So, You Have a Great Connection with a Target Company. Now What?

So, You Have a Great Connection with a Target Company. Now What?Many executives have heard that networking is the #1 way to land the best jobs fastest, but when it comes to the mechanics of doing so, they falter. That’s understandable. After all, networking isn’t taught in many places, so unless your work demands it (as it does in sales or business development, for example), you may not have had a chance to learn the in-depth, brand-driven networking that an effective 2018 job search requires.

Perhaps an example will help. Let’s say you have a friend who has a friend who just got a job in exactly the kind of company you’d like to join. You hear the company is still hiring and you’d like to leverage your friend’s connection. What is the best way to proceed without overstepping your bounds or ruining a potentially great connection?

If your career communications portfolio (resume, value proposition letter, LinkedIn profile, and executive bio or marketing brief) has already been professionally written or updated, you’re ready to act on this opportunity right away.

  1. First, talk to friend #1 to get the full scoop. What is friend #2’s name, title, and employer? When did friend #2 join the company? What other background details can you gather about friend #2, the company, or their hiring mode? Most importantly, ask friend #1 if she or he will recommend you to friend #2. Can you use friend #1’s name in your communications with the latter?
  2. Next, do some research. Check out the company’s website, services or products, and LinkedIn page if you weren’t already familiar with the firm. Review their social media, news and about pages, and blog, if they have one. Take notes, print pages, and prime yourself to identify the match between their likely needs and your potential contribution(s).
  3. Like and follow them. Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn and any other relevant social media, and sign up for LinkedIn company updates and their blog RSS feed. This will keep you in the loop of all their external communications.
  4. Check out friend #2’s LinkedIn page. Study his or her background and note if you have any LinkedIn groups or other qualities, traits, connections, or experiences in common.
  5. Invite friend #2 to connect with you on LinkedIn. Armed with this background information at your disposal, you’re ready to reach out and invite friend #2 to become a connection. Make certain that you craft a personalized LinkedIn invitation message that includes friend #1’s name. At this point, it is premature to go into any detail about you. Instead, make a note of any commonalities you found in Step 4. If appropriate, offer a compliment about friend #2’s career or credentials. Keep it short but authentic.
  6. If friend #2 accepts your invitation, send a personalized “thank you for accepting my invitation” message. If they do not, give them two weeks before repeating your invitation. If they still do not reply, circle back to friend #1 and ask him or her to reach out to friend #2 and introduce them to you on LinkedIn or via email, whichever he or she prefers.
  7. Send friend #2 2-3 helpful articles, blog posts, links, or resources. These can be yours or those of others, though if the latter, make sure you attribute them appropriately. The idea here is to give before you try to get something from this person who does not yet know you. Find information resources that are likely to be helpful to them in their new role, yet things they may not have stumbled onto on their own.
  8. Send a brief get-to-know-you message along with your executive bio. Keep your message short, but hone in on the experiences, accomplishments, and credentials you possess which are most likely to be of interest to friend #2’s new employer. Do not send your resume or CV at this stage.
  9. Follow-up every 1-2 weeks. Alternate emails with phone calls, voice mails, or LinkedIn messages as appropriate. Also alternate “just checking in” messages with more articles, blog posts, links, or resources.
  10. Circle back to friend #1. Make sure you periodically drop friend #1 a note about how things are going and certainly let him or her know of the outcome. Be sure to thank friend #1 and be specific about how you can return the favor when he or she has a professional networking need. Consider sending a snail mail thank you note regardless of the outcome of your networking efforts or job search.

Notice that this 10-step process does not include forwarding your resume and that your bio isn’t even shared until Step 8. The reason for this is that a resume or CV offers too much detail too early in the networking process. As a result, a resume tends to close doors before they can open. A BrandYou™ bio, on the other hand, helps to open doors and paves the way for submission of your resume.

You will also note that this is a somewhat slow process, taking several weeks in its entirety. Hiring is a very slow business in most companies, and there’s nothing you can do about that. The good news is that you can leverage this process in as many target companies as you like simultaneously to help hasten your job hunt along.

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