1. Linkedin.com Inroads: Linkedin.com is a great resource for networking with other professionals within your in-dustry. You can make connections with thousands of individuals that you can ask for advice from and network with. Most people who join the website want to move forward with their careers or they would not take the time to try networking online. Use this website to find professionals within a company you want to work at, identify potential new employees, and propose new partnerships. Linkedin.com is free and backed by a leading technology venture capitalist firm, Sequoia Capital. To join my network, send me an email at Richard@RichardCWilson.com.
2. Easy Email Access Many people are hard to reach. This is not an accident. They are often busy or would simply receive too many sales pitches or spam emails if they are contact information was open to the whole world. 95% of all email addresses within established corporations use standard email formatting. For exam-ple if you worked at Widgets, Inc., your email address might be Richard.Wilson@Widgets.com and your co-workers email addresses might read Mark.Helmick@Widgets.com and Chris.Hege@Widgets.com. Every personal email ad-dress within the company is probably formatted so they read FirstName.LastName@Widgets.com. Remember, email addresses are not the same across companies, just usually within a single company. This turns your quest of contacting your targeted professional into a much easier game. Visit their “About Us” “Contact Us” or “Customer Service” web pages online. One of these areas usually includes somebody’s personal email address, which will reveal the formatting across the entire company. If you do not have any luck finding an email address try sending a short note to their customer service department and wait for a response that will usually come directly from an individual with a standard email address.
Although most people wont mind you doing this, or even ask how you got their email address, you should be cognizant that some people might react negatively to being “bothered” by someone they do not know. Many people have told me that they admire that kind of intelli-gence and tenacity in trying to get things done. Keep your message very brief and to the point, and keep it as professional as possible. This tactic will help you gain access to people that others would give up on after checking a website or trying to call a few times. The point of emailing someone that has not provided you with their contact information is not to pester or sell the contact on something they have not shown interest in. This tool should be used to network and suggest a meeting for coffee or discussion of an idea over the phone that might benefit both parties.
3.Informational interviews: Informational interviews are meetings usually initiated by a professional looking to learn more about an industry, company, or potential set of positions. It is a meeting where the goal is to edu-cate someone and establish a relationship. Infor-mational interviews can be a great way to get your foot in the door at a new organization or learn about poten-tial positions that are not open to the public. Many in-formational interviews lead to company tours, resume forwarding, and employment offerings. While being careful not to mistake this informational interview for a formal interview, creating a strong rapport with your contact and really selling yourself can create an inside “champion” of your skills and abilities. I have conducted over 30 informational interviews and I have only been turned down about 5 times out of about 35 requests that I made over the phone or in person. I was paid more when I graduated from high school then my teachers and the same as my college professors when I gradu-ated from college and both of these jobs came from conducting informational interviews. They work.
4. Resume buffing: Your resume is an extension of your-self. Until a company has gotten to know you well, it is you on paper. While most reports and documents should not be passed on to others without going through five drafts, resumes should be reviewed 20 times before, being forwarded to a potential employer. It should not exceed one page in length, so the time to review it each time should not be too bad. If you have never done this before pass your resume around to a few close professionals that you trust and have them help you. Make sure that your resume is unique, action word packed, and professional, stating real accom-plishments and testimonials from past supervisors, peers, or professors. What could you do to improve your real skill sets while improving your resume? Toastmasters? Publications? Networking? Association Memberships? Ask what hiring managers care about and work on acquiring those experiences.
5.Persistence: The importance of persistence in network-ing cannot be overstated. Start making it your goal to have lunch, coffee, or an informational interview over the phone at least once a week within a professional in your industry. Some people will answer on your first phone call and give you any information you need, while others will take months to track down. Never take any of their responses personally. My father always said “no response means nothing.” Try to understand their point of view and learn from the situation for your next networking initiative. While networking, you will run into all types of people and learn how to read each unique individual and adjust your approach accordingly. If you leave a voicemail on Monday, follow up with an email, and wait 4-6 business days before leaving a second one. If you network enough, you will gain a very sensi-tive feel for how much persistence is helpful without be-ing so pushy that others do not want to take the time to help you.
6.Website: Create a website that describes your experi-ence, education, and any relevant professional publica-tions. I have found it very useful to have my resume downloadable directly from the website in Microsoft Word format. This enables you to be “Googled” and lets you give people your web address over the phone or on a business card. For an example of this type of a website visit http://www.RichardCWilson.com.
7.Presentations: Your ability to effectively communicate ideas, create PowerPoint presentations, and give speeches will greatly help build your personal image and career. No matter how early or far you are in your career, it can be built stronger by improving your speaking skills. Join a local toastmasters club, or start speaking at local schools and associations. The best part about presenting information is that it turns you into a source of value and brings people to you.
8. Publish: Publishing articles, books, newsletters, columns, and websites are other ways you can become a valuable resource to others. If you don’t think you can write well enough to publish anything professionally, start writing your first piece today and have a friend or peer at work help you edit the work.