Leveraging Interpersonal Support in Your Job Search

The third component of Martin Seligman’s PERMA model is Positive Relationships (from his 2011 best-seller, Flourish) – another element that many job seekers overlook in the midst of their searches. Though most job seekers know by now that networking is THE key to a short, successful search, most take a transactional, what’s-in-it-for-me approach rather than building authentic, win-win relationships with contacts.

In my LinkedIn coaching with clients, clients routinely ask the best way to approach recruiters and other key contacts they do not yet know. Their own suggestion is to send an Inmail or email asking for help. While this approach appears logical, it isn’t exactly emotionally intelligent to ask a favor of a stranger before they even know – or care about – you. I suggest doing a little research before reaching out to someone you don’t know:

  • Read the person’s LinkedIn profile and/or run a Google search on them. Identify 1 thing about them that you can reference in your email.

–   Do you have any contacts, employers, groups, training, or education in common?

–   Do they have any interesting hobbies or pastimes?

–   Do you have any history with the places they’ve lived?

–   Have they won any prestigious awards or honors?

  • Note the links they include on their LinkedIn profile. These often point to blogs or Twitter streams. Identify one blog post or tweet you found helpful.
  • Go to the person’s website and read the About Us page or client testimonials. Identify one aspect of their mission, vision, values, or strengths that resonates with you.

Once you’ve conducted your mini-background check, compose a 1-2 sentence introduction of yourself. Follow this with one of the gems you turned up in your research. Pay this person a compliment or congratulate them on their achievements or thought leadership. Let them know they are the kind of person you like to get to know. Here’s a quick example:

“Hi Beth, my name is Joe Schmoe – I’m a sales manager in the enterprise technology space who specializes in propelling existing teams to next-level performance. I came across your LinkedIn profile today and noticed that we are both graduates of XYZ University. Do you ever attend any alumni events or reunions?

I also took at look at your blog. Your recent post on relationship marketing really struck a chord in me. Your tips were most helpful; in fact, I left a comment to that effect on your blog. Keep up the great work!

Based on your insights, I wondered whether you had ever read Authentic Marketing by Jane Doe? Her perspective on relationship-building echoes yours. She offers a wonderful graphic on the relationship management process that prove helpful to you.

Have a great day and do let me know if I can ever assist you in any way.”

Notice that in this initial communication, there is no attempt to capitalize on the connection – just a genuine desire TO connect and a clear demonstration of helpfulness. If I were Beth and received such an email, I would WANT to reach out to this person in thanks.

This kind of give-to-get communication is rare, which makes it a great blessing to receive. Why not try offering it to a prospective LinkedIn contact and see what it grows into?

Here’s to deeper networking success,

Cheryl Simpson