Tag Archives: networking

An email from God gives me a crazy idea

God sent me an email today.

The sender name was “God” and evidently wants me to buy his products.   Obviously this was spam. But sometimes even email that doesn’t interest you can provide a door to a job opportunity.

Since I request white papers and manuals online, I end up on various email lists.  The senders assume I still work for a medium to large company and invite me to attend conferences or listen to sales pitches.

I used to delete these emails because I’m unemployed. Today I did something different.

A salesperson at a company I admire requested that I listen to his pitch.  I am aware that I am just one of possibly hundreds receiving the email.  Instead of tossing it, though, I sent a thank you note. 

I apologized for not being able to accommodate his sales effort at this time and explained that I’m looking for full-time regular work.  If the sender knew someone in the Chicago area interested in hiring a communications professional, I wrote, then I would appreciate the tip.

I was surprised when I got a quick and positive response. The company representative said he would be glad to send my resume to a contact in Chicago. I responded with my resume and my gratitude.

If you hope to take the same steps, keep these points in mind:

  • Only respond to a company you know and admire
  • Acknowledge the email and thank him/her
  • Keep your note brief and concise.

If you find this advice helpful, let me know. And good hunting!

Serving coffee and a smile goes a long way

I’m unemployed, but I still go out for a cup of coffee now and then.  It helps me feel less isolated from the rest of the working world. I chatted with my waitress and, as usual, I mentioned I was looking for a job. She nodded her grey head knowingly.

“This place should be packed for breakfast this morning, ” she said. “But not anymore. Coffee, maybe a muffin or a bagel. But not the big breakfasts.”

She leaned forward, speaking more softly while pouring my coffee. “We used to charge extra when a couple would order just one meal and split it–a ‘plate charge,'” she said. “We don’t do that anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true.  We’re all doing what we can, and we have to eat.”

Then she straightened up and smoothed her smock with one hand while holding the coffee pot in the other. “And so what if you’re just having coffee?  You still deserve service, getting cream or whatever you need.  There’s no need to rush out, so stay as long as you want.”

“The manager says we’re lucky to have customers coming here at all, and that’s true! Once the economy gets better–and it will–the folks who remember that we gave them good service will be back to order meals again.”

Sometimes our situations feel bleak. I know I have felt that way at times since starting my job search (for the third time) 12 months ago. Sure networking is vital, but sometimes a trip to the local library or a stop for an inexpensive cup of coffee gives an essential boost.

I’m going back for more coffee tomorrow–and I’m hoping the same server will be there.  She serves a great cup of cheer.

In networking, are you a giver or a taker?

While I don’t like to generalize, I have noticed that there are usually two kinds of folks who attend networking events. The first type has come to take, while the second has come to give. Both are memorable, but how do you really want to be remembered?

The Taker asks, “What can you do for me?”

  • Shows up as the event begins–or a bit late. Avoids greeting people.
  • Might dress loudly or inappropriately (drawing attention)
  • Makes no eye contact until it is his/her time to talk
  • Ignores others making their 3 minute introductions, pointedly checking a Blackberry, calendar, or even a book (yes, really)
  • Interrupts a speaker to ask for information that benefits him/her
  • At the meeting’s conclusion, zooms directly to people he/she thinks can help.
  • Leaves without thanking the organizers or speakers.

The Giver asks, “What can I do for you?”

  • Shows up early if possible. Greets people sincerely.
  • Dresses appropriately for a business meeting. Even jeans are fine (think casual day) with nice shirt or top.
  • Makes eye contact when possible with each participant speaking. Head is up and body language says “I’m listening.”
  • Takes notes about speakers as they talk. Waits until speaker is done to ask questions that are focused on the speaker.  Happy to offer helpful suggestions.
  • Chats with people when the meeting is over to share experiences, seek and give feedback, and generally be accessible.
  • Thanks the meeting organizer and guest speaker (if any) before leaving. 

An inexperienced networker might think that OF COURSE I’m in this for me. However, when you come to give, you get so much more in return. Ignore others at your own peril. You might want their assistance later–or they might have some valuable feedback that you miss because you’re tuning them out. When networkers notice that you’re happy to help, they’re just as eager to return the favor.

Really, this isn’t a big revelation. What’s true in networking is also true in life.

Networking: How to be real in a virtual world

I’m changing how I talk to my new network contacts in the virtual world.

The challenge of using social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is to avoid sounding cold and unfriendly, says Personal Coach Gail Sussman Miller. Miller is the founder and chief obstacle buster of Inspired Choice.

Most of us are more comfortable with networking than we may realize, Miller said. “At a wedding, when you sit down next to a stranger, what is the first thing you ask? ‘Are you here for the bride or the groom?’ You automatically look for common ground. That’s networking,” she explains.

The difference between face-to-face networking and sending emails is that we can forget to add personal warmth to our emails, she said.  For example, the business networking site LinkedIn provides an automatic invite message that states I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

“When you meet new people, do you just shake their hands and say, ‘Join my network’? No. They’d laugh at you,” she said. “When using online networking sites, it’s important to personalize every message.”

What should you say to someone you might barely know? “The whole purpose of networking is being of service, being other-oriented, and being curious. Finding common ground should be a state of mind,” Miller explained.

The same is true with accepting invitations to join networks or discussion groups. If you just hit the ‘accept’ button, then you’ve missed another opportunity to communicate. Use your personal curiosity to look at their profiles, discover shared interests, and acknowledge them in your responses.

At the very least, you can use what Gail asks everyone she meets: “Is there something I can help you with?”

 

ABOUT MY SOURCE: Gail Sussman Miller is Chief Obstacle Buster at Inspired Choice.  Her firm teaches executives, women solopreneurs, and teams how to turn obstacles into opportunities by boosting their emotional intelligence. Reduce conflict and stress and get more collaboration, cooperation, and success. For more information, go to www.InspiredChoice.com for “How to Love Networking.” Or see her profile at www.linkedin.com/in/gailsussmanmiller.

What NOT to say during an interview

I think the day after a job interview is one of the toughest days to get through. I have already pored over every detail that I can remember. I have mulled over their responses to my answers. (Did he squint because he didn’t like my example or because he needs new glasses?)

Sometimes we need humor to overcome anxiety, and I decided to imagine how I could have made my interviews so much worse:

“I’d shake your hand but I’ve been really sick. You HAVE had chicken pox already, right?”

“What would my supervisor say about me? She loves me so much that she still calls for help when her computer freaks out. And she still has HER job—funny, huh?”

“Your company website says customers are your top priority, but Complaints.com has a ton of customer complaints about you. Maybe you should change your website.”

“Does your company culture include casual dress every day or are the folks here just sloppy?”

“If your benefits don’t include a transportation stipend, you should consider it. This place is 90 minutes from my house.”

“Sure, this is a great time for a telephone interview. (Don’t hit your sister with that!) Don’t worry—I can still hear you (Tommy, get the puppy. He’d just peed on the floor again.)”

“Do you require doctor notes when employees call in sick on Mondays?”

“You’ll get back to me next week? I hope you mean that. I interviewed with XYZ Corp and they won’t take my calls anymore.”

Enhance Your Networking!

Networking is THE most important activity for job seekers. Some people network to expand their business contacts, get story ideas, or mine for talent, but most of us are in the same boat (the size of an aircraft carrier). Whether you attend formal or informal events, these guidelines make a difference:

DON’T BE SHY. A few days before a big networking event, I suddenly wanted to cancel my reservation, which is not like me. I was overwhelmed with feelings of uncertainty, inadequacy and awkwardness. I attended the event anyway–and found a lot of people had felt the same way.

PREPARE TO MARKET YOURSELF. Bring several copies of your resume or a personal flyer. Make business cards with important details about your qualifications and contact information. Create a 30-second speech about what you can offer a company. Don’t make yourself memorable by being the endless talker, though. Plan to spend a lot of time listening.

GIVE AS WELL AS TAKE. Networking is not just about finding someone to help you but what you can do for others. Typically that help is along the lines of who you know. However, if you don’t know many people, strong communication skills are also appreciated. One financial manager told me, “I wish I could write! That takes real talent,” and I saw other heads around me nod in agreement.

So put your skills to work: offer to edit resumes and cover letters, design a brochure for a new entrepreneur, or explain social media to the uninitiated. If you don’t want to make the offer to everyone (editing 30 resumes is a lot to ask), then consider adding it to your thank you notes.

FOLLOW UP. I bet a survey of networkers would reveal that many of them neglect to follow up after a networking event. Formal event planners make it easier by sending all participants a list of who attended and their contact information. For informal events, you have to rely on your own skills to collect and store information.

Speaking of networking, I have been interviewed by a recruiter for a communications position at Allstate in South Barrington, IL. I don’t know the name of the hiring manager. Does anyone know someone there I can talk to?
Continue reading