific résumé, and a trusted insider has stuck his/her neck out for you and recommended you for employment, then you have eliminated much/most of the competition for the career opportunity you are targeting.
If you want to network your way into an interview with a hiring manager in a top tier organization, you have to do it with Gold calls (referred by …) rather than cold calls, classy letters of introduction, community service work where their key employees/ leaders volunteer, and business lunch meetings with trusted insiders who already work there. In other words, you need to earn face time (even if it's on Zoom video conferences during lunch breaks) with key employees/hiring managers because great career opportunities with the Most Admired Employers are harder to come by. If not, the friend of a trusted employee, an old military pal of a Manager, or the new brother-in-law of the CFO will be hired for the role you want rather than you.
Networking simply means taking a strategic approach to obtaining a new career with a most admired employer, which simply means treating an insider to one or two rounds of golf and a business lunch to become friends and receive an insider’s referral in return out of gratitude. That small $90 investment vs. years of a great salary, benefits and retirement package, I think that is worth it. What if it took you two business lunches and a pair of tickets to a local baseball game or musical? At $25 + $25 + $125 that’s less than two hundred dollars to have your résumé and a letter of introduction left on the hiring managers desk with a post it note that says, “Bob, I know this guy from college/golf outings/the country club/church. I am sure he would fit in well and do well here. Jeff Smith.” If you really apply yourself, there are a million different ways you can use letters of introduction addressed to specific key employees/hiring managers/executives you already have something in common with.
Obviously, LinkedIn’s paid membership for job hunters (still affordable while in a job search) and the people search tool there will allow you to focus in on hiring managers within a certain industry that are local. This is feature is very helpful and highly effective saving you weeks or months of time networking and researching. I like to think of this as networking with a purpose. Let’s say, you want to send 10 letters of introduction to sell yourself directly to hiring managers and create your own career opportunity. First, you want to pick the job title most likely to be helpful to you earning the insider referral. Believe me, this is not always the hiring manager, because the higher up the ladder you go the busier they are.
Example, your goal is a Store Manager position for a retail AGS jeweler that is famous for heirloom quality workmanship, the finest color gems, and ideal cut diamonds. An ideal choice for a trusted referral would be the jeweler that does all their repairs, an industry wholesaler, or a key employee. Therefore, you can now search for the following: Jeweler + Tiffany’s + Salt Lake City, Utah with the LinkedIn people search. Now, you can comb through the results to find the best contacts you have the most in common with so you will be fast friends. This is key because friends help each other. If you cannot find a jeweler that fits the bill there are always Gemologists, Sales Consultants, Office Managers, Accountants, Assistant Managers and Administrative Assistants. That said, Assistant Managers would likely be your direct competition so you must cross them off from the start.
The goal here is to find someone to give you an insider’s referral with two or three existing commonalities with because they will be easier to build a relationship with. These commonalities might include religion, politics, golf, tennis, weightlifting, industry or professional groups, sports teams, military experience, graduating from the same college or university, hobbies, music, being a salt-water fishing fanatic, a previous profession in common, professional networking groups like BNI or Toastmasters, or favorite pastimes like sailing, golfing or writing poetry. If you were in the Navy, your search might use these keywords: Field Medic, Navy, Boston General Hospital, Boston, MA, X-ray technician, Christian. From a search like this, you might have 15 profile results that can be narrowed down to three terrific candidates that could be well worth a business lunch to receive an insider’s referral. Why does this work so well?
Networking yourself into a top-tier employer is simple, strategic and highly effective regardless of your professional level. It works wonders for new college grads, graduate school grads, mid-level managers and executives. You can now stop using job postings exclusively forever, because by earning an insider’s referral you will likely be selected over thousands of would be competitors who are dependent on job postings (total strangers with a high washout rate in first 90-days on the job). You will be a natural to make the short list because you took the road less traveled, proved you really want to work for them (vs. merely gain employment), and are viewed as preferred candidate/known entity. Even better, there is $16,000 to $25,000 Recruiter’s commission savings involved, which means you are far more cost effective too. Now, why would a trusted insider even want to help you? Simple, most smart employers regardless of size offer their employees a lucrative employee referral bonus to attract better candidates, lower turnover, and lower their overall cost of recruitment while they improve employee retention. On average this bonus is about two-four weeks of salary for the employee who makes the referral. Cha Ching!
Clearly, if you want to write letters of introduction directly to hiring managers you will need their name, title, and email, or be connected with them on LinkedIn to send them a LinkedIn message. Now, you can search for the specific job titles within the target company that are most likely to hire you (Sales Manager/Director if you are a Sales Consultant). However, you still want to have something in common with them so searching for commonality is still important. Here is an example of a typical search for someone that lives in between Providence and Boston and wants a job selling insurance and annuities: MetLife + Providence, RI + General Agent/GM + Bryant College + Boston, MA; + Red Sox. You would likely receive at least 20 results from this people search and two or three might be ideal targets for you.
This is what great sales people, successful entrepreneurs, and veteran recruiters do to generate new leads by leveraging modern technology, so it is already proven effective. Google/Bing searches, LinkedIn.com, Hoovers.com, Salesforce.com and Zoominfo.com have saved us all lots of time and effort by streamlining this process. To summarize cold calling (carpet-bombing) is history. Instead, we succeed with precision using this targeted and personalized approach (laser-guided bombs and heat seeking missiles). Do your research first, acquire high-priority targets and send out letters of introduction where making a new connection will do the most good. Try to have two business lunches a week with someone that can help you keep an eye on internal job postings, personally refer you, or introduce you to the hiring manager at a professional event or nonprofit gathering.
Please think strategically, never start out your job search, if you have a weak/subpar resume, cover letters and LinkedIn profile, that's self-sabotage. Verify it's excellent first with an expert. When you use strategic professional networking the last thing you want is a bad first impression. That means the insider/s who recommended you could lose respect within the organization and you have wasted months of time and effort networking.
Now that you know all this, let me enlighten you on why networking your way into an insider referral works out so well for some professionals and no so well for others. The smart professionals give generously first to help others within their professionally network, then when they need help themselves due to an unexpected layoff, their friends/connections will all support them. They can often choose the employment offer that is best for them and their family in the long-term. This is the true beauty of community service (aka networking), building/maintaining your professional network, and helping others – it all comes back to you somehow just like good karma.
Do you want to be winning right from the beginning in your job search? Then hire Darrell DiZoglio, Certified Professional Résumé Writer at http://RighteousResumes.com. You will be glad you did. For a free résumé evaluation and estimate for services required to rank in the top 5%, simply email your best current resume and #1 job title goal or favorite job posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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