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Archive for the category “Networking”

Last Post and Launch of

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 6, 2007) - Flight...

Well this is going to be my final post on the twinpillars site. Starting out here from scratch on my first attempt at blogging less than 12 months ago I had no idea how this was going to turn out. It has been both fun and very rewarding.

I know what busy lives you all lead so I feel truly honoured by the steadily growing number of you who take the time to stop by and read my thoughts here.

Thank you!

I now invite you to join me on the new site smartcareerstrategy – launching this weekend

The focus on the new site will be very similar to what you have become accustomed to here. And all the previous posts will still be accessible there so you can read them again at your leisure.

The new site has already gone live so feel free to check it out at smartcareerstrategy

Over time I plan to add new sections with the aim of offering additional resources as well as the blog. I would welcome any suggestions or requests you may have for resources and additional content that you would like to see there. Why not leave a comment with your thoughts on this?


Thanks heaps to those of you who previously signed up to subscribe to twinpillars. I have not yet worked out how to/whether I can simply transfer your subscription details to the new site and I certainly don’t want to breach privacy. It would be wonderful if you would like to go to smartcareerstrategy and subscribe there from now on.


Networking – it’s NOT who you know!

A fresh perspective that may help you to focus your efforts.

No I am not going to tell you to toss out everything you have ever been told about networking in job search, but I want to encourage you to look at networking from a new angle.

Ever found you have been hard at work applying all the things you have heard about how to build a network one person at a time, leverage existing connections to get new introductions etc., etc., but it seems you are just “bouncing around” doing a lot of work for not much return?

All of that guidance is still valid – keep doing it. But here is a way to focus your effort that recent experience confirms is much more likely to produce real opportunities and it is actually very simple. The best things usually are! While getting to know lots of people by building your network is still the core activity, the way you focus this has a huge bearing on what it is likely to deliver.

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you!!

That might sound like a very fine, rather pedantic distinction so let’s look at how it works.

Let’s say you are looking for a role as GM of Finance in a significant sized utility company in City A.

Step 1 – create and research a target list of companies that fit the profile of your preferred potential employer (nothing new there, I hear you say. Dead right!)

Step 2 – Map your network to these companies to see if you already have connections in or to them that you may have overlooked (okay, okay this is still old hat, where’s the new idea?)

Step 3 – the real target of your networking – Who in each of these companies, at a level of substantial influence, knows you well enough to be an advocate for you within their business. They need to know you and your capabilities well enough to be willing to mention your name when the company is facing an issue you could resolve or add value to. When they are feeling pain, who will say you are the person who can fix it?

That’s it. Build the network using the conventional techniques you already know until you can confidently say “I have a willing, influential advocate currently inside every one of my key target employers”.


I am grateful to Chris Bruce for this new angle on an old subject. Chris is an expert executive coach and is also an executive career coaching colleague of mine at Right Management.

Thanks for reading – now let me wish you a safe, blessed Christmas and a successful and prosperous 2013. I hope to share more insights with you in the coming year.

Never cold call when networking

Six degrees of separation.

You shouldn’t need to.
It’s common knowledge that one of the key outcomes of any networking meeting should be referrals and introductions to new contacts. But a lot of people feel uncomfortable asking for this. Check out my previous post on why some people hate networking.

If the conversation has gone really well and been quite specific, a simple “Who else do you think I should be talking to?” will probably be enough. However, I have found that this is often too vague, making it hard for your contact to think of a person to refer you to.

Make it easier for them to come up with a name or two by being more specific about the purpose of the referral that you ask for.

Here are some examples:
1. Share information. Ask who they know who might be interested in or benefit from hearing your perspective on one of the issues you have been discussing; or
2. Pick a topic from the conversation you have been having and ask whether they know someone who may be able to give further insight, information or a different perspective
3. Introduce a topic or angle that was not covered in your meeting and ask if they know someone who might be willing to share their experience as well, or perhaps have a different point of view
As long as you are genuinely interested in what the next person has to offer, these approaches should help you to feel more comfortable asking for a “lead”. You are not asking for a personal recommendation or an introduction with the expectation of a role immediately. You are continuing your research and looking for the next person with whom you can discuss something that is of mutual interest, yet is pertinent to your job search. This will help you to further validate your targets and refine your value proposition and sharpen your resume.

Do lots of this and you will expand your network faster than you realise, you will uncover information and insights that other job-seekers don’t know. This can give you a powerful edge in an interview, and you will position yourself to be ‘top of mind’ when an opportunity opens up.

Show a genuine interest in what others have to say and you will be amazed at what they will share with you, and the new people they will connect you with.

No cold calling
If you are like me you don’t like making ‘cold calls’ to people you don’t know. To ease the pain you can always ask the person giving you the referral to make contact first and check whether their contact is happy to talk to you. So when you call they are expecting it, have already agreed and understand the context. Much, much easier. In fact, more often than not the person referring you will want to do this anyway, so that they can be sure of protecting their relationships in case the new contact doesn’t want to ‘play’.

Golden Rule – it may sound obvious but always ask the referrer if they are happy for you to use their name when you reach out to the person they have referred you to.

Keep the networking chain growing – make it a habit to try to source at least 1 to 2 new referrals from each networking conversation. You won’t always get this but this is what you need to do to keep the network steadily expanding.

Close the loop – apart from the obvious ‘thank-you’ messages, make sure you get back to the referrer with some feedback and an update of how things went when you got in touch with the people they have been generous enough to connect you with. They will be keen to hear and will want to know that you took the referral seriously.

So, start where it feels safe, build your network one person at a time and work on steadily building up the momentum – it gets easier and more comfortable the more you do it.


I hate networking; it’s just not me!

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a client say this in a career transition coaching session…and I really don’t blame them because I certainly felt like that myself for a long time.

3 main reasons people give me for why they hate networking

  1. I don’t want to bother my friends
  2. I feel like a fake. I really just want a job so why must I go through all this?
  3. I’m not an extrovert; it’s totally against my personality

These are all quite legitimate reasons but they are almost all largely founded on a combination of a misunderstanding of what networking really is and, frankly, the fear of rejection.

So let’s come up with a different mindset about these issues

I don’t want to bother my friends

Get over it! If you are in a job search, and especially if the market is tight, you need help. You would help a friend in need wouldn’t you? Well, most people are also more than willing to lend a hand if you approach them in the right way.

I feel like a fake. I really just want a job so why must I go through all this?

First of all if you simply approach people asking if they know about opportunities (roles) you give them little choice about how to help you. Either they do know of something suitable (rare, but you could get lucky), or they don’t (so, not much more to discuss there), or they may do but are not necessarily comfortable being seen to directly recommend you (why put them under this kind of pressure?).

So you need a different reason for connecting – one that you can feel is totally legitimate.

Here are 3 of the best:

  1. Seek their perspective on an organisation you may be targeting – is it a great place to work?
  2. Get advice about aspects of your job search based on their wisdom or experience
  3. Get feedback about the roles you are targeting and whether your value proposition makes sense

Their answers to questions on issues like these will help you to refine your search and adjust your pitch without imposing on them or putting yourself under interview pressure. It also creates a very natural basis for asking for further introductions and referrals – all you are looking for is someone who can offer further insight and information or a different point of view.

I’m not an extrovert; it’s totally against my personality

Join the club! There are lots of us introverts around and our personality can in fact be our greatest strength when networking. Yes we find it awkward reaching out to people we don’t know well. But we are usually good at ask interesting questions and are often better listeners than our extroverted friends. All we are really doing is research to validate our target roles and companies and get feedback on our value proposition, ideally from a potential employer’s point of view. Do enough of this and you will find yourself discovering job opportunities that do not get advertised!

Look out for my next post on how to generate a steady flow of new leads and connections – and I am NOT talking about social media, although that is an area of great importance and should be part of your job search and career management strategy.

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