Are You Afraid of Networking?

The Networking Challenge

I wrote Networking May Be Right Up There with the Fear of Speaking article in another of my blogs and thought you might find it interesting.

Networking can be a challenging and slippery slope, especially for the job seeker. As a job seeker you encounter the “no” answer when you apply for jobs which leads you to avoiding other situations where the answer may be no.

Getting “hung up” on no; is a problem that stands in the way of your success in getting a new job and moving forward. You cannot take the no answer as rejection, because it will stop you in your tracks.

What Does NO Mean?

No does not mean no, it simply means that this particular route may be blocked and that you need to take an alternative route. When you have a goal (which is imperative), you must always keep your eye on that goal. You may have to take alternative routes, but you can never allow yourself to lose sight of your goal.

One of the keys to goals is not to picture the goal, but to picture yourself from the goal. When you picture yourself from the goal you strengthen your desire and commitment.

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Job Seekers: Build Your Network to 100 People in Two Days

Most Job Seekers Are Not Networkers

I work with many job seekers and what I see repeatedly are people who think they are networkers. The reason I say they think they are networkers is because I do not see them working at building their LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or any other networks.

As a job seeker you should be growing your network daily. If you are not adding at least 3 to 5 new contacts daily; you are not doing your due diligence. Statistics say that upwards of 70% of jobs are found through networking contacts; but even with that knowledge many job seekers still struggle.

In my non-networking years, I was pathetic. I had many contacts, but I did not have them organized on my behalf. I suffered through long periods of unemployment because I was inept at networking. I believe I have finally matured and it only to 20 years. Learn from my experiences, because I want you to avoid some of the pain.

Why Do I Need to Network? I Have Enough Connections.

There will never be a time when you have enough connections and do not need more. As you progress through your career; your network needs will change. Those that were previously peers may no longer be in that category. Those that were a level or two above you may now be your peers. The industry that you were once in may no longer be your industry. Your connections or you, yourself, have moved; so your needs have changed. Regardless, as change happens, your network must change as well.

It Is Easy to Build Your Network

Building your network to 100 or more connections should happen in no more than two or three days. Simply start by inviting your family members, your friends, your church members, the parents of your children’s friends, your neighbors, former classmates, and members of any other groups or organizations to which you belong. There are hundreds of people who you can invite into your network; so do it!

Do Not Use Default Invitations

Successful invitations are personalized. DO NOT USE the default invitations provided by LinkedIn, Facebook, or any others. You need to reach out to these people to get them to respond and accept your invite. Let them know how you know them – build the bridge.

Where to Next?

Once people start accepting your invitations look through their Friends or Connections list for people you know and invite those people into your network. Again use the personalized invitations identifying how you found them and how you know them.

Tell Your Connections the Type of Connections That You Want

Let your Friends and Connections help you build your network by telling them the type of people who you are looking to add. If they know of anyone meeting your criteria or that they believe would be a great connection would they please arrange an on-line introduction for LinkedIn or a Friend suggestion for Facebook.

Do Not Be Shy

This is no time to be shy or use that as an excuse. When you are unemployed you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone and make connections. Identify the places where potential employers and hiring managers can be found and go there. Whether it is a face-to-face meeting place or an on-line site; you cannot afford to be missing in action. Whatever it takes; get yourself to that location!

Job Seekers – Who Are Your Five Closest Friends?

What Do Your Five Closest Friends Say About You?

Most people do not understand the importance of their five closest friends. What they typically miss is; this group will greatly influence your goals, your ideas, and your achievements.

The average level of achievement within this group will parallel your progress. If they drive average cars; you will drive an average car. If they have an average house; you will have an average house. It is not that average is bad; it is just that if you aspire to more – this group of friends may not be the proper launching pad.

Look at the successful people that are around you; who do they keep company with? Are they running in the same crowd as you; if so then you are probably doing well because you will be close to the average of a higher income group. If you are not in that group then you are probably somewhere below their economic position.

The questions are:

  1. Where do you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. When will you get there?

Social Networking and Your Five Closest Friends – Are Your Friends Right for You?

Let’s move this examination to your job search. The truth is that 80% to 85% of jobs are found through networking. This begs the question then as to how successful you are as a networker? If your group of close friends are not effective networkers, chances are that you are not an effective networker.

If your friends are on LinkedIn or other Social Networks and they have the average number of connections, then you probably have the average number of connections as well. If they are not on LinkedIn; then you are most likely not on LinkedIn.

People that are progressing in their careers have more connections than those that are not moving. People that are progressing in their careers are adding higher caliber connections; which brings higher caliber second level connections.

This concept may be familiar to you or maybe not, but there have been studies performed on friendships and this is exactly what the researchers found. We are heavily influenced by those around us and often times to move forward we need to break out of these relationships.

Are your closest friends supportive of your efforts, ideas, and goals?

The next question is whether those around you are supportive of your aspirations. If they do not share your vision and are not excited for you; then it may be time to change friends.

For you to be successful you need people around you that share your dreams and some that have obtained the level of success you are seeking. Without that support the negativity of your friends will can be a barrier to your achieving the success you desire.

Maybe you have heard of Zig Ziglar. When he was starting in his writing career he wrote that he was 165 pounds; the problem was that he was not 165 pounds. He was close to 200 pounds. Immediately he recognized that he had a credibility problem. Does he change his weight to 200 pounds in the book or does he lose 35 pounds.

He decided to lose the wieght. He wanted to do it properly so he went to his doctor for advice. Once there he realized that this was a problem because his doctor was over weight and decided right then that he needed a new doctor. A doctor that believed in what Zig wanted to accomplish.

The moral of the story is that you must surround yourself with people that share your goals and ideas. If they do not they will not be supportive and, in fact, they will be negative and detrimental to your efforts.

Job Search – What Are You Made Of?

Are You a Survivor?

I recently finished listening to “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood. This should be mandatory reading for anyone that is unemployed or under employed and looking for work!

The book is not about employment and there is nothing in it employment related; it is simply stories about survival against the greatest of odds. Some of the important characteristics that are made by all of the survivor stories include:

  1. Faith
  2. Courage
  3. Commitment
  4. Determination

As I listened to these stories the parallels that can be drawn to the challenges faced by job seekers is easy to see.

Faith

Job seekers must have faith and know that the right job is out there for them. So many job seekers are susceptible to the negative thoughts of their own and others; that they forget about the importance of faith. Whether that faith is placed in a supreme being or faith in themselves is irrelevant. Faith is a critical characteristic necessary to overcome the influence of the negatives.

Courage

The unemployed and under employed must remain courageous throughout their ordeal. Yes, I said ordeal, because that is just what it is. Finding that next opportunity is a challenge and especially in this job market. Regardless of what they say in Washington and elsewhere about things improving; if you are out of work or under employed – you just do not see what they are seeing.

It takes courage to maintain your faith and your persistence, but you absolutely have no choice. Courage can help you stay positive and committed; which you must. Without these traits prospective employers and recruiters may see through the veneer and realize that you are desperate. Employers do not want desperate employees; they want people that are in control and will be productive.

Commitment

Are you committed to your job seeking process? I mean are you really committed to the process? Many job seekers profess to be committed but when “push comes to shove” it is a half-hearted commitment. Where are you in the process?

One of the first things that you must be ready to do is to change. No, not change someone else, but to change yourself. What is your mindset when it comes to describing yourself?

      Do you see yourself as someone that changes as necessary or are you set in your ways?
      Do you see yourself as possessing a set of skills or do you see yourself as the job title you previously held?
      Do you see yourself as someone willing to learn new things or as someone who is too old to learn?
      Do you see yourself as someone with too little experience or someone willing to work to gain experience?

Commitment says that you have moved past these self-limiting beliefs and that you are ready to progress. To progress in your career and job search requires that you have a willingness and desire to change. Without change you cannot progress; in fact, you cannot even tread water. Without change you will drift with the current and it will take you over the waterfall, through the rapids, or out to see. When you drift you are powerless to control your destiny.

Determination

A successful job search requires determination that will see you through any setbacks or negativity. If you do not get the job, there is a reason. You may not agree, you may strongly disagree; but if you cannot put it behind you – you cannot progress.

Progression is they key and to progress you must move all of the negatives, your own or those of others, out of your way. You must have a strong belief in yourself, you must love yourself, you must be willing to continue moving forward, in spite of the negatives.

If you have people that are telling you that you cannot do it, that you are ridiculous to think you can do it, and any of the other negatives; get rid of them! You do not need that in your life. If they cannot pick up on your vision and support you in your efforts; what good are they? Some will say you need a dose of reality; maybe so, just not their reality. Do not let others put the box around you and do not box yourself in.

Commitment says that you will not allow yourself to be boxed in by yourself or anyone else. You are committed to making it through to your desired goal.

Using LinkedIn to Have the Job Find You

Using LinkedIn in Your Job Search

The first question that you must answer is: are you trying to find a job or are you trying to be found? Put another way are you pursuing an opportunity or do you want the opportunity pursuing you.

There is a huge difference in the success you will achieve if others are pursuing you. If you are being pursued it means that you have created a brand, that people know you by what you have done and are capable of doing. You are recognized for the value that you offer. Is this important? Absolutely, you want to be in the driver’s seat!

So You Want To Be Found

Obviously you are in a much stronger bargaining position if the employer has done the search and is now pursuing you. To me, this is the situation I prefer.

Wanting to be found, however, requires that you have the right mindset. You must not only feel that you are worthy of being sought after, but you must believe that you deserve to be sought after. You must also have the experience to back it up.

To be the object of the search a person must have a very strong profile. You must understand the skills and abilities that you possess. These aren’t the ones that you think you possess, but the ones that others believe you possess.

Descriptors Others Attribute to You

Developing this list requires you contact former co-workers, managers, customers, subordinates, vendors, and others with whom you have interacted and ask them for an honest assessment of your skills and abilities. Ideally they will include examples of situations where you displayed the skills and abilities that they identify. Assemble the list and look for the recurring theme in the lists. Obviously the more lists that you have the better picture you can develop.

Next research advertised jobs based upon the skills and abilities that you have compiled from the above exercise. Find out what job titles are associated and what additional skills are desired. Check your lists and see how the assessments you received can compliment these additional desired skills.

Use the Google SEO tool to find out the frequency the skills on your list are used as search criteria and factor that into your choices.

Develop Your List of Keywords

Once you have completed these tasks build your profile to include these keywords. Seed these words, as appropriate, in your prior work experience, your professional headline, your summary, and your interests. Ask the people that provided you with your skills inventory to write recommendations that include these words as well.

To get the best attention, not necessarily the most attention, you want to be very focused in your process. Employers like to know what they are getting and where they will be able to use your talents. There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than to have someone say “I will do anything”; most businesses do not have “anything” jobs.

If you are pursuing the job and doing the looking you still want to have a detailed understanding of what skills and abilities people attribute to you. Build your profile around those skills and abilities. Again do the Google search to see which skills or abilities were desired by the most prospective employers.

Your resume must showcase these same talents; consistency is important. Do not make your resume a duplicate of your profile; instead your profile is your opportunity to expand on the resume and tell more details of your story. It is critical that resumes and on-line profiles tell your story. People like reading stories; they don’t want to simply have a bunch of facts shoved at them. Ideally they want the story that bears out the facts.

Use LinkedIn to search for the key skills and abilities that you possess to see who and what job titles were unearthed. Continue doing searches on the key skills and abilities, but also do searches on the job titles that you uncover.

Study the profiles of the individuals that you find with positions that had appeal to you and assess those profiles compared to yours to see how you could improve.

We are never perfect; we can always improve; but we don’t want that improvement process to cloud our true objective of getting a job.

Job Seekers – To Pursue or Be Pursued

Some Job Seekers Pursue, While Other Job Seekers Are Pursued

There are many different ways to seek new opportunities but all of them will fall into one of two categories: to pursue or to be pursued. A job seeker that is pursuing is the person that is out beating the bushes looking for the next opportunity.

The pursuers are targeting employers, sending resumes, filling out applications, searching job boards, networking and making contacts, responding to want ads, etc. They are working to find that next opportunity.

The Pursued

The second category are the pursued. Those are people like Lee Iaccoca in the 1980s, when Chrysler was looking for someone to save the company. Iaccoca’s performance record with Ford made him not only a logical, but a great choice. Iaccoca was the father of the Mustang and that innovative mind was just what Chrysler needed; a person with talent and vision. Iaccoca was pursued by Chrysler.

This is what today’s job seeker should be looking to accomplish with their career.

  • What have you done in your past that you can do in your future to make people seek you?
  • How are you presenting your skills and abilities?

The pursued have a brand and a reputation that is known by some or even many. The more that know your brand the greater your appeal and the greater your opportunities.

Develop Your Brand

Success requires that you develop, build, and promote your brand. Do you have a brand? What is your brand? How can you promote your brand?

These are important questions that you must be able to answer and then act upon. What can you do to establish your expertise and gain the visibility necessary to promote your brand?

Developing your brand requires that you have visibility. In the past this was often difficult to accomplish. There were limited places where you could promote and there was tremendous competition to get your information placed. Today that has all changed.

With the advent of Social Networking. Blogs, and other Internet capabilities; you can get your word out. There are numerous outlets (magazines, ezines, blogs, websites, etc.) where you can gain tremendous visibility and credibility. These outlets suffer constantly from the lack of quality information and ideas. They are experiencing increasing competition for materials and therefore they are always looking for new material and differing perspectives. If you want to get the recognition; the possibilities are unlimited.

Are you pursuing or being pursued? Most job seekers fall into the category of pursuing; what can you do to change yourself from pursuing to being pursued?

Is Thinking Out of the Box the Correct Advice?

Maybe Thinking Out of the Box Is All Wrong

I just finished reading “The Age of the Unthinkable” by Joshua Ramo and it has made me reflect on this topic. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.

We hear frequently about the idea of thinking outside the box and I’ve come to realize that maybe outside the box is not the correct term. In the book Ramo uses the example of a picture. Many pictures have a foreground object and then the background. Since reading the book; I now look at the foreground object as my current job and the background as my skills that put me in that position.

Your Job May Be Obsolete, But That Does Not Mean That You Are Obsolete

When a current job disappears, I mean becomes obsolete; if we are focused on the foreground then we have become obsolete as well. But if we look at the background as our skills, abilities, and talents that put us into the job we will see that we have many things working in our favor to continue moving us forward.

Personal Experience

When I discuss issues pertaining to job searches; I speak from experience. I have had numerous occasions over the past fifteen years where I have had to search for a job. Sometimes it was because a contract ended, sometimes it just was not the right fit, and sometimes I was too honest and people did not like it. Whatever the reason I have experienced many of the same situations as you. I have walked into the office and been told that today was my last day on more than one occasion. No preparation, no advance notice, nothing, just you are done.

Here’s an example; I’m in IT and after 9/11 my projects which were all new infrastructures, just dried up. I had been working for a local firm for a couple of years and things were going well. 9/11 changed all that and their business just came to a standstill. I was a contractor and they had to cut costs immediately. I was expendable and quickly out of work. They told me to come back after the first of the year and see where things stood. They did not pick up and eventually the operation shut down. Although not permanently obsolete it was devastating enough to be a challenge.

I lamented and mourned and went through months of not moving forward. Finally I stepped back and looked at all the things I had done (the background of my picture) and realized that, although I was not an IT security expert, I had over 20 years of IT security experience. I had grown up with IT security from four letter passwords to what it was at the time.

Restructure Yourself Based Upon What Made You What You Were; Not For What You Were

I restructured my resume to focus on this experience and lo and behold I found a job. Everything I needed was in the box, I just had to get past the foreground picture to find it.

We do not need to go off the deep end, we just need to be willing to look beyond the obvious.