Posts Tagged ‘Business networking’

Last week I discussed the best way to get around the salary question for online applications is to stop relying on online applications and pursue the hidden job market. This makes sense not only to get around the salary question, and the general road block of HR, but also because 80% of the truly open jobs are in the hidden job market. Before we go any further, what is the hidden job market? It is not that the jobs are buried somewhere hidden. It is any opportunity that is not currently posted on the job boards. This can consist of jobs that are in the still in the internal candidate search process, jobs that are in the process of being defined, or opportunities to solve problems that have yet to be identified in a job description. Your success in this depends on a purposeful strategy with a clearly defined goal of where you want to go. In the words of Yogi Berra:

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

Start off creating a list of Target Companies based, not on jobs posted, but on your passions and interests. While not all companies have job openings, all companies have problems. In order to differentiate yourself from the masses of job seekers, you need to position yourself as a solution, not a job seeker. In order to position yourself as a solution you need to know the problems and headaches of your target companies. In order to understand the problems, you need to research your target companies. Finally in order to research your target companies, you need to have target companies.

Once you have your list of target companies, begin your research, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can find a few resources here.

From here you are in a position to produce industry wide special reports which are great keys to get you in the door for information meetings. Use these as a launch-pad for a social media campaign to establish your reputation as a thought leader and subject matter expert in your particular niche. Simultaneously, you need to network network network. This doesn’t mean just attend a ton of networking event collecting business cards to put on your desk. Strategically and purposefully engage in professional organizations taking positions on committees and boards, so that you can work on a professional level with influential people in your target industry. For your success in the hidden job market, it is not necessarily what you know, or even what you know, but who knows you, and what their perception is of you that will maximize your career opportunities.

How are you strategically researching your target companies and spreading your reputation as a subject matter expert or thought leader in your particular niche?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a BBQ networking event hosted by my friend Wayne Yoshida. The idea is simple. You are always attending various types of networking events where you have a short time to connect with a large number of new people. Wayne’s inspiration, which was from reading the book Never Eat Alone, is rather simple. Invite people you meet at some of these events, along with some people you regularly network with, and get together over a BBQ and pot luck. You have a few hours to talk in an informal and relaxed environment and an opportunity to get to know others in ways you do not at other networking events. So not only did we have killer ribs along with some other very good food, but I also learned quite a bit more about some people in my network, and got a better idea of how we can help each other. Maybe the next idea is Sushi Making Networking? What is your idea for fun networking?

In a recent blog, I wrote about business cards and how they impact your brand. Today, I would like to talk about the etiquette of business cards, and how this can positively impact your effectiveness in networking and ultimately your career management or career search. I was lucky enough to begin my career in Japan, and this has significantly impacted my perspective on this. In Japan, the business card is an extension of the person. Exchanging business cards is a ritual in Japan. The way you give and receive a card demonstrates your respect of the other person. The information on the card lets each party know the hierarchy, and how they should behave towards the other party. What I learned is the importance of acknowledging information on the card, and using that to demonstrate my interest in the other person. Now, whenever I exchange cards, I always look at the name and title of the person giving me their card. Unfortunately, I do not have the best memory, so I say the name and title for the person out loud, and this helps me to remember the person. It also lets the other person know that I am paying attention to them. How many times have you been at a networking event, where the noise level is so high, it was difficult to hear what the other person does? How many times have you met a person, and by the time you finish talking with them, you have forgotten the name and title of the person you are talking to? By looking at and repeating out loud the information on the card, you are providing an additional method of inputting the information into your head, and remembering the person. How many times have you given a card to someone and they immediately put the card in their pocket without even looking at it? How much were they listening to you? By implementing this into your networking practice, you will not only demonstrate greater respect to the individual you are meeting, but when you look at the card to follow-up with the individual, you will have much greater recollection of the person you met and the conversation that took place, allowing for a much more effective follow-up.