A strong personal and professional network is vital for career growth – whether or not you are currently looking for a new position! Having a cache of people in your inner circle with whom you can connect, learn from, and expand your horizons is one of the first lessons of success. At KMR Executive Search, we are firm believers in the power of that circle. Below we’ve shared some of our best networking tips – some may seem a bit obvious, but they are worth repeating! We hope you consider these “networking buckets” as they may provide you with invaluable information, leads, and career advice, and you will more than likely connect with one or more mentors that will guide you on your path to success.
Former Associates/Managers/Colleagues/Direct Reports – These people know you, trust you, respect you, know your strengths, and are more likely to be comfortable making introductions on your behalf. If they have moved on from their previous role, they can be your best source of information and advice. Your former direct reports may now be in decision-making positions.
Vendors/Suppliers/Consultants – If in your role(s) you interacted or currently work with outside service or product providers, consider contacting them. Perhaps there have been vendors or consultants (including accountants, attorneys, etc.) that you met during engagements. They often hear things while working with their other clients, including possible hiring initiatives or management changes.
Customers/Clients – These folks are difficult to approach while you are employed due to confidentiality agreements and ethics, but there may be clients who have your best interest in mind and would be willing to help you.
Industry Groups/Trade Associations – Research and connect with the key organizations related to your industry and/or functional role. By joining an organization or attending an event, you will access the group’s membership directory, which can be a source for contact names and organizational information. Get involved and make connections.
Competitors – Hiring managers will often prefer to hire a “plug and play” candidate – someone who knows the industry, possesses the expertise, and requires minimal ramp up or learning curve. In addition, they don’t mind poaching talent from their competition.
Executive Search Firms – Get yourself on their radar. This is not easy as large search firms tend to be unresponsive to job seekers unless, of course, you are a perfect fit for a role for which they have a current opening. Large search firms usually have practice groups, broken out by industry sectors and/or functional roles. If you contact the head of a practice group via email be sure to include your resume. You may not hear back, in fact you probably won’t, but at least they will upload your resume to their database.
LinkedIn. All recruiters, whether internal or third-party search firms use LinkedIn as a part of their candidate research process. Be sure that your profile is up to date. No need to dump your entire resume-worth of information but provide some detail. Your headshot should be professional. Consider adding your personal contact info – email and/or cell to the “About” section in your profile. This makes contacting you much easier for recruiters, and they won’t have to contact you at your current employer (although we will if we have to).
Also, a few things to consider…
In general, we advise that when reaching out to a prospective networking contact you do not say, “I’m looking for a job.” This statement tends to back people into a corner, as their organization may not be hiring, nor do they know of any jobs elsewhere. Instead, we recommend saying something like, “In my networking efforts, I would welcome an opportunity to connect/reconnect with you.” It’s a bit softer and the contact will feel that they may get something out of the connection. Remember, networking is a two-way street; you must give to get. Be sure to ask how you may be of assistance to your contact.
If you apply to a job posting, consider doing some research to find out who is the hiring manager. Not HR or Talent Acquisition but the manager to whom the role reports and the person who will ultimately make the hiring decision. Submit your resume through the online portal or via whatever means is provided. Then call the hiring manager. Leave a brief message telling them you are calling about the particular role and have submitted your resume. Still, you want to bring to their attention your experience and skills that directly relate to the job requirements. You may hear nothing back, or the hiring manager may call down to HR to request your resume. You never know.
PS – If you haven’t connected with Ken McGovern on LinkedIn – please do. Start your day off with a good connection!