Networking: Get to the Point

“Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” Did that sentence make you cringe just now? If so, it’s OK. That phrase creates the same reaction in nearly every person who hears it. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. They do not know anyone who’s hiring.
  2. They don’t really know what you do for a living.
  3. They have no idea if you could do the job they do know about.
  4. They did hear that the fast food chain down the street was hiring, but they figure it’s not the job you want.

And finally, they’re too busy to help, if they could.

In Jill Konrath’s book, SNAP Selling, she says, “Many of the people you’re calling on today suffer from a severe case of Frazzled Customer Syndrome. This debilitating condition is brought on by excessive workloads, 24/7 availability, information overload, lack of sleep, and job-related stress.”

Guess what? As a job seeker, you’re trying to reach many of the same people Jill’s book talks about – decision makers. Knowing your audience is key to getting them to read your resume, interview you, and hire you.

Here’s a day in the life of one human resources (HR) manager, the typical person many job seekers target initially. Let’s call her Sally:

Sally runs the HR functions of a manufacturing plant. She is in charge of human resources functions for 500 employees.

She had to downsize one of her staffers to meet budget. So, she and her two assistants are doing the job of that extra person.

In addition to her standard daily duties, including those of the eliminated position, Sally has to meet with the regional human resources director once a month or more to update her on HR initiatives at her plant, plus those initiatives Sally developed to roll out to the other plants nationwide. Sally’s a go-getter her regional manager counts on for these initiatives.

At her own manufacturing plant, retention is an issue. To combat this, she’s rolling out a new employee incentive program, which requires that she meet with EACH of the 500 employees to discuss the program.

Know that Sally reports directly to the company president and has regular strategic planning meetings with the president, operations manager, and two other VPs every week. Sometimes she meets with the operations manager daily, depending on the situation.

Plus of course, there’s always ongoing training she has to complete to remain on top of state and federal hiring practices. Once she’s updated, she then trains others to ensure all HR functions are in compliance with federal, state, and company regulations.

When Sally does advertise a job opening, she gets anywhere from 200 to 500 applicants. She and her team review the resumes, when they have a chance. Of those who send resumes, more than half of them do not even meet the minimum requirements. Then, others are overqualified. Her concern? They won’t stick. If they don’t stick, it means that $10,000 to $50,000 was wasted in training the new hire – and it means she made a bad decision. At least, that’s her thinking.

It’s important to realize what’s happening on the other side of the table when you’re in job search mode.

People are busier than ever because they’ve absorbed other employees’ work functions to cut costs. They are over-worked, multi-tasking to the point of ADD, and have 40 hours of work to do in one day, not one week.

By the time your resume hits their desk in response to an ad, they’re already overwhelmed.

And the candidate’s follow-up call, “Did you get my resume?” falls on deaf ears.

I wanted to share this information with you to emphasize why it is so important to be personal, yet get to the point quickly, during your job search. Why it’s mission critical to build personal relationships, instead of simply making one million connections.

Why it’s important to pick up the phone and have in-person meetings that are of value to your network. And by “of value” I don’t mean, “Do you know anyone…” When you do make that follow-up call, be a resource your network, one that a potential employer, can count on.

It’s important to fuel your network to fire it up – to fire it up to help you get your next gig.

And it’s even more important to get to the point quickly when you do connect.

Here’s what must be conveyed when you talk with those in your network when you’re looking for a job:

Focus – What is it you want?

Share – What do you bring to the table that others do not?

Tell – Where do you wish to work? Name names!

Here’s what questions you’ll be answering specifically, with your new Rock Your Network® “FST” way, instead of the old, “Do you know anyone who’s hiring?” phrase:

New Rock Your Network® way is FST (read: fast!) – Focus, Share, Tell:

They do not know anyone who’s hiring.

FST: They may, if you Tell them the companies where you wish to work. Name names.

They don’t really know what you do for a living.

FST: They will when you Share what you bring to the table that others do not AND when you mention the career Focus you wish to target.

They have no idea if you could do the job they do know about.

FST: They’ll know more when you Share one of your latest achievements.

They did hear that the fast food chain down the street was hiring, but they figure it’s not the job you want.

FST: When you share your career Focus, they won’t even think about this one!

Too busy.

FST: Not any more! You are clearly communicating your goals when you use your new FST (fast!) sound bite, which is Focused, Shares what you bring to the table, and Tells your network where you wish to work – and how they can help you best.

Do you want more help creating your new “get to the point” sound bite? Grab a copy of my book, Rock Your Network® for Job Seekers, which takes you through the networking process step-by-step. And it covers far more than your sound bite!

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© 2010 by Wendy J. Terwelp. All rights reserved.

Wendy Terwelp, Knocks.com, has helped thousands of clients get hired faster and be rock stars at work since 1989. A recognized expert on networking, both online and off, Wendy has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Fast Company, The Business Journal, Careerbuilders.com, Monster.com, and more as well as numerous radio shows. She has published hundreds of articles on the web and in print and wrote the ultimate networking book, “Rock Your Network® for Job Seekers.” Learn more at http://knocks.com.

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