NEW LOCATION, New Topic…

Moving forward we will meet at…broken egg logo

This, our new “homeport,” is located one block west of the Tollway (Gibbons), on the south side of Frankford Road.  THIS week, Thursday, November 21st…


Being Prepared For Networking During The HO-Ho-holidaze ahead:  A look at the realities of networking during the Holiday season ahead


A Good ScoutNETWORKING: A Career Strategy  We network effectively in our daily life to find trusted auto mechanics, the best doctors, the least expensive grocery store—we ask our neighbors, our friends, our co-workers… THAT is networking!  And what makes it work for us is the interaction involved, we are communicating with others in its most basic form.

So why panic and freeze during career transition?  Simply begin where ever you find yourself right now… and build from there for the rest of your career.  And the holidays ahead present a great starting point.

Technology is your friend, here.  Technology is the best way to leverage the time that you have available for productive and efficient networking.  Technology provides you the tools; but remember, technology is not a replacement for your #1 task… it is up to you to identify and develop those relationships that will get you the results you seek… for the rest of your career.  Remember…

Networking is a contact sport! 

WHERE To Start

 As a contact sport, networking is about interaction between sender and receiver, buyer and seller… job seeker and potential employers.  The great news is that you get to start from YOUR ‘sweet spot’ or middle ground where all this interaction occurs the easiest!  You start with people that you already know or have some connection to.

If your ‘natural network’ doesn’t have a regular meeting—most do not, by their very diverse nature—groups of like minded people are easy to identify and attend.  As you begin to reach out and broaden your ‘sweet spot,’ be selective in your attempt to create a supportive ‘community’ grouping close to your targeted marketplace.

Networking within your targeted marketplace, your unique, job search ‘community’ should play a critical role in your Personal Marketing strategies. It is an easy means to getting the word out about your business to people who may purchase and influence others to purchase your service or goods.

But just as with any other job search activity, we get what we put into it. That being said, local networking events are seeing record turnouts lately, a sign that leads us to believe the networking is paying off.  A Local Networking Group is any organization, which meets on a regular basis, to share and receive referrals and leads.

Examples of formal Local Networking groups for small and medium sized business include: BNI (Business Networking International), Merchants’ Associations, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Associations.

Some of the largest local organizations devoted to supporting job seeker efforts are Career Connections, Frisco Connect, Cathedral of Hope, the Southlake Group, Watermark Church… to name just a few.

Many are associated with church support organizations… but are completely non-denominational in their approach, operation and outreach.

WHAT to Start With

If you have a huge personal contact network to start with… great!  Start by prioritizing your list into three sub categories…

Seasoned networkers with terrific phone and interview skills will undoubtedly start their networking efforts at the “B” and “SEE” list levels… but for the ‘normal’ job seeker this represents pre-mature activity.  Use the earlier preparation steps, practice time, and your first several ‘baby steps’ to develop your effectiveness BEFORE having to perform for your best contacts.

“Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.”

Further, try to avoid the temptation to respond to your sense of urgency in securing your next employment, with lack of adequate preparation and planning—the first seven steps—don’t be guilty of…

“Ready… FIRE Aim”

It is as easy as a-b-c…

  1. Develop your networking prowess with your “A” List contacts
  2. Exercise and practice your newfound skills within the job search support, local networking groups…beginning to reach toward a bigger “B” list
  3. Fold-in professional associations and trade groups as a way to strengthen and accelerate the development of your “B” list

“See” list contacts WILL happen!

Peculiarities of Local Networking Events

As mention previously… BE SELECTIVE, honoring your own personality and needs. Although they are essentially in place to accomplish the same result, the local networking groups can be quite different.  When selecting a group or several groups it’s best to “lurk before you leap” into actually joining.  Each tends to have their own unique culture and ‘personality.’

BNI has very specific rules for joining their organization, including a yearly fee, a one-industry-per-chapter rule, and a requirement that you attend every week (with a two week exception every few months).

Some networking events or organizations will charge a fee, while others do not. There are also groups designed to serve the needs and interests of specific segments of business owners such as women, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Many local networking attendees always seem to prefer to attend the largest networking events in order to get in front of more people, however, keep in mind the number attending is inversely proportionate to the amount of time one has to explain who they are to the group.

Each organization has its own method for increasing attendees awareness of the participants business. Some section off attendees into groups to play team building games that will enable them to remember each other’s business. As a job seeker, your thirty second ‘elevator pitch’ must be mastered and done conversationally well.

 Tips for Attending Local Networking Events…

Before you even think of attending, have your ‘verbal collateral’ nailed down and perfect (15 and 30 second elevator pitches, including a qualification statement, as well as longer ‘commercials’ in answer to, “Tell Me About Yourself” queries). Depending on the size of the group, most Local Networking groups will give 15 to 60 seconds to all attendees to give their elevator pitch.

Don’t forget your business cards. Every local marketing group will ask you for at least one business card. Some will make copies of all business cards and pass it out to the general audience of attendees. When people hear your elevator pitch, they will often refer to this list of business cards to find out more about you, write down your number, etc.

Show up early and work the room.  It is good to have your own name badge that carries a positioning statement.  A lot of networking occurs prior to the event start time. People do business with (and refer business to) those who make them feel comfortable. You don’t have to be a salesman, just genuine.

Regardless if you’re normally an introvert, during this time you must force yourself to be eager to “grip and grin.”  It may feel awkward at first, but you must force yourself to stand next to two people talking, if only to introduce yourself to them.

Above all, remember that you’re in it for the long haul, the rest of your career.  Just as bloggers must realize that they need to provide daily attention to their blogs, so must local networkers understand the need to attend as frequently as the networking events are offered. Attending a weekly event once a month is a lot like a weight lifter who works out once a month – he’s just going to make himself sore.

Remember, you’re not attending the events just to sell your products or services to the other attendees, although that occurs occasionally; rather you’re there to influence them – to make them feel comfortable enough to pass on your information to their customer bases and circles of influence.

Once you start attending, you’ll find that the relationships, and even friendships, you’ve established will make you think of these people first when your customers have a need for someone in their fields.  Be a “TOP GUN” Networker, assisting others to be making contacts while you are developing your network.

BABY STEPS Revisited

Be your own best coach… pay homage to the five hundred pound gorillas in the room, TECHNOLOGY, specifically social media… and your own communication preferences, even the most passive communicators must learn to engage and interact… but with whom?

Use your FREE LinkedIn account to organize your contact list and to function like a road map of who to network to next.  Once identified, get on the phone and meet your newest “A” list contact.  You’ll never know when a ‘hidden gem’ of a “B” or “See” list contact will materialize in the process.

Please take note…

URGENT… Take Note…. Renovation is still in process, but our ‘normal’ room IS available at The Egg and I Restaurant.

We WILL BE MEETING this Thursday, Oct 24th, at our regular location, but it looks and feels quite different… We’ll be discussing networking your way IN to a target organization, so you won’t want to miss this session… and bring an unemployed, job seeking friend… this will be a great session for newbies and tire-kickers!

QUESTION OF THE DAY:  How do you “TARGET” an organization?  

So, Who DO You Listen To?

AjustDaSailsThe “challenging waters” of career transition, specifically a lengthy period of un-employment during a typical job search campaign, can be quite stressful. And part of that stress is the constant fear that you may have positioned yourself for something that’s just not available in the marketplace.

When is it time to give up on, or change your approach, to a desired result? When do you stop pursuing a desired career outcome? When do you walk away from a negotiation or quit trying to make a relationship work?

Do you give up when you get frustrated? Or when you’ve tried everything you know to try? Or when a better option becomes available?

How do you know when your persistence goes from an asset to a liability?


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, October 17… Implementing Your PMP:  Bob leads a discussion of coaching YOURSELF to greater performance, a “wave theory.”


Pilot Onboard

Many people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions. THE Careerpilot believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.

Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?

First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice. TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!

Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!  If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue.

Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.

Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

Persistence leads to many successes but at some point, can serve to point you in a different direction. Persistently pursuing a specific job search objective, in the face of resistance, lack of opportunity, or competition, can be a waste of time and money. You can miss many alternative opportunities while tirelessly investing energy into a dead-end approach or new relationship.

Never prematurely equate re-positioning your efforts with broader changes in your Personal Marketing Plan. Market conditions can be very dynamic… those “challenging waters” may call for a change in course.

Knowing when to stay the course, change course, or quit isn’t easy. Knowing when ‘enough is enough’ isn’t always clear. The best strategy isn’t always certain even after the dust has settled on a situation and time has gone by. Hence regrets remain for many people who tried for too long as well as for those who gave up too early.

To help you when deciding whether to continue, stop, or redirect your resources, ask yourself “Did you …..
• Truly give it your best? Did you perform your best and to a level of excellence defined by most objective standards?
• Try every reasonable approach or tactic that fit within your chosen strategy or Personal Marketing Plan?
• Give it sufficient time? Did you practice patience and allocate enough time for your efforts to be recognized, evaluated, and acted upon?
• Consult with people qualified to give you advice? Did you seek wise counsel from people willing to challenge your thinking rather than merely talking to people who validated your thinking?
• Manage the other realities in your life? Did you think objectively rather than rely on your instinct replete with its subjectivity? Did you cave in to emotion or unsubstantiated financial pressures?
• Look in the mirror? Did you take your share of responsibility for the issue? Do you have a Plan, and did you identify and correct the areas you had control over that contributed to the impasse… so you aren’t merely running from yourself?
• Use rational thinking as well as your feelings? Did you follow both your mind and your heart? Did you evaluate the facts and statistics as well as the impact on people?
• Consider the unique nuances of your particular situation… rather than blindly follow accepted norms?

If you can’t honestly and objectively answer “yes” to these questions, take action on those topics you can’t. If you can answer yes, consider it time to redirect your resources. You may be in a hole that is only getting deeper with time.

You may be wasting your energy and money. Your persistence may be at the point of foolishness. Change your strategy, tactics, or approach. Or pursue your better alternative.

Your Digital “Footprint”

chalk1Networking is a primary means of finding and landing  that next position. Social Media is an internet phenomenon that has become a very important tool for job seekers to use in their networking efforts. It is an extraordinary method for self-marketing. In fact, I like to call it your “GPS for Efficient Networking Activity.”

CAUTION:  USE TECHNOLOGY to save time and access information, but NEVER allow technology to replace person-to-person networking and relationship building.

NETWORKING is a (very personal) contact sport!


NEXT Session is Thursday, October 10thA LinkedIn Overview with guest presenter, our own Jim Parker


bob-maher-4587-editThe “top three” social media sites for job search are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  There are many others.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is the most used social media site for business and professionals. Thus, it is an excellent site for job-search purposes. Recruiters and the more sophisticated companies use LinkedIn to source potential candidates for their open positions.

LinkedIn is like a multi-faceted “diamond” for networkers.  In fact, it might be helpful to see the multiple functionalities of LinkedIn in three “tasks.”  Your TASK#1 Is to have an account and create a high impact Profile that is in sync with your resume.

Already you need to make an important decision.

Will you be using LinkedIn to PUSH your message outward, creating visibility for you availability?… or using LinkedIn to PULL people to your KEYWORDS?

… or, my favorite, using both approaches together…  Here’s an example of what I mean… A Headline and SUMMARY that allows you the best of PUSH and PULL marketing tactics…

YOUR HEADLINE…

BUSINESS ANALYST: Operations Accounting | Database Administration | Financial Analysis | (more if space allows)

 YOUR SUMMARY…

 (Start by copying and pasting from your resume… then personalize by putting the nouns back in and adding KEYWORD accomplishments…)

I am a resourceful and productive Business Management professional with over twenty years of diverse and progressively responsible experience in a fast paced dynamic environment.  My proven strengths lie within the areas of accounting and administrative assistance. I am used to the dynamic demand of operations accounting, customer service, database management, data collection and analysis, and prioritizing workload.   I’ve been reviewed consistently for having a pro-active attitude, focusing on the customers and their needs.

Managers seem to value me as a detail-oriented, critical thinker who thrives in a team environment with diversified stakeholders and clientele, focused on personal development and process improvement. Proficient within proprietary and other systems, as well as Microsoft Excel.

OPERATIONS ACCOUNTING: I was promoted to continue previous retail billing duties with the addition of commercial billing duties for commercial and retail platform.  I coordinate with customer service and manufacturing to obtain information related to customer’s account and orders.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATION: I’ve prepared detailed invoices per customer contract for commercial accounts, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  I have also assisted with individual account budgets, providing data input of pricing, cost, VAR information.

FINANCIAL ANALYSIS:  I prepare detailed invoices, including credit allowances to customer as required by account contract.  This requires knowledge of customer contracts, pricing list, invoice discounts and rebates when applicable.

Available for immediate contact at phone# and email address

TASK#2 is to learn the various functionalities that allow you to find new connection, grow and focus your network, and find useful information.

  1. Join LinkedIn groups and post comments
  2. Post relevant content in groups
  3. Post questions
  4. Promote events in which you are involved

 TASK#3 is to exploit the JOBS and job seeking functionalities.

Achieving CAREER “FITness”

roadsign-banner2In order to market yourself, you must first know yourself.  The job search process is essentially a highly personalized marketing process.  The process starts with your candid self-assessment, which allows you to gain a thorough and workable understanding of who you are in product marketing terms.


This Week’s Session: Thursday, September 12th… Achieving CareerFIT:  An exploration of the “two flavors” of assessment, decision-making (positioning) and word-crafting of your resume and LinkedIn Profile.


JigSaw-partnershipEspecially if you are starting a resume “from scratch”, or if you are truly unsettled on next steps along your career path, this becomes a necessary first step in the process.

What YOU Do Best, and are motivated to do for a future employer…

What do you do best?  What are your strongest transferable skills?  Think broadly in terms of managerial and technical/ functional strengths involved in what you have to offer.  Discovering your “pattern of success and satisfaction” is your goal, here.

Your ability to express the collection of your functional strengths will measure your marketability.  This collection of keywords and their supportive evidence creates your communication strategy, the basis of your value proposition.

The old “round peg in a round role” theory of career planning is dysfunctional.  In the typical professional environment today, job descriptions are changing faster than ever before to keep up with the challenges of an economy in transition. In the traditional job market, job seekers are the sellers and their potential employers are the buyers.  The commodity is JOBs and the competition is fierce.

In The OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  The commodity is available, productive WORK… When employers have a need for someone to fulfill a specific role, often the most desired candidates are employed individuals with the credentials they seek.  Thus the employer must sell their Company to potential employees in the marketplace in order to attract the best of the lot.  Once identified, they simply select their choice and buy their services.

Seize control of such challenges.   Understand the nature of FIT.  

What is a Good, Career FIT For You?  To achieve a good “fit” between you and any future opportunity, you have to ask yourself some basic questions about yourself and your prospective employers. The fit depends on how well the jobs meets your needs and how well your skills and abilities meet the employer’s needs. The employer will make a decision and extend an offer to you: now it is time for you to make your decision.

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job… actually write out your list.  During your career transition, learn the value of setting your offer criteria, a key element of your Personal Market Plan:

  • Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
  • Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research (factual information) and networking (more subjective information);
  • Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

 OFFER CRITERIA

Write out the factors that are important to you in a job…actually write out your list. During your career transition, you learn the value of setting your offer criteria.

1. Creates an objective target for your efforts ahead;
2. Gives you a meaningful set of questions to ask during research and networking;
3. Provides an objective way to analyze and react to offers as they occur.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.

  • Keep your “offer criteria” in that dynamic state of change that allows you to adapt to market conditions.
  • If your current goal is to find a new position, then you should prepare your search as a “business model”, manage it accordingly, be flexible, and be ready for the unexpected.

You understand that managing your own career involves three key ingredients:

  1. Confidence in knowing that your career is on the right path;
  2. Continuous research and networking leading to awareness of potential “next steps…” to keep your career moving forward;
  3. Competency with job-changing skills.

To manage your career wisely has you extending the same concept.  Consider some of the factors listed below … Examine each factor through the questions listed – and then ask “does this opportunity fit me?”

Go Into EVERY Interview With a Notion of FIT… A GOOD FIT!

JigSaw-partnershipEvery step in the job search process is aimed at obtaining interviews.  It is at that point, a potential hiring manager decides if you are right for the job, and, just as important, it is your time to evaluate whether the job is right for you. Most interviews follow a predictable format, with steps that both the interviewer and applicant follow to decide if both will benefit from working together.


THIS Week’s Session, Thursday, August 22… Closing The Deal I: Interview Strategies, including MoneySpeak… and a look at PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1The best interviews are ones in which both participants are equal and can have a mutually beneficial, interactive conversation regarding the opportunity at hand.

Think of an interview as the natural extension, the successful result of your effective networking.  Many networking conversations actually become screening interviews, where influential contacts are assessing your qualifications, skill sets and experience relative to an opportunity at hand.  “Perfect practice” of the basics builds the confidence necessary to perform well in formal job interviews.

Let’s break down the basics into four areas…

  1. pre-contact preparation/ research,
  2. greeting and rapport,
  3. questions/answers, and …
  4. meeting closure.

All four stages are equally important and deserve your consideration and preparation.

The Three Phases of Every Interview

 There are three things that must be discussed in every interview:  First, the Candidate, a discussion usually conducted in the past tense to assess experience, knowledge, and skills… do they meet the potential employer’s REQUIREMENTS?

Second, the job itself.  Beyond meeting requirements, each Candidate must be judged for their potential to meet EXPECTATIONS.  As important, will the Candidate “fit in” on the team and Company culture?  This discussion occurs in the future tense… very obvious transition in a “good” interview.

Last, but certainly not least, is the quality of FIT.  While this is the most subjective and dysfunctional part of the process, it is where both sides must come together for a desired outcome.  When both sides like and find the other to be attractive, a “right” employment opportunity can result.  This is also where the QandA can become more defensive in nature.

 Research the company/position

Second level research will help you to identify attractive companies.  But, this is third level (in-depth) research.  Learn as much as possible about the company, the position and the individual who will be conducting the interview.  Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate.

Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates interviewing for the job.

 Use the following research strategies:

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share. Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • Ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked (Customers and Vendors, remember them?) and ask what they know about the company and/or individual conducting the interview.
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

Once your basic research is complete, you must next identify how your abilities, experience and expertise can meet the needs of the interviewer, the company and the job.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.  It is the company’s needs that you must fill, not your own.  Surprisingly, however, by meeting the company’s needs, your needs also will be met.

Your VALUE PROPOSITION

Prepare for your interviews (and networking meetings) by fully understanding the value you bring to a potential employer and hiring company.    Incorporate portions of this information into your interview responses, or use some of the material in your interview closing remarks.  Tell them why you are good at what you do!

IF You KNEW Your Next “Job”…

JigSaw-partnershipIf a job seeker KNEW their next employer, the responsibilities they’d have–the title, and were assured of that terrific “cultural FIT…”  Then, all they’d have to do to create productivity and efficiency in their search efforts is to “reverse engineer” the desired result into successful approaches.

Easier said than done… but underlying that fantasy we see the infrastructure for turning opportunities into interviews to secure their next right employment opportunity.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, August 15th… Turning Opportunities Into Interviews


chalk1This topic represents what most people call ‘active job search, but, as you can learn, the HOW –TO is what creates your success in networking. It professes strategies and tactics that will generate more effective networking.  In your ‘first wave’ of networking you had the opportunity to:

  1. Reconnect with people you already know or have cause to know…
  2. In a non-threatening environment, confirm your positioning and get valuable input to your assessment and objective setting…
  3. Broaden your networking base, and gaining confidence in the process–a neat by-product that will serve you well for the rest of your career…
  4. Identify attractive opportunities, and targeted organization!

You’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 3’ of networking… which, simply put, is networking your way in to attractive opportunities.  You will focus your activity and time management to the business of creating INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION with employees, customers, and vendors–the “stakeholders”– within and surrounding any targeted organization.

 RESEARCHING: TARGET Organizations

Step six in our 12-step Process, first level research, will help you to identify attractive trends and targeted companies.  But, in THIS context, I suggest digging a bit deeper in order to help secure an interview… Learn as much as possible about the company, the potential opportunity, and the hiring authority–This is usually your next boss, but could be even higher in the chain of command.

Your research goals ought to include developing information about the company’s products, people, organizational structure, successes (and failures), profits (and losses), capital spending, strategic plans, philosophy and labor climate. Showing your knowledge of some of this information can give you added credibility over other candidates networking to, and actually interviewing for the job.

  • Research the company web site, looking for information relative to your function and level… a company’s financial and annual reports can provide clues to their stability and market share. Don’t forget directories, trade journals, the “business press,” and databases of articles and other news.
  • As part of your ‘second wave of networking,’ ask a friendly recruiter, business acquaintance or stockbroker what they know about the company… and by extension, call people with whom you have networked and ask what they know about the company
  • Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  • Call the company directly; request a sales brochure, annual report or other company information. Companies have to market themselves, too, you know!

 Telephone and Networking Skills

On a scale of passive to assertive => to aggressive, let’s take a look at how we could communicate direct to contacts in and surrounding a targeted organization…

 Email…safe, but too easy to be deleted before a relationship is established. Requires follow-up.

LETTER of introduction… also safe, but read more often. Paves the way for a first call to a referral… creates dialog. Requires phone follow-up.

Phone call…direct… often a cold call… requires risk. Establishes contact, interaction and, worst case, VISIBILITY.

There’s only two reasons to be on the phone during active job search…

  1. Reconnecting with valid contacts, seeking their advice and information, sharing your communication strategy, and seeking referral activity…
  2. Securing actual interviews

Cover NOTE and resume… Rather than mindlessly applying to countless jobs, playing the numbers game; develop your networking style to motivate a person to request your resume.  When requested, resumes get read more often, AND…

  • Establishes relationship.
  • Requires follow-through.
  • Leads to face2face office visit!