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How to Find High-Value Networking Contacts with Google and Bing

By Martin Yate, CPC

 Supercharge Your Job Search

A winning job search focuses on getting into conversations with hiring managers - and the people who know them - as quickly and as often as you can. Who are these people? They hold:

The people with these titles are the ones likely to be in a position to hire you or know the person who can. Your challenge is how to find them. We’ll look at how to identify higher-level hiring managers, corporate recruiters and headhunters.

Google & Bing for job search contacts

You can use the search engine(s) of your choice to find the names of high-value contacts. Imagine for a moment that you work in pharmaceutical sales and want to make direct contact with hiring authorities in the Pittsburgh area. If this were you, you would execute a number of searches for each of the people with job titles one to three levels above your own. Each search would include one of these targeted hiring titles plus:

  • “Pharmaceutical sales”
  • “Pharmaceutical sales Pennsylvania”
  • “Pharmaceutical sales Pittsburgh”
  • “Pharmaceutical Mgr sales Pennsylvania”
  • “Pharmaceutical Mgr sales Pittsburgh”
  • “Pharmaceutical Director sales Pennsylvania”
  • “Pharmaceutical Director sales Pittsburgh”
  • “Pharmaceutical VP sales Pennsylvania”
  • “Pharmaceutical VP sales Pittsburgh”

Of course, job titles vary, and with professions like pharmaceuticals that sell their products and services into every community in the country, there are more complex organizational structures. In that case you would include searches with this sequence of titles:

  • “Area Sales Manager, District Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager”
  • “Area Sales Director, District Sales Director, Regional Sales Director”
  • “Area Sales VP, District Sales VP, Regional Sales VP”

If you wanted to find contacts at a specific company, you would repeat these searches using each company name. A little work, yes, but this is your future calling. Besides, this work isn’t exactly brain surgery-- you can do it while watching TV. You’ll find job postings, recruiters, headhunters and, when you dig down far enough, you start to find names that go with your high-value target titles.

Google News, Discussions and Blog Searches

As you complete each search, repeat it as a Google News search. Leave your search terms in the dialog box and simply hit the News tab above on the navigation bar. This searches for the same terms, only this time scanning for media coverage. You also have the option to search for mentions of your keywords in Discussions and Blogs.

Doing News, Discussion and Blog searches has multiple benefits: again you’ll find job postings, recruiters, headhunters, and some names that go with your high-value target titles. However, the biggest advantage of these searches is that the names you find come within the context of a story or a publicly visible discussion. This gives you a conversational icebreaker for your e-mail and/or phone conversation. It also doubles as market research on the companies you hope to interview with. As all Knock ’em Dead readers know, your interviewer will invariably ask what you know about the company. A Google News search can help you prepare.

Here’s how to leverage the vital information you get from a Google News search:

  • With an email , you open with a mention of the media coverage: “I’ve been meaning to call you ever since I saw you quoted in/read your comments on ______.” Add a link so your contact can see his moment of fame again. The immutable laws of ego guarantee that the rest of your message will be read.
  • It is even more effective when you use it to open a telephone conversation: “I’ve been meaning to call you ever since I saw the article in _______.”
  • Because public mention of someone’s name is always a big deal for the ego involved, you should also think about sending a traditional letter and enclosing a copy of the article, blog or discussion. It will get read and possibly shown to someone else, making you memorable for a follow-up phone call.

Recycle Media with Your Social Networks

Interesting articles, blogs and discussions about your profession that you run across in this way also offer good material to post on your social networking groups. It shows you are engaged—which is appealing to recruiters—and because you are sharing items of potential interest to others in your profession, it positions you as a sphere of influence and useful knowledge. You can then reach out to connect with anyone who comments or “likes” your discussion, delivering more valuable networking contacts.

With these results, you will often be able to make direct contact with potential hiring managers or the people who know potential hiring managers. Once you have established an online connection you are very close to getting you into meaningful conversations with someone who has the job opening and the authority to hire.

The Best Career Strategies Deliver on Multiple Fronts

By sharing useful information, you become a center of influence, increasing both your visibility and your credibility with the people who matter in your professional world. With the Knock ’em Dead approach to career management, work you do toward reaching one goal—getting job interviews—invariably helps you reach an additional goal, which is branding. When you increase your visibility and your credibility with network-integrated job search strategies like these, your networking activities simultaneously contribute to building a desirable professional brand.

*  *  *

The focus of a winning job search is to engage in conversation as quickly and as often as you can with people who can hire you. Social media outlets including Facebook and LinkedIn have made finding and opening dialogue with these people much easier. The most valuable networking contacts for your job search are the people who:

  • Hold job titles one, two, and three levels above your own
  • Hold job titles similar to your own
  • Hold job titles that interact with yours
  • Work as corporate recruiters and headhunters

These are the people who are most likely to know of suitable job openings, and are the most likely to have the authority to hire you. This is common sense -- the challenge, of course, is how to find them.

The New Social Networking Attitude

You might be asking yourself, “Who wants to connect with someone like me?”

The answer is that professionals have always known that strong networks are crucial to any smart job search or career move. But before social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, no one had the time for extensive networking, and even if they did, they had no idea where to go for it. That has since changed.

“Most people now are professionally connected in some fashion, and increasingly through their social networks,” says Mike Squires, a senior technical recruiter at PayPal.

Connections aren’t just revealed through social media. Building professional connections that might otherwise have been impossible is now a very real possibility. Doing so takes the right attitude, though. Be bold, but not brazen. Strive for a goal you aim to reach via social networking. Whether that goal is to land a new job, or establish a relationship with a seasoned professional allowing for picking his or her brain, don’t get discouraged if you reach a dead-end. The beauty of this newly interconnected landscape is there are numerous other outlets to explore if one proves fruitless. That’s the attitude.

LinkedIn & Facebook Groups

The people who join LinkedIn have awoken to the fact that deep and relevant professional networks are not only desirable — for reasons that extend far beyond job search —but also are surprisingly easy to foster. One of LinkedIn’s strengths is its thousands of special interest groups that encourage you to communicate and connect with other professionals who share a common interest. On LinkedIn, you can join up to 50 different groups. Networkers on Facebook also have the invaluable asset of specialized group pages. Businesses and professional organizations host Facebook Like pages that allow the like-minded to congregate and share ideas and news.

Twitter also can be used similarly for connecting with professionals of similar drive and interest. Some groups engage in “tweets-ups,” conversations with a particular hash-tag

You get on board with this new way of networking by becoming a member of groups relevant to your profession, but don’t just sign up and troll for contacts. One of the best ways to utilize LinkedIn is to participate in the many discussion forums within the groups you join -- the people you want noticing you. Make time to follow these discussions. Participation in discussion forums gives you a way to advertise who you are and what you do without appearing to do so. With LI groups, anyone can start a discussion and join in.

Other ways to boost your social media presence include:

  • Make comments and “like” the posts of people who are high-value networking targets, then ask them to connect.
  • Start discussions of your own. The easiest way is to post a link to a professionally relevant article, blog or video. Then connect with the people who comment -- that they clicked on your link demonstrates a common interest.
  • Search the group’s membership list for high-value job titles, and request a connection based on a shared profession and group. You can’t connect to just anyone on LinkedIn. You need to share a group or a contact in common with your target if you wish to connect with her.

* You can also make high-value networking contacts by searching the LinkedIn database and keying in a job title and location. For example, an accountant living in Boston might use these search terms: “Manager Accounting Boston.”

The profiles that show up in your search — and there will be thousands —will include people holding this and similar titles, plus headhunters and recruiters who work in either this same location and/or area of professional expertise. Your next step is to check relevant profiles to see if you have mutual connections that can justify a connection request. Sometimes these profiles will contain an e-mail address. This makes contact even easier.

Shared membership in a group counts as an existing connection, and LinkedIn will tell you about group memberships you have in common. If you don’t have a group in common, you can simply join one of the groups in which your target “accounting manager” belongs. Remember to check the person’s “contact info,” listed under “education” at the top of the profile.

Cross-Reference Companies and Job Postings

When your research identifies companies of interest or you come across relevant job postings, you can also perform a LinkedIn database search. For example, you find a job for an accountant in Boston at Citibank and do a search using “Accounting Manager Boston Citibank.” You will likely find people with the exact title or one similar who worked with Citibank in Boston – or, at least have connections to someone who does.

These results will often give you direct contacts to potential hiring managers, or at worst the people who know the potential hiring managers. Make a connection request, and you are very close to getting into a conversation with someone who has the job opening and the authority to give you a job.


Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.


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