Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Networking Tips

Below is a recent e-mail about networking, followed by my response:

Question: Up until now, I have been very successful in my career. Now that I’m between jobs, I find myself shying away from doing what I understand is key to transition, that thing called networking. What can I do to get over this and how can I be more effective in my networking?

Answer: Networking is the way most professionals get re-employed and find meaningful work, and though most know this, many are still reluctant to practice “purposeful” networking. This means developing a disciplined process of connecting with others that is in line with your natural style that you can do with clarity, authenticity and enthusiasm. Here are a few tips:

Develop a brief and compelling elevator pitch that focuses on who you are, what you do, how do you do what you do, and what kind of help you need from the connection.

Follow your curiosity: What is it that you need to know or learn? What advice do you need? What information will help you move forward?

Practice reciprocity: Be in a position to offer your help, ideas, advice, even if this will be given later.

Start with the people you know and move out from there: Everyone who knows you will probably say yes to your request for help and is also likely to have their own interesting set of connections and relationships that you can tap into. Implied here is that you must ask everyone you meet for referrals to other connections.

Develop a disciplined approach: Make networking integral to your transition activities and be sure to continue purposeful networking for the rest of your work life.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman

Friday, April 2, 2010

Whining Your Way to a Meaningful Job Search

I recently facilitated a job search strategy session for a group of 15 mid and senior level professionals and managers. It began with a great deal of complaint about how bad the job market is and how it’s probably going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. After a fair amount of ranting, a couple of participants commented that the “whining” was counterproductive, as well as being annoying to listen to. Once that was acknowledged the whining shifted to a whole other level: Even when I get my next job, it will probably not be what I really want . . . it might pay less . . . it might not be a long commute . . . and so on.

Before long the whole group realized that the energy they were expending in whining was feeble and a-not-very-effective way to connect to what they hoped their next job or career would be like. So, we began to discuss how their whining was distracting them from their efforts to express their values, their desires, and what they really wanted. This lead to a discussion about how they needed to reframe their story from a lament (I hope I get something . . .) and a complaint (I’ll take anything at this point . . .) to a coherent and authentic statement of what is important (This is who I am . . . , what I can do . . ., what I want . . .) and then make necessary adjustments and compromises from there.

They began to see that experiencing the job market as a victim (and hence the continuous whining, as in, ”Why don’t they ever return my calls?”) was counterproductive and started to recognize that a more powerful stance was to see themselves as co-creators of their future. For some people in the room, this was a relatively easy shift—they saw that their previous way was ineffective and, being pragmatic, they could justify making a change; others were at a stage of readiness to hear a new message and were open to considering that there are other ways to conduct their job search. Nearly half the group, however, stayed stuck in their whining and being a victim, and even though many examples were offered to contradict their positions, many became louder and more adamant in their whining.

The bottom line is that each of us always has choice in the matter of how we look for work or change our careers. We can do it the way we always have done it, and “hope for the best,” whining all the way. Or we can step back and look for new options and possibilities, and choose a different path to achieving our goals. By the way, when the session ended, most were still whining as they left the room.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman