Your Networking Questions Answered – Radio Show

In this episode of the SixFigureStart Career Coaching Radio Show, I answered questions on networking. This is a special episode that covers questions from my recent advanced networking strategies workshop for Ellevate:

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Do you recommend any easy icebreakers?

If someone says they could use my styling services, I usually smile and give my card and take theirs. What should I really be doing?

What is the best way to let your network know you are looking for something new without risking your current role?

In your experience, what is a great practice for reaching out and nurturing relationships when you don’t need anything in return?

What’s the biggest mistake young professionals can make with networking? How do you know when you’re ready for the ‘ask’?

If you haven’t nurtured your network very much, but you are looking for a job, how can you mobilize your network quickly?  and is it ok to do this in times of urgent need?

When you’ve done so much networking in a short period of time, what is the most strategic way to follow up on each opportunity? Should you follow up to everyone you meet, even if that relationship isn’t most important in the short term?

What’s the most compelling reference you think one can receive? Do you think it’s important for people to know exactly what it is they have to offer to be effective in adding value?

I’m an independent consultant who is also interested in corporate roles if the right opportunity comes along. If I meet someone and am interested in their company but would also want to do consulting work with them, how would you suggest I present myself?

How to Make Sure You Sail Through a Reference Check – Money.com and Time.com

This job search advice piece originally appears in my weekly career column for Money.com and Time.com:

You’re in the throes of your job search, and things are looking up—with any luck, the recruiter will call soon to ask for your references.

References are important, and definitely not a throwaway step to be considered last-minute. In fact, you shouldn’t only be nurturing your network of references when you’re seeking a job. Remember, these are people who already know and like you. Keeping your references updated ensures that you hear about trends and opportunities in your field—even if you’re employed now you don’t want to miss a great lead.

Here are the right and wrong ways to manage that process:

DON’T just ask your former supervisors to be references.
DO ask vendors, consultants, clients, peers and direct reports.

Your supervisors will always be your most requested reference. However, over the course of your career, you work with a variety of people—not just for your immediate supervisor. Sometimes you work more closely with others than with the person you report to on the organizational chart. Therefore, you need to think more broadly about who can speak for your work than just a boss. Furthermore, your different collaborators can speak to different elements of your work—vendors see your negotiation skills, consultants gauge your teamwork skills, clients know your service quality, peers see you day-to-day, and direct reports know your management style.

DON’T wait until the recruiter asks to check in with your references.
DO line them up in advance.

People move around. You don’t want to find out right before you need the reference that you can’t find that supervisor who knows your work so well. You also want time to find alternative references if one of your choices seems lukewarm when you contact them, or is just so tough to reach that they may not get back to the recruiter in a timely fashion.

DON’T assume references know what to say.
DO coach them on what to highlight.

Your references haven’t worked with you in a while and have since managed others. They won’t remember exactly what you worked on. They also don’t know this job you’re going for so won’t know what to emphasize, especially if you did a lot of different things when you worked for them. Therefore, you need to help them help you—remind them of that big project or key client you want them to discuss, share the job description, and tell them you would appreciate it if they talked, say, about your analytical skills.

Note: this post was inspired by a question I received from a reader. For more on references, see my video blog response to this reader’s question: Did A Bad Reference Blow My Offer?

 

How To Land Press For Your Business Or Career – Video Blog

It’s helpful as an entrepreneur or traditional employee to be mentioned in the press. Media mentions lend credibility and establish your thought leadership. This week’s video blog shares 3 strategies I have used to land press:

Which strategy will you try?

Remember, media mentions are just one way to establish your expertise. I cover 9 more in my blog: 10 Easy Ways To Make Yourself More Hireable.

 

Stop Saying You Are Too Busy To Network – Fox Business

I return to Fox Business Career Accelerator to talk with Lauren Simonetti about how to network in just minutes each day:


Stop thinking that networking has to be a big production — a multi-day conference or a long lunch. There are multiple small steps you can take to build networking into each day.

Which tip will you adopt? You can read more about networking in minutes at: How To Network in Just 5 Minutes A Day.

Lucky Career Breaks: Increase Your Odds – Life Reimagined

In my latest career advice column for Life Reimagined, I talk about the role of luck in job search, career planning and business-building. Luck does matter, but you can make yourself luckier by staying open and observant:

Pouncing on serendipity can be a game changer for your career.

Richard Wiseman believes lucky people generate their own luck with thoughts and behaviors that support being more open and observant. And he should know: Wieseman, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire, is the author of The Luck Factor. In one of his studies on luck, he asked participants to count photographs in a newspaper. Those who characterized themselves as unlucky took several minutes to count the photos, whereas their “lucky” counterparts spent just seconds. The difference? On the second page of the newspaper, a half-page ad appeared with the instruction: Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper. The lucky participants noticed the ad, while the unlucky participants overlooked it.

As a recruiter and career coach, I have seen that being open and observant begets greater fortune. Consider these scenarios, plucked from my client list.

  • A financial services executive turned entrepreneur is pitching a consulting project to a biotech firm. Her biotech-specific network is thin, but as it turns out, a client knows someone who is poker buddies with the biotech CEO.
  • A longtime TV producer taps a well-connected colleague for help in researching a prospective employer for an upcoming interview. Her friend can’t help with that, but as it turns out, she has two other leads for similar roles.
  • A PR director feels all but certain to be overlooked for her dream job during the resume screen because she lacks a key prerequisite. As it turns out, she knows someone on the board who fast tracks her application.

 

The PR director got that job and is still there five years later. The TV producer and consultant are still pitching but have landed interim projects. Are they just lucky to find these serendipities?

Continue reading at Life Reimagined: Lucky Career Breaks: Increase Your Odds.

 

How to Network Your Way to a New Job in Just 5 Minutes a Day – Money.com and Time.com

This post originally appears in my weekly column for Money.com and Time.com:

Does the word “networking” send shivers down your spine? Maybe it would help if I told you that networking doesn’t have to be a big production or a big time drain.

Of course, you want to attend conferences, join professional groups, and have lunches with contacts. Those activities are absolutely worth the investment, but you can do them sparingly.

In between, resolve to network for just five minutes a day. The 10 simple activities below require little preparation, will cost you no money, and can be done during your coffee break. With these ideas, you’ll have no excuse not to network each and every day. And you thought you were no good at networking!

1. Send a birthday greeting. LinkedIn and Facebook both highlight birthdays. Or, you can add your professional contacts’ birthdays as annual events to your Outlook calendar. When you see that it’s someone’s big day, email that person directly with a brief personalized note.

2. Offer congratulations. Social media sites also highlight big moves and wins, including job changes or work anniversaries. You can also use a specialty tool like Newsle, which links to your contact list and lets you know when any of your contacts is cited in the news. When you see good news, send a direct message to congratulate, again personalizing the note.

3. Say thank you. Surely, someone did something nice for you in the past week. Maybe it was a colleague who dug up a report you needed. Maybe it was an old classmate who forwarded an alumni event you would have overlooked. Send a quick email to thank that person: Hi John, thanks again for helping me find that Client X info. I finished the report, and you made my life SO much easier. You’ll probably make that person’s day.

4. Post a career-related article on Facebook. If you’re only using social media to share selfies and personal news, you’re missing an opportunity to remind people what you do professionally—which helps put a bug in your friends’ ears in case they hear of cool opportunities relating to what you do. You don’t need to post your resume to make a professional statement (please don’t, in fact). But you can post an article related to your role or industry, and write a comment that showcases your knowledge. If people aren’t interested, they’ll skim. But if someone is looking for your expertise, they’ll now know to contact you.

5 . Update your social media status. Even if you don’t have an article to recommend, you can post about something you’re working on. It doesn’t have to be detailed, and it doesn’t have to be promotional. An example: Whew! Looking forward to normal working days now that I’ve finished our quarterly revenue analysis.

6. Acknowledge other social media activity. When someone else posts something about what they’re doing—professionally or personally—write back with encouragement, suggestions, or just to acknowledge that it’s nice to hear from them. For example: You popped up on my Facebook feed. It’s been too long since we connected. How are you?

7. Change up your email signature. Your email signature is a passive networking tool: It’s included in your correspondence automatically, and you can use it to include information relating to you and your activities. My email signature rotates every few weeks and includes upcoming events plus titles of my most recent articles (with links).

8. Take a walk around your floor. A strong network is a diverse network. It’s tempting to fall into a rut of hanging out with the same people, typically the people in close proximity to you. Take five minutes to walk to other areas in the office. Say hello and chat with people you don’t regularly see. Then, if you ever have to work on a cross-departmental initiative, you will already have established at least some relationship with your extended colleagues.

9. Ping a random contact Build the habit of picking a contact at random from your phone list or Outlook contacts, and email that person just to say hello. This gets you in the habit of doing some networking each and every day, and it also ensures that you reach out to a wide variety of people, not just the people you naturally think of.

10. Share a recommendation. In the last week, you probably experienced something new—read an article, ate at a just-opened restaurant or tried a new recipe at home. Think of one new thing and of one person you know who might enjoy whatever it is you did. Email that person with the article, restaurant name or recipe, including a short note saying that this new thing made you think of them. They’ll be flattered to pop up front of mind and will appreciate hearing about something new.

How To Stay Creative – Video Blog

Creativity is critical to the entrepreneur thinking up marketing initiatives, business offerings and client solutions. Creativity is equally important to the traditional employee solving problems, innovating new approaches and brainstorming ideas. In this career advice video blog, I share 3 of my favorite strategies for staying creative:

You can read how other small business owners stay creative in this WeWork post by Natasha Khimji: 9 Secrets To Staying Creative. Special thanks to Emma Carter at WeWork for sharing it!

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