I know that some of you who have been at job search for a period of time may find this hard to believe, but everyone wants to help, it is just that they don’t always know how.
I see it all the time at chapter meetings. Each person does their 90-second elevator speech, but rarely do they make clear how I can help them. Sure they might make a request, but it is not always something I can wrap my mind around.
Many years ago I had lunch with Ted Stone, one of our members of long standing. It was a networking lunch of the first order, because Ted came prepared. He had with him one of the most powerful tools for job search – a target company list.
I know this technique is taught at most outplacement firms, but I think we tend to take the lesson a little too literally. In my parlance, a target company list is a SUGGESTION of the kinds of companies where you might consider working. It is a way of getting the juices going and the mind of your networking contact cranking.
Whether the networking is done in person or over the phone, you need to be aware that you are faced with what I call the “death in the family” or “the cancer thing” PLUS a lack of knowledge. Those you are calling are aware of your situation and want to help, but they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. In addition, if they themselves have not been “in the hunt” recently, they don’t know the rules of engagement.
You are in the tough situation of putting their fears to rest about hurting your feelings somehow (as if not returning your phone calls won’t hurt your feelings) while at the same time having to teach them about job search. Not an easy task even for an expert.
With a target company list I get something I can hang on to, literally. (Paper is comforting, don’t you think?) Ted even had the names of specific individuals he wanted to meet. (We have all heard about 6 degrees of separation, so it really wasn’t far fetched.)
If you have Real Estate firms listed like Olympia & York, I might be able to come up with Frank Mercede & Sons (a local Connecticut firm). It may not be in your best interest to work at any of the easily known firms, but this process will put you in touch with those who HAVE worked there. It may even be folks that they only know casually, but it doesn’t matter. What you are trying to do is get your background in front of those for whom it will make sense.
Word association games are a lot of fun. (Seriously) And, the added advantage is that they will get your networking contact to RELAX. It is only when they are relaxed (Oh boy, I really will be able to help!) that they can come up with lots of names for you.
The bonus here is that the more names they can come up with the better they will feel about THEMSELVES.
It really is a kick to be able to offer real help. (Take it from one who knows.)