May 5 2011
On the Ivy Exec Blog, career professional Brad Agry answers questions posed by executive job seekers. This week he discusses how to find a balance in your networking and challenges you to expand your network!
Q: Is it possible to over-expose oneself as part of networking? How does one avoid that and how do we find a balance between networking and always asking for favors if down the road we are again asking many of the same ex-coworkers, colleagues, friends and contacts for help finding work?
A: There is without a doubt the danger of an irritation factor if we continually ask people for help in a one-sided kind of “taking” way. Remember that good networking is about forming relationships and not just about “asking”. Remember that these same people may at some point be in your shoes so make sure to ask with intentionality if there are ways you can help them as well.
A good rule of thumb is to ask permission to stay in touch with people you have met periodically. Let them be the ones to determine how often that might be. Certainly, if you have initially met someone for informational interviews and your objectives or targets have changed there is nothing wrong with touching base again. Make it more about an update as to how your strategy has changed rather than an expectation that they will produce a job for you.
I would add quite provocatively (as coaches are meant to do!) that if you find yourself continually going back to the same “well” for entrees and leads that you are not properly expanding and replenishing your universe with fresh individuals to help you in your job search. You may want to examine your ability to generate what I call “a series of referred leads” from the people you already know. It may take some digging but trust me if you want to get into a particular organization badly enough there is always someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help you get the ball rolling.
And in closing…a wonderful phrase to try that works like a charm at the end of a networking meeting: “Joe you have been so generous with your time…is there anyone else you can think of that I should be speaking with?”
Q: I am an immigration lawyer and specialist in Toronto. I am looking to make a significant career change by moving from government into the private sector. Where and how do I start networking with other senior lawyers who work in the same field in large law firms?
B: I would start by defining your target universe specifically –how big are the firms that you would like to get into? I would then actually compile a list of where you would like to get some interviews-There are a number of sources in the States for research–not sure if there is a Canadian version/equivalent but one to look at that lists law firms is Martindale-Hubbell.–you can also try doing some Internet searches by city or cities. Then connect through everyone you know to get some informal informational interviews at these places-Remember, everyone can be of help–even if they are not lawyers themselves they probably know through second or third connections those that are–Position yourself in these meetings as wanting to find out more about what it takes for someone like yourself to make such a transition from the governmental to private side–The focus should be on establishing rapport with your contact and if all goes well getting other new contacts to connect with. Done correctly, your performance in these appointments will let people see you as a qualified candidate should appropriate positions arise (many which may not even be advertised publicly ) but they are not being pressured to produce a job for you on the spot.
The article was originally published here.
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