We’ve all had the experience of hearing from a friend who asks, “Do you know of any job openings for me?” The answer is usually very short and sad: “No, I’m sorry, I don’t, but I’ll keep you in mind!” And how well do we really keep them in mind?
Here’s a technique that can make networking less stressful and more successful: using a Personal Marketing Plan to start upbeat, productive conversations.
In my last post Networking: Organizations vs. Openings, I discussed the importance of focusing your networking on gathering information about your target companies or organizations. To guide you in doing this, create a document like this sample:
Regional Sales Manager
Seasoned Manager and Sales Consultant in construction and energy management with experience as Regional Manager for Fortune 500 energy firm and as Owner / President of startup (grew to $200K by second year)…” (etc. – but keep it short!)
Energy Management | Team Leadership | (etc.) | (etc.) | (etc.) | (etc.) | (etc.)
Position Sought / Criteria
Position Sought: Regional Sales Manager
Size: Large Fortune 500 company, or green energy company of any size over 100 employees
Location: East Bay, South Bay, San Francisco; or Denver, CO area
ABC Big Energy
Green Innovators, Inc.
(etc. – about 50 organizations)
Then use this document in the following ways:
To focus your networking efforts. Your goal is to gather information and contacts that can help you get a job in any of these companies.
To help your networking partners see how they can help you. If you tell me “I’m looking for a job,” I have no idea how to help you. If you tell me, “I’m looking for a job as a sales manager in a large energy company in the Bay Area or Denver,” now I know what kinds of information to search for in my mind and my address book.
To refer to when asking for a meeting. “I’ve written a marketing plan for my job search, including a lists of organizations I’m interested in, and I wanted to show it to you and get your reaction to it. Can I buy you lunch or a cup of coffee on Friday?” You may find that this opening line gets a better response than others. It’s very low-pressure; your contact knows they’re only being asked for their reaction to something you have prepared.
This approach can make networking less nervewracking and more productive. And your contacts are more likely to remember you, since they’ve had a more complete introduction to you and what you’re looking for.