For those of you who have been spending any significant time surfing the job boards may I suggest you stop and turn that energy to networking?
I had the great pleasure of speaking with an old friend of mine some time ago (yes, most of my friends are old, but this one is actually just a little younger than I am). Anyway, this friend has been a retained recruiter for most of his career. He has been through the good times and the bad times. One of the topics we covered today was how senior level executives tend to get their jobs.
The astounding number he quoted me from a study he was sent was that only 2% of senior executives got their jobs from the various job boards. (Is that a disincentive to surfing these websites or what?) Networking was, of course, the number one source at 80%, with the remainder of jobs found being made up of contingency and retained search firms.
I’m not sure why folks tell me they are terrible at networking or why they claim they don’t know how to do it. Everyone knows how to do it. That said networking is a lot of hard work. (I guess that’s why the word “work” is in it). But, it is also a lot of fun if you go about it correctly.
Each week several of our new members get to “feel the love” that is represented by networking. These are the new members who arrive on our doorstep without a sponsor (usually left in a wicker basket and tightly wrapped in a blanket). What we tell these prospective candidates is that we are going to give them 5 names of current members, hopefully some of whom they already know. They are instructed to tell them that they have applied for membership in The FENG and that they will be accepted, but that they need a sponsor. They also are instructed to send a resume. If you have been on the receiving end of one of these new member applicants, let’s be honest, could you say no?
Well, of course not! So after we give these instructions, I try to make clear that NO ONE has ever failed to get a sponsor. Okay, there have been a few people, but they didn’t bother contacting anyone we gave them. (I guess this is like the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear. It just doesn’t make any noise.)
Our approach to providing names is the same one I suggest all of you use in our Member Directory Search feature. Look up the names of firms where you have worked. Look up the names of firms that are on your target company list. Write individual and personal notes to the most appropriate names you find based on when they were there. With respect to firms where you have worked, they may know of you. Failing that, they may know individuals who are known to both of you. Failing that, you just may have a good laugh over the fact that all the characters have changed, but nothing else has at good old XYZ Corporation.
The goal of networking is to find common connections that make sense. People who know what you do or have done are more likely to be able to lead you in the right direction.
But the primary point of tonight’s editorial is that there is little choice to networking because it is the best game going.
If you want a word that is a synonym for power, that word is networking.