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NETWORKING: SYNERGY & SERENDIPITY
You may reach a point in your Informational Interviewing
when you have defined your goals and interviewed knowledgeable people
in your chosen field, but you have not yet obtained a job. What
you need are more contacts, that is, people who know people
who may have a job for you.
Techniques that use personal contacts are the
most successful. Studies at Harvard University by sociologist Mark
Granovetter examined professionals who successfully changed jobs.
Three-fourths of the successful job seekers obtained their employment
through their own initiative and personal solicitations to potential
employers. (For comparison, the "standard" methods, such
as use of ads, employment agencies and recruiters, and "others"
accounted for less than ten percent each of total successful job
landings. U.S. Department of Labor and other studies confirm and
elaborate these findings. The successful "personal contact"
methods include those described in this Workbook.)
Here are the most common methods by which employers
find employees in order of priority and success:
contacts, employee referrals, networking
Internal job postings
Search firms, employment agencies
Check callback files
Here are the ways most people search for jobs:
Applications at personnel departments
Recruiters, headhunters, agencies
High school/college placement
Informational Interviews can lead you to jobs because
the people that you meet provide a network of relationships to
other people, whose network of relationships may include a person
who has a job for you. Research shows that you are about three
to five people away from the person you want to meet who is a
key to your next job opportunity. For example, you may not realize
that your own contacts or circle of acquaintances may include
at least two hundred individuals. If each contact knows two hundred
others, each of whom knows two hundred more, your "contact
pool" is a combined network of about eight million individuals.
will therefore need to prioritize your potential contacts into the
following three categories:
1. AA or Primary Contacts: AA contacts are
your current network of family, friends, and colleagues--people
with whom you already have a relationship and from whom you probably
already have received referrals for Informational Interviews.
2. AB or Bridge Contacts: AB contacts
are people who can provide you with information on the industry
you are researching. They are likely to be experts in their fields,
and have networks of their own. AB contacts may not have the authority
to hire you, but they have industry knowledge you need, and they
can give you valuable advice and feedback. They can refer you
to other AB contacts, or in some cases, can lead you to the decision-makers
who can hire you for existing openings, or who can create or tailor
3. AC or Target Contacts: AC contacts
are the individuals in an organization with the authority to make
you a job offer, or at least, are close to those in decision-making
roles. Once you have identified the field or industry that is
right for you (will let you use your skills and interests; reflects
your values; supports your long-term goals), you will want to
identify specific AC targets within the specific organizations
for which you want to work. As you become more comfortable in
Informational Interviews, you will be able to refine and focus
upon your discussions so as to get referrals for Networking Interviews.
Networking and Informational Interviews are
similar in that both provide useful information and are a way
to expand you circle of contacts. A Networking Interview (
unlike a Job Interview ) is, however, more clearly aimed at providing
you with access to appropriate targets, people that your contact
knows. Try to locate Gate Keepers--people who can offer you
multiple referrals related to your job objective.
It is a big mistake to ask for an Informational
Interviewing and attempt to convert it into a Job Interview .Never misrepresent yourself this way.
Try to elicit as much active assistance as possible
from your contact. The best possible outcome occurs if your contact
sets up the meeting with the target and attends. Almost as helpful:the
contact calls to set up the meeting; or the contact writes a letter,
perhaps encloses your resume and recommends meeting you. It is
certainly still very useful to you if the contacts allow you to
use their name.
In planning the Networking Interview, consider
the following points (suggested by career consultant David Rottman).
(1) Focus on outcomes.
What do you want to know?
What do you want to reveal?
Avoid vague or hidden expectations.
The final outcome of each meeting - help in the referral
process to increase the scope of our relationship network - must
be specifically asked for.
Questions that are too specific or too general are likely to break
the rapport in a Networking Interview.
Stay away from broad, naive, innocent queries at one extreme -
and prying, confidential, proprietary, highly-specific queries at the
Virtually any career obstacle, or disadvantage you possess, can
be turned into an advantage by proper relationship networking.
You can find targets who share your disadvantage.
You can exploit your obstacle by seeking advice from a target
who has already made successful - but difficult - transitions into
your field of interest.
You can conduct your network campaign in a
"wide-angle" mode, by asking those you already know for any
referrals in a particular geographic area or industry.
Or, you can network in a closed-end or "telephoto"
mode, by finding out who would know the important person
you need to meet. For
example, if you wanted to meet the president of a company, you might
scrutinize a list of his board of directors, staff, related
professionals the firm does business with, and the firm's clients or
customers to discover names that friends of yours might know.
Practice your Networking skills in low-stress situations, and
develop your own style before doing an Interview that counts.
You must be able to explain your background very briefly - with
confidence and poise - and then ask where you can best be utilized.
Use the Networking process to form a bridge into the job
interview process. You may
ask, "What kind of people, what sort of personality, does your
organization look for when staffing up?"
relationship network resembles a spider's web: touch one part of the
web and the rest reverberates; push a little too hard, and the web
Social Intelligence, Emotional Competence
with high social intelligence are enormously qualified for life,
said Howard Gardner, a psychologist at the Graduate School of
Education at Harvard University. Dr.
1983 book A Frames of Mind(Basic
Books), in which he proposed that there are several other important
kinds of intelligence beyond abilities for math or language, has been
highly influential in the new appreciation of social intelligence, or
what has been called A emotional competence.
intelligence, Dr. Gardner said, allows people to take maximum
advantage of the resources of others.
finding that much of people'seffective
intelligence is, in a sense, outside the brain,
Dr. Gardner said.Your
intelligence can be within other people, if you know how to get them to
help you. In life, that's
the best strategy: mobilize other people.
you have social intelligence, you know that this only works if
some kind of mutuality. If it's all one way, people will end up feeling you've
professional contacts is an exchange of information, a social,
a form of learned behavior.
is impossible to learn to play the violin, to learn to swim or to
dance, by merely reading a book.These
skills -- like contact or informational interviewing, professional
networking, contact development, job interviewing, salary negotiation
-- all require practice, practice, and more practice.
This is the same answer the Jewish grandmother gave to the
stranger who asked her, Can
you give me directions to get to Carnegie Hall?
You cannot learn all of the skills needed to find work in a social
universe or community of employers by simply reading this or any other
printed matter.You must
be out there getting interviews (and even getting rejected) for these methods
to work.It is the
difference between theory and experiment. Let me say this in another way: If you wish to create children,
fine to study Freud; but eventually you have to make serious,
practical contact with the opposite sex.
is an improvable skill, a learnable art, like emotional
which has such very high survival value in the marketplace that Daniel
Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, 1995, Bantam Books, NY) calls
to those who are reluctant to call or write to strangers, to ask for
advice, it is important to overcome your resistance. It may be useful to remember: Imperfect
movement is better than perfect paralysis.
the Telephone to Get Face to Face Meetings
bring order and organization to our lives.
Yet they change the nature of how you communicate and exercise
your social intelligence, and how you mobilize
for networking purposes, if you are very shy, it probably makes sense to
(1) write, (2) call, and (3) visit a target in that order.
create an honest (low-pitched voice, speaking slowly) and intelligent
(speaking fast) impression on others, your wisest policy is to present
your truest and best natural self in any interview.
you see how you present yourself in an interview on video-tape, you can
make an objective analysis of how you are seen by others.
This is a major benefit of video-tape feedback in preparation and
coaching for information-, networking- and job-interviews.
It helps to have such rehearsals or practice sessions immediately
prior to the interview. It
also helps if your practice coach
asks tough, even hostile, questions. This helps you make your mistakes
in a practice setting which does not hurt your job-search.
Since everyone will make mistakes in the art of networking, it
helps a great deal if you make all your mistakes as quickly as possible.