LegalJob met with a job candidate recently who demonstrated effective networking. She was not pursuing a legal job (for now), but her approach should be helpful to all job seekers. Details are provided below.
Facts: She was interested in working at a non-profit which did not have any openings posted. She talked to various people to determine the objectives of the organization, how she could be help the entity meet those objectives, and who she should contact to pursue this interest. She was given a couple of names of people to contact, including people on the board of this organization. She found out about a reception the non-profit was hosting and she crashed the party. She made use of every minute at the party by skipping the food and drinks at cocktail hour and walking straight up to board members and other influential people at the company and making her case for why (and how) she would be effective at the company. She obtained several business cards, including those of decision makers at the company. She followed up the next day by express regular mail with her materials and her short but effective cover letter making her case. She was asked to interview with the company within one week. At the time of this posting it is not known whether she had her interview.
Take away points
- She did not limit herself to job postings. If you are interested in working at a company, do not wait for the perfect job opportunity to come to you (by way of a posting). Instead, create your own opportunity by demonstrating how your skill set can help the company NOW.
- She performed substantive research on the company by asking relevant people about the company's objectives and she took the time to consider how she could help contribute to those objectives. She did not limit herself to the Internet or other generic research tool. Most important, she understood that the point is to be able to persuade how her skills could benefit the company's current needs and objectives as opposed to the notion that the company should hire her because she has x, y, z skills that may or may not benefit the company.
- She put herself in the right place at the right time by going to the reception. She did not wait for a special invitation to make her case. She took a chance that she would be able to get into the reception and followed through.
- At the reception, she made good use of her time. She was focused and on purpose and was able to connect with decision makers at the company as well as others who likely talked about her to these decision makers.
- She had a script that was based on how she could be effective at pursuing the company's current goals.
- She followed up after the face-to-face meeting to further make her case.
- She put some time and thought into the follow up by writing a letter and sending in the mail like the old days rather than shooting off a quick e-mail.
- Folks may be wondering, "yeah but did she get the job?" That is not the point. Even if all of these steps did not lead to that job, they will lead to a job and are worth doing.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net