Networking Your Way into Your Next Job

If you are currently looking for a job, or anticipate looking for a job anytime in the near future, pay close attention. Regardless of what type of job you might be looking for, one thing is certain: The better you are at networking the more easily you will land your next position! 


In doing the research for my upcoming book “Do you have what it takes to be a 6 Figure Success?,” I found that all of the 6 figure earners I interviewed agreed that a strong network was critical to their success, both in the short term and in the long term.


So how does one become an effective networker? The good news is, it is not something you have to be born with, it is something you can learn. I remember one of the first networking events I went to when I launched my own company, I did not have a clue! I accosted every person I encountered by forcing my business card upon them and then chatting their ear off for at least 10 minutes at a time (if you were one of the people at that event at Wokano 9 months ago, I apologize!).


Networking is an art form. You have to learn what is effective and what is not. In order to be a effective in a networking situation there are a few things you must do. Below is a list of the top 5 things that can increase your effectiveness in a networking situation:


1) Have an enticing “Tell me about yourself” statement. Perfecting your elevator speech is critical not only in job hunting, but in business in general. You want to be the one that is remembered at the end of the day. One way to be memorable is to give a great elevator speech. It is important to capture your audience’s attention and avoid overwhelming them with so much information their eyes glaze over. To read more about giving a great elevator speech, please refer to an blog I wrote a few months back which can be found at:


http://blog.jhccs.com/2009/06/16/tell-me-about-yourself.aspx
2) Keep it short and sweet. Try not to talk to one person for more then 5 minutes at a time. You can always follow up with someone for a coffee after the event, but keep in mind, it is unlikely you will get the chance to network with all of those same people again.


3) Always have a firm handshake and good eye contact! Having a firm handshake and good eye contact indicates confidence. Confidence is something that people find attractive, and more important MEMORABLE. Networking is all about being memorable at the end of the day. Someone who has a weak handshake, or does not have strong eye contact is easily forgettable. If you are nervous about making eye contact, practice looking yourself in the eye in the mirror while you give your elevator speech.


4) Get to know people and ask what you can do for them. No one likes a person who is all about ME, ME, ME. Unfortunately, many people have turned networking events into nothing more then being a walking, talking billboard. People will often walk up and hand you their card before you know anything about them. This is not what networking is about. It is about creating long lasting, sustainable and trustworthy relationships.  Next time you are in a networking situation, wait for the person you are speaking with to ask for your card or ask them for their card. When someone takes the time to ask for your card, they will be much more likely to remember who you are. 


5) Follow up! If you do not follow up with the people you meet, you are simply wasting your time. I find that people who attend networking events are often confused as to what they are supposed to do after the event is over. The answer is simple: Follow up! What does following up mean? It means taking the time to send a follow up email the next day. If you can, make the email personal, and it will be more meaningful. In your follow up, you might want to offer a potential referral or resource, or mention a subject that was discussed at the networking event.


 


Finally, I highly recommend connecting with all people you meet on Linkedin. This is critical. There has never been a more easy or FREE way to keep track of business contacts. You never know where you could get a job lead from or if the person you connect with on Linkedin might be a great business contact for you in the future.


 


Remember: It is not about you, it is about them! People will go out of their way to connect with you and help you if you pay it forward by helping them!


 

People like to Hire People like Themselves

Today I was leading a workshop on interviewing in Downtown Los Angeles. We covered a variety of fun and fascinating subjects regarding being effective in an interview. One question that came up, was a question I had never encountered before, but definitely got my wheels turning:

“What do I do if my conversational cadence does not match that of the person that I am interviewing with?”

This question surprised me because I have coached thousands people over the years on many aspects of being effective in an interview, but this was one subject I had not thought to include in my workshops. After giving the question some thought, I realized that being able to match another person’s conversational cadence is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. I also realized what a critical component conversational cadence is an interview, and how it can make or break the interview.

Often, we take it for granted that we are able to have flowing conversations with the people closes to us in our lives such as our friends and family. We do not realize how difficult it is to match someone else’s pace until you are in an interview where it is blatantly clear that things are not meshing (or in some cases a date!). So why is it so easy to converse with your friends and family and yet, so nerve racking to speak to someone new in an interview (or in any situation for that matter)? The reason for this is that we naturally augment our rhythm and style to fit that of those that we are closest to. Think about your closest friend, chances are, you speak in a similar fashion when you are together. This happens over years of spending time together and adjusting to each others styles.

How can you apply the same principles of how you interact with your friends to being successful in an interview?

The answer is simple: Mimic them. By mimicking the person you are interviewing with, you will put them at ease, and you might surprise yourself by how comfortable you feel. What makes friendship so easy, is that, over the years we unintentionally wind up mimicking each others behaviors. People like people who are like themselves. The same is true of potential employers. Just like married couples who wind up looking alike or pet owners who wind up with pets that look strangely similar to their owners, people like to hire people like themselves.

I am not saying that you have to run out and dress up like the person you are interviewing with. Quite the contrary. I am simply asking you to become more aware of how you interact with other people and get more in tune with different people’s respective styles. Styles can range from voice pitch, to what is said, to how it is said. A way to practice mimicking others would be to find someone who is very “high energy,” almost to the point that you find them annoying. Then try to match their energy level and conversational pace just like you would with a friend.

The same goes for someone who is very “laid back” or low energy. Try to bring your energy down and to mirror the person’s energy that you are hanging out with. It is not quite as easy as it sounds, but it is better to practice with people you know then take your chances in an interview with a complete stranger.

Once you have become more adept at mimicking those around you, go out and try it in the real world. Try it out on dates, and in normal every day situations. The more effective you become at mimicking other people’s behavioral styles, the more successful you will find yourself in interviews. The key is to gauge another person’s style and meet them at their level. If the person you are interviewing with loves to use big words such as loquacious, then throw in a big word of your own such as verbose. The more present you become to how people interact the more success you will have in your own interactions, and most importantly, in your interviews!

Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts

DO:


Stand up for a phone interview


Smile during your phone interview


Have your resume nearby for reference


Have a list of your accomplishments handy


Speak on a land-line


Research a company just the way you would for a normal interview


Have a pen and paper and a glass of water handy


Speak slowly and clearly, and give short concise answers!


 


DON’T:


Interrupt the interviewer!


Have any noise in the background (pets and children included)


Have too much clutter distracting you during the phone screen


Read from your resume or read from pre-written answers


Pretend you know something you don’t and/or Google search the answer while on the call


Chew or eat anything while on the call!


Bring up salary or benefits!


Forget to send a “Thank You” letter and/or email because it is a phone screen

Should you lower your salary requirements?

In these tough economic times, I am finding that a lot of clients are getting low-balled when offer time comes around. The question then becomes: Should I lower my salary requirements and accept an offer for less than I am worth?

The answer is, be flexible and carefully evaluate all your options. The most important thing is to be the one to get the job offer! Whether the offer comes in 5k, 10k, or 20k less than what you want is irrelevant. If you at least get an offer, you are ahead of the game. You do not have much power to negotiate upfront, but once they have set their sights on you, and have chosen to give YOU the offer, you are in a much better position to negotiate.

You have to ask yourself, what is my bottom line? Perhaps you were making 100k before, and now you get an offer for 90k. Is 90k something you can live off of, and more importantly, are you going to have the opportunity to get back to where you were within a year or two. Something most talented employees know is that, they determine their own worth. Sure, you might get low-balled initially, but if you know that you can prove your worth, you will be rewarded in the long run.

One of the women I interviewed for my book explained that she once took a position paying 30k a year, but knew that there was enormous upside potential. She saw the value in the company and what she could contribute, and within 8 months was making close to 700k. Now, this may not be the norm, but it goes to show that you can do a lot with the cards you are dealt.

Remember, the next time you get an offer that is less than what you want, ask yourself what is the upside potential? If the money is below what is absolutely necessary, then perhaps you need to renegotiate or turn it down. If instead, you realize that there is a large upside and you can negotiate a review in 60-90 days or possibly even 6 months, then it might be wise to seriously consider it.

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in an Interview

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in an Interview


10) Leaving your cell phone on
9) Chewing gum or sucking on a candy during the interview (its distracting!)
8) Accepting a drink (this is dangerous and can easily spill on you or worse the person you are interviewing with)
7) Taking extensive notes, and not paying enough attention to what is being said
6) Getting too comfortable with the person you are interviewing with *Some people become to casual and can often reveal inappropriate information
5) Focusing on the negative ie. Sharing all the reasons your prior positions did not work or what you did not like about past employers
4) Bringing too much stuff into the interview with you. Being prepared is good, but it is unnecessary to bring more then one bag or notebook
3) TALKING TOO MUCH!
2) The dead fish handshake. No one wants to hire someone who is not confident enough to have a strong handshake (the bone-cruncher handshake is just as bad)
1) Showing up late. Enough said