Episode 184: December 27, 2012
by Lisa B. Marshall
Contacting your broader social network when you’re unemployed can feel like groveling. However, today, networking through social media is an essential part of any job search. (I talk about that in my book, Ace Your Interview.) If you’re unemployed and looking for a job, or you’re employed and thinking of a job change, now is the time to go to start investing in your network. In this Public Speaker case study edition, I’ll discuss Gerard Y., a person in my network who’s really good at connecting through social media. (By the way, in my book, Ace Your Interview, I delve more deeply into this topic.)
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Case Study: Gerard Y., Awesome Networker
In today’s podcast I want to introduce you to someone in my network, Gerard Y. Gerard is particularly skilled at connecting with and deepening the contacts in his social network. I find that often people make the mistake of focusing on collecting followers and friends, instead of implementing strategies to deepen and strengthen the contacts they’ve already got.
Of course, the reason we need to consistently develop and deepen our connections is because eventually, all of us will need to make a withdrawal from our professional network bank account. And if we haven’t invested into it, there won’t be anything to withdraw!
Deepen Your Connections by Investing in Your Network
I first met Gerard through a LinkedIn connection request in September 2007. After we connected, I read his profile and saw that he was giving away free motivational content (at the time, he was employed full time in a traditional marketing job). I was impressed with his focus on others – that made him stand out.
Over time, I saw him helping many people in his network to get connected, offer one-on-one help, and even send resumes of strangers to his very large LinkedIn network. At one point, he needed a resource. So I immediately helped by connecting him with someone in my network. It wasn’t until 3 years later that I realized he lived near me and I invited him to lunch. I was glad we met—he’s one of those extremely upbeat people you’re naturally attracted to. At the time he was still at the same job and continuing to offer support to those that asked him.
The first time I saw him request a favor was in 2011 when he sent a message clearly and plainly stating that he was job searching. My first and only reaction was, “I wonder what I can do to help?” He had given so much to his network, he had invested so much of his time in others, I was confident his extended network would feel the same as me.
So my question for this case study is: “What if you suddenly became unemployed? Have you made significant investments in your network so that if tomorrow you needed to ask for assistance, you would get the help you need? Would the response be an immediate rally of, ‘How can I help? Let me see who I can introduce you to!’”
What Can You Give?
Unfortunately, for most of us, I think that’s not the case. So, if not, what could you begin doing today? What can you freely offer to your network? An article? A video? Answers to technical and professional questions? Informational interviews? Decide today what might be of value and begin offering your help right away.
Then, when it’s time for you to reach out to your network for help—possibly when you’re looking for a new job – you can again follow in Gerard’s footsteps. Here’s a message he sent out recently.
“Hello, please forgive the non-personalization of this email. I’m trying to reach as many of my Greater Philadelphia Area connections as possible in the shortest timeframe.
I was in Philadelphia yesterday to watch may daughter run the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (I’m hoping to run next year) and could not help but think ‘There has got to be a great company here in the city looking for a marketing leader!’ So yes, I’m still looking for my next marketing employment opportunity and to be honest, I’ve had way too many interviews for jobs which are all across the country and Canada. I’ve had some great opportunities presented to me, but my desire is to stay local. So I’m looking to lean on my Greater Philadelphia Area network, to give me a boost and assist me in networking into a great new opportunity. You can download a copy of my resume here.
Everyone is a potential lead, so I appreciate your efforts in advance. As always, I am here to help you as well in any way possible.”
So what can we learn from Gerard and this message?
Lessons From Gerard Y.
Invest early and often in your network.
When Gerard became unemployed, he explained his situation clearly. He didn't try to hide that he no longer was employed or make excuses. He updated his profile and let everyone know.
He didn’t just send one message. He sent out updates, like the message above and the updates were personal and included stories. He apologized for sending an impersonal letter, and then explained why that had to be done. Then he told his compelling story. Nicely done.
Even though this was an impersonal letter, Gerard made it feel personal by including the story about his daughter, and focusing on his desire to stay in Philadelphia. Since he sent it to his local contacts here in the city, we could all relate to not wanting to leave.
As a member of Gerard’s network, this letter moved me and made me want to help him. Because of the investments he made on behalf of others, I was happy to receive it and glad to have a chance to help.
If you’d like to know more about deepening and strengthening your professionals connection, I cover that topic in depth in my new book, Smart Talk, which is available online, at your favorite retailer, and wherever books are sold January 22, 2013.
This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.
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