How do I find a new job? (3):

Key people in a networked crowd.The second part of this series finished with two questions designed to get you to think about your unique selling proposition (USP). Knowing your USP is important in the sales process. What is it that differentiates you from your competition?

You will only receive a job offer, if you can convince an employer that they should buy the product ‘You’. So what makes you special?

Yes, it really is a sales process and a successful sale is made only when a customer’s need is matched perfectly with a product which fulfils that need. In fact the product must be the solution to a problem.

A good salesman or woman is not trying to trick the customer into buying something regardless of need. The sales professional wants the customer to be completely satisfied with their purchase. Not just at the time of the sale but later on too.

In this case the customer is the employer and if you are to sell the product ‘You’ to that employer, and if they are to be completely satisfied, then you must be the perfect solution to their problem.

And you will be a perfect solution for them if you have the skills to do the job; you have the motivation to do the job well; and you fit in well with their team.

That said you can’t sell anything if the customer is not aware of your product. Equally you need to know your potential customers and have an understanding of their needs.

To address these issues requires a process of communication, often referred to as networking.

You could just wait until you see the right vacancy advertised and then make a suitable application, along with hundreds of other people. If you do see a vacancy advertised then that’s great but if you really want to be successful you need to be proactive. You need to put yourself about a bit and start talking to people. And that requires you to do some networking.

However before you can start networking, there is one final piece of preparation required. Like every sales professional you will need a sales pitch. In job-search terms this is sometimes referred to as an elevator statement.

Tip 7: Preparing your Elevator Statement

An elevator statement is a memorable teaser statement designed to grab someone’s attention or at least spark their curiosity to the point where they would want to know a bit more about what it is that you have to offer.

It is a concise statement which encapsulates your USP and which can be delivered in no more than 30 seconds, i.e. the time you might spend with someone in an elevator travelling between floors.

The elevator statement defines the product ‘You’. That is, who you are; what you do; and what makes you special. No waffle just the meat.

Your elevator statement has got to make an impression on people, so make sure you spend some time getting it right. And try it out on friends and colleagues. If they’re not impressed then it’s unlikely that anyone else will be either.

Once you’re happy with the content, memorize the statement and practice delivery. If you’re going to impress people then you’ve got to have an act. Your delivery has got to be slick and professional.

When your preparation is complete and you have your sales pitch ready to go, then it’s time now to start talking to people and increase your visibility.

Tip 8: Research, visibility and the art of networking

The misconception about networking is that people often think that it’s all about phoning people you know and asking whether they can help you find a job.

It’s not! If you try that approach it won’t get you very far I can assure you.

Take the wrong approach to networking and you’re likely to find that even your closest friends and associates will be too busy to meet with you.

If people feel that they might be under some obligation or that you have expectations of them they cannot meet, then they’re likely to feel too uncomfortable to get involved. If they have no obvious way of helping you find a job, they’ll think, ‘Why meet?’

You’re approach will need to be a bit more subtle. Don’t be afraid to network with people but it will help you if you think about it in two ways, as follows:-

Networking is all about research: To spot opportunities you must understand the issues and problems affecting a company or an industry or sector. To understand where any gaps might be you have to do some research. That means engaging with senior executives and professionals and asking them their opinions about the problems and issues affecting their companies and/or their industry. From their responses hopefully you will begin to see where opportunities might be and how you might be a solution to a problem.

Networking is all about visibility: Ability serves no purpose without visibility. You have to promote the product ‘You’ and increase your profile with senior executives and professionals. Ensure that people know all about who you are and what you have to offer. Your aim must be to socialize with the widest possible audience, extending the circle of people to whom you are known within the industry. Ideally you need to be seen as an expert or someone with knowhow. And you need to make a good impression.

Whether you’re in research-mode or increasing-your-visibility-mode the trick is the same. Through people you know, you have to get introductions and referrals to people you don’t know but who you would like to know or who might just prove useful to you, if you did know them. And remember; you never know who knows whom, until you ask.

Start by making a list of everyone you know within your sector, including people you don’t know quite so well. This is your starting point for setting up networking meetings.

Now let’s think about how you get that networking meeting?

Tip 9: Get that networking meeting

In requesting a networking meeting with anyone, always be very clear with them, you are not expecting a job or any advice as to where you might find one.

When you call someone you know to request a meeting, frame the conversation around ‘could they possibly spare five minutes to give you their opinion?’ We all like to think our opinion matters, so people tend to be flattered with that approach. Suggest a meeting over coffee or lunch, your treat, and they’ll be even more inclined to agree.

When you meet, simply ask them to tell you about any problems in the sector as they see it and where they think any gaps might be. Ask them about their companies too. Say you are curious to know where any ‘pain points’ might be. At the end of the meeting, ask whether they can suggest anyone else with whom you should also meet to broaden your understanding of current issues within the sector.

If they suggest names, ask whether they’d be able to facilitate an introduction. Alternatively ask whether it would be acceptable to them if you mention their name in any correspondence.

Before you leave the meeting, be sure to ask whether there is anything that you can do that might be of help them. And be sure to say thank you and keep in touch with them. It’s not a good idea to leave people with the idea that they have simply been used. Remember to give as well as take.

Believe me this approach does work. Certainly it has worked for me.

However you do need to ensure that you’ve done your homework properly before you meet with anyone, particularly any industry heavyweights. That will better position you for a meaningful conversation with them.

If someone does tell you all about a problem which is keeping them awake at night, then you have to think about whether potentially you might be a solution. Alternatively, if you’re not the solution, do you know someone else who could be? Even just giving someone a little help can cement a relationship which might pay dividends later.

Either way, you must always be ready with your sales pitch. Don’t be bashful, when you see an opportunity you must strike. Every winner has a ruthless streak. Remember; if you don’t look after your own interests, no one else will.

The focus here has been on networking. However in job search there are other routes to market and I will expand on those in the next part of this series.

Essentially there are five routes into the job market; can you name all five?

© Roy Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Related articles:-

How do I find a new job? (1)

How do I find a new job? (2)

What job can I do?

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