Networking on over-drive

Well, the U.S. Labor Department dispatched its usual grim report yesterday about the economy shedding 467,000 jobs and the unemployment rate creeping up to 9.5 percent in June. That's why it's key for those of you who are unemployed to be strategic about your job search. On Monday, I interviewed local career coach Ford Myers in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He wrote a book titled Get the Job You Want When No One's Hiring. Myers talks alot about networking. What follows is one of his suggestions from parts of the interview that didn't make into the newspaper for space reasons.

Ford: Remember I said earlier that you don’t want to come across as a desperate job seeker, but instead you want to be a solution provider.  So, let’s pretend that you’re at a networking meeting, and let’s say it’s a really good one.  And things are really clicking and you feel a real connection and the person’s really engaged and listening to everything you say, and you see a connection. You can really sense that they have some issues or some needs or some problems back at their company that you are ideally positioned to contribute [to help them.] 


So instead of just saying, “Okay, thanks, nice to meet you.  Take care. Bye. I’ll call those friends that you told me about,”  you say to the other person, “You know, I think I might have some ideas for you. You’ve been very generous to me.  I’d like to give something back to you.  Is it okay if I — when I get back to my office — write down some of the things that you’ve said here today and capture what some of your problems and needs and challenges seem to be?  Then what I’d like to do — with your permission — is offer a couple of solutions that might be of value.  Would that be all right?” 


Now, of course, the person’s going to say, “Sure.  Why not?”  So you go back to your office our your home, and what you do is you create what’s called a “Proposal for Service.”  And this is essentially a document that has an introductory paragraph or two and then you split it into two halves with a line down the middle.  On the left hand side you articulate very clearly their stated needs, problems, and challenges.  On the right hand side, you answer each one of those items with solutions that you have successfully provided them in past. 


When the person receives this letter, there are two possibilities of what will happen.  Either they’ll say, `oh, that’s nice,' and throw it away.  Or they’ll pick up the phone and they’ll call you as the candidate.  And they’ll say, “This is a very interesting letter you sent.  Would you be willing to come back in and talk to us?  We’d like to talk to you.”  Now when that happens, now you’ve got something.  You’re in the beginning of creating a new opportunity that was never posted.  No other candidates.  Only you.