Q: While I watched friends and colleagues lose their jobs last year, I managed to avoid being in that position. Unfortunately, this recession finally got me in the New Year. Everyone says that networking should be a crucial part of my job search, but I don't have a clue about how to do this. Suppose a friend has given me a referral. What do I say when I approach this person?
A: To become a nominee for Networker of the Year, recognize that people will meet you for a variety of reasons. They may:
- Do it as a favor to a friend or manager whom they respect, admire or fear
- Enjoy playing the "expert"
- Have an altruistic desire to help you to make a critical life decision
- Expect you have valuable information or business opportunities for them either now or in the future
- Be looking for good employees, and you sound like a worthwhile prospect
- Be feeling congenial when you serendipitously call at just the right moment
Whatever their motive, you must be prepared to allude to one or more of the above reasons for calling. For instance, if your good friend, Jim Collins, suggested you contact his friend Susan in Dallas, you would say:
"Hi. This is Taunee Besson. Jim Collins and I were playing golf last Saturday when your name came up in the conversation. I told Jim I was thinking about moving to Dallas and he said that, before I talk to anyone else, I should call you. According to Jim, you can tell me all about the city and introduce me to everyone worth knowing. Since I've always found his advice to be right on target, I'm starting my Big D research with you. Besides, I promised I would send his regards, ask about your new granddaughter, and report back to him on our conversation."
By beginning your call with these few carefully selected words, you have:
- Alluded to an important friendship between Susan and Jim
- Acknowledged her expertise on Dallas and its people
- Indicated you are also a good buddy of Jim's who might make an excellent employee or colleague for her or one of her other Dallas friends
- Mentioned that you agreed to tell Jim about your conversation
- And asked about her granddaughter, who undoubtedly is the light of her life
How can this woman refuse to talk to you when you've given her so many good reasons to believe your impending phone conversation or visit will be both enjoyable and rewarding?