I was visiting with a client recently, and it struck me that with all of the hype around the various new technologies, it is amazingly easy to lose sight of the importance of old fashioned networking. Truth be told, the most important part of your job search hasn’t changed in my lifetime. Who your friends are was the key in 1947 and 1957 and 1967 and 1987 … and it is still true today. I understand that many of us get frustrated by this, but it is what it is. Complaining about it is like complaining about how our calendar works. Pretty simple to do and a total waste of time. On the other hand…. If we embrace it….
The key to all of our relationships is not new and it is not a surprise. Your Grandma told you this and your momma told you this and so did your Kindergarten teacher. Pay it Forward AND ask for help.
“Paying it forward” is simply helping our friends when they need it, then “asking for help” is giving them the chance to do the same.
The hard part is getting their imaginations involved.
I’m going to assume that you have been a good friend over time, you have helped them when you could and even gone out of the way a couple times, so they really are predisposed to help. Now what? You sat down with them, they’ve given you the update, you gave them the update. They ask for a resume and you dutifully send them one…. Then nothing happens. What didn’t happen?
You failed to capture their imagination.
Capturing someone’s imagination is done with specifics that work as generics. For example, if you live in Seattle, then you know that the Fremont Neighborhood has a very specific vibe. It has offices for Google and Adobe, Brooks Sports and Tableau Software. I also has a huge sculpture Troll under one of it’s bridges, a rescued 20 foot tall sculpture of Lenin and is on a an inner city lake. When you tell someone that you are interested in working in that neighborhood, it creates a visual image. It tells me a great deal about you and what you are looking for. Downtown Seattle is dramatically different. Instead of jeans and fleece, we see suits and skirts, so again, it’s a visual image of what you think of as a successful environment.
Knowing what interests you in companies can do the same thing. Brooks and Tableau seem to be very similar culturally, so saying one might generate questions about the other. Boeing will trigger several other companies based on culture. There are also very specific mechanical things going on that can help your friends visualize how to help.
All of these specifics make it much easier for you to visualize similar companies. When you identify your sweet spot, you will be able to identify similar companies fairly easily. Dunn & Bradstreet (for example) at least lets you put all of this stuff in as search qualifiers. It also stimulates your audience.
So who do you want to work for? Say the name; tell your friends; it will make it much easier for your friends to help.