When You Meet Someone, Tell Them What You Do!
A ‘Networking’ Goal
It’s a rule in networking . . . . . you are at a non-business-related function (a neighborhood party, a school activity for one of your children, etc.). You meet someone - and you become known as Michelle’s father or Adam’s mother. That is not a bad way to be known, by the way. But there is an opportunity missed here. So many activities, especially in business, come through networking (especially in the Twin Cities - no one leaves here so it seems). Connections last and last.
Many years ago when I worked in the career transition industry (outplacement company - Career Dynamics, one of the founding CPI [Career Partners International] companies), I had candidates who found positions because of the ‘casual’ mention of what they did for a living. One candidate found a new role (head of IT) through the volunteer soccer coach of her child; one candidate found a new role (head of commercial real estate) through his barber. (The next person in the barber’s chair after the candidate was the owner of a commercial real estate company who was complaining about how hard it was to find good people.)
Executive Search ‘Sales’
We are not a company that ever makes a ‘hard sell’. Our goal - become known as a resource for the hiring of key leadership talent for organizations in our target market. And there are two recent ‘leads’ that came to us that way.
- I work out early in the morning, showing up as early as 4:15 a.m. on a weekday/5:30 a.m. on weekends (no judgements please). While my fitness center is hardly crowded at that time, I am not the only person in attendance. The person most commonly on the machine next to me is a ‘regular’; we have had multiple short conversations. He is currently out of town and reached out to me by e-mail . . . . . he sits on a non-profit board and they need a COO.
- Much to the chagrin of my (now adult) children, I will start a conversation with anyone. In my office building, I have gotten to know my neighbors from other businesses. One such neighbor (who works in commercial real estate - no connection to the above story) has a global client that is opening an operation in the Twin Cities. They need an operational leader. The referral was made (and the search starts later this month).
Follow-Up (Make This Your Top Priority)!
Maybe the most important rule in networking (and for most of life) is to follow-up. It really is or should be a life rule. You promise to send your resume - do so! You promise a call to set up coffee - do so! Each week, I get multiple resumes e-mailed to me (I have a retained executive search firm and am purposely on multiple lists of firms). Many of the ‘cover e-mails’ state overtly that the candidate will call to follow-up. This has been going on for years, dating back to when I worked in corporate staffing functions and received hundreds of mailed resumes weekly. Conservatively, 99+% of these candidates never call.
A business lesson needs to be mentioned here as well. My firm is being considered for a senior municipal leadership search. The inquiry to my firm came by e-mail to our general e-mail address (monitored by our Office Manager). She forwarded the e-mail to me. During the course of my conversations with the hiring leader, I asked about how he found us. He stated that he reached out to three firms he had found through his on-line research. He went on to say that only two of the firms responded to him. (Unsure if any of my competitors read this blog, but there is a firm out there that missed a potential opportunity.) This person then thanked me for my follow-up to him.
Technology Makes It Simple
Remember stamps and envelopes? Remember trying to get the envelope to feed through the printer? History! Remember worrying about the cost of a long-distance call? History!
Sending a quick e-mail note, reaching out with an InMail through LinkedIn, or simply calling makes follow-up fast and simple. It makes the difference!