Your ‘Digital FOOTPRINT’

Your Career CompassSocial media is a great place to learn about and create a digital conversation with your market. Potential employers do not want to be talked-to, or worse yet sold-to on these platforms. Your followers want to know they have a place to come learn, to ask questions about things THEY care about, and to know they are being heard.

THIS Week’s session:  Thursday, March 15th… Turning OPPORTUNITIES into INTERVIEWS: a how-to look at networking your way IN to a targeted organization.

chalk1Here are some things we’ve learned from listening to those we’ve served since the advent of LinkedIn, the preferred place for professional level job seekers to leave their “digital footprint.”

What’ll IT Be, Push or Pull?

In “PUSH Marketing,” you need to take a low-key approach and offer 90% of insights and education to your market, with only 10% of things that would be seen as a sales pitch. Of course, ALL your social media content is “selling” in one way or another, but your market will be turned off if it comes across as a hard sell.

On the other side, don’t just post silly photos or motivation quotes. Position yourself as a subject matter expert and a source of real help to your followers, by sharing valuable information your market cares about (using UPDATES to post white papers…or sprinkle them in to your Profile).

PULL Marketing,” on the other hand, requires a concerted effort to optimize your keyword concentration (SEO) to attain high page ranking in keyword searches.  This is where most beginners start as they learn and gain confidence with the various functionalities offered by LinkedIn

The challenge is that either approach, when taken to an extreme, could be viewed as manipulative or ‘gaming the system’ (extreme pull)… or just too much narrative fluff (extreme push).  So in this brief handout we will be taking a down the middle approach which will give both beginning and intermediate users of LinkedIn the ‘best of both worlds’ in LinkedIn utility.

In-Sync, NOT Duplicate Personal Marketing Collaterals

While one’s resume is all about wise use of two pages worth of ‘vertical space,’ your LinkedIn Profile has no such limitation, but contains the very same elements of content: A clear positioning statement, a concise qualification summary, evidence of your supportive experience, and your education/ training.

Task#1: A Dynamic Profile

Your RESUME Your LinkedIn Profile
A clear and specific positioning statement + defining KEYWORDS A compelling HEADLINE that speaks to your professional branding efforts
A Qualification SUMMARY that directs the reader to your value proposition “Your story” in a nutshell, providing the reader a SUMMARY of your value to them
Professional Experience: Provides the reader with proof that you have the requisite experience to meet requirements and perform well A chronological look at the jobs you’ve held:  Proof that you have the requisite experience to meet requirements and perform well
EDUCATION or related training and certifications EDUCATION or related training and certifications

When employed, your HEADLINE might present you as the <<Billing Manager at LSC Communications (formerly RR Donnelley) >>.

However, when seeking your next right employment opportunity you have some choices.  Using “Pull Marketing” tactics, you could present yourself as…

OFFICE MANAGEMENT: Financial Analysis | Operations Accounting | Customer Service | Database Administration


Using the more narrative “Push Marketing” tactics, you could present yourself as…

Resourceful OFFICE MANAGER, skilled in Financial Analysis, Operations Accounting, Customer Service, and Database Administration

You’ll want to use all the space available to you in your headline if possible as this is where search engines ‘look’ first, leaving  your “digital footprints” throughout your usage of LinkedIn’s functionality.  Your ‘editing window’ will stop you at the maximum character level.


The SUMMARY is one of the most important parts of the jigsaw and usually the first thing people will read on your profile. While there’s no strict template to stick to, there are certain approaches and techniques that have proved successful.


Tackling the 500# Gorilla in Job Search

chalk1Lack of knowledge regarding the process. If you don’t understand the interactive nature of networking, now’s the time to learn. To be an effective net-worker, you need to be willing to serve as a conduit, sharing information, building relationships based on trust and reciprocity, leveraging existing relationships to create new ones, and following through to create ways to stay in touch to continue giving.

Those who don’t fully understand the process, who use people for information and never build the relationship, or return the favor, give networking a bad name and lose credibility in the eyes of others.

NEXT Session: Thursday, March 8th… Implementing your Personal Marketing Plan: Creating and sustaining the ‘waves’ of networking

Pilot OnboardNetworking is about building trust and respect, not tearing away at it! Be aware of the effectiveness of networking. Most people in a job search spend too much time canvassing the open job market, the market everyone gets to see through job posting boards and recruiters.  APPLYING for jobs is quite less effective than networking your way toward your next right opportunities.

So, you don’t want to ask for a favor, eh?  Many people think that when you network you’re asking someone for a job. But this is not the goal of networking. When you network, you never ask for a job. You ask for information about an industry, company, or position.  On those phone calls, you are not seeking JOB consideration, rather advice, information and referrals (remember the acronym A.I.R.)

The Careerpilot understands that it’s not comfortable talking to people you don’t know. Sixty percent (60%) of the population consider themselves shy. This perception leads to less networking. If the prospect of speaking to someone you don’t know is overwhelming right now, start to build your network by talking with people you do know such as friends, family, neighbors, or your doctor or dentist.

Fear of rejection. Many people fear that if they ask for information the other person might not be willing to talk to them. While it is true that not everyone will agree to meet with you, many people will extend help to you and you have nothing to lose by asking.

If they can lead you to others who can help you gain necessary information for your search, your network will grow in a steady, comfortable way.  …And at the same time, your confidence and comfort will be growing.  And as your confidence grows, “listen” for the anticipated jobs (PRE-requisition) and the opportunities for undefined roles…

Learn to embrace this OTHER Job Market… but the pathway to IT is through your comfort level in identifying and pursuing the unpublished, or hidden marketplace.

Far fewer explore the hidden market; the actual jobs that are never posted, but instead are filled through connections, internal endorsements, and post-interview placements into a better fitting role  The odds of finding a position through the smaller, hidden market are greater than those in the open market.

You may want to do it on your own. When you’re selected for a position, it’s because you have the skills to support the needs of the position. You showcase your individual accomplishments and differentiate yourself from the competition.

But in order to tell your stories to the right person you need to cast a wide net. You leverage your network to find the right audience, not to get the job.

You may be uncomfortable talking about yourself. Many of us were raised to be humble and not to brag. Networking and interviewing requires that you talk about yourself and your accomplishments.

Consider the use of the ‘third-person’ when discussing your own merits.  When you talk about your skills, you’re not bragging. It’s only bragging if your discussion contains false hyperbole.  OR, you may have concerns about others knowing your business. Feeling too proud to tell people you’re in a job search?

Examine the cause. Have you assumed that networking is asking for a job? Next, examine the consequences. If you fail to incorporate networking as a method of search, it may take you much longer to find a job.

Expecting things to move too quickly. Networking is an ongoing process. Like a child, your network needs time to grow and you need to nurture it along the way. You must pay attention to your network to keep relationships strong. Many contacts are not able to lead you to the person capable of making a hiring decision.

You must constantly “stir the pot” to effectively network.  Maintain consistent, and in-sync presentation of all your personal marketing collateral materials within your network… and it will in turn take care of you.  Nurture your network, building toward ‘top-of-mind’ awareness of your potential candidacy.

PLAN Before You Need To!

Compass-seaLJust as the competent sailor must select their destination in order to have a successful voyage, so must the productive and efficient job seeker know what is a right work opportunity to identify, proceed toward…and secure!  While this seems like an incredible over-simplification, mere ‘common sense,’ it is knowledge that eludes most unemployed people.  You see, when you’re employed you tend to assume that your employer will help you to navigate those ‘next steps’ in your career. Ah, but when you’ve lost your job, your fellow employees, and your employer… WHOA… the rules seem to have changed!

Next Session is Thursday, March 1st: Developing YOUR Personal Marketing Plan… the epicenter of job search and time management, brings FOCUS to the process!

While the sailor’s journey could be defined by its destination, his success is determined by the course he selects, and, most significantly, having an appropriate ship to make the passage as smooth as possible.

In Steps #1 and #2 of our 12-step process we learn to assess (know the features of our ship) and set our objective (select our destination and course) so that we can develop a GREAT Resume, one that allows our future employer to help navigate our journey, thus we embrace the OTHER job market!


 You are now the product that must be marketed.  In 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.

When a Company looks for qualified employees, they seek functional evidence that demonstrates a job seeker’s ability to perform to expectations… JOB REQUIREMENTS represent the HR screening process!

Especially 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.

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.

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

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

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

Right Resources for An Effective Search

In Steps #3 through #7 we assemble supportive ‘tools and resources’ for the job search ahead (a competent sailor ‘provisions’ his ship for the journey)… the most important of which is having a plan, a Personal Marketing Plan (our charted course to get us to our destination)…which is Step#8.

  1. Develop Personal Marketing collateral materials (Resume, etc.)
  2. Test Market with References
  3. Branding via social media (LinkedIn ‘footprint’)
  4. Basic market research to determine trends and targets
  5. Determine potential marketplace (your initial contact list)
  6. Develop your PMP (chart your course)

Eight out of your 12 Steps and you haven’t even left the harbor yet!

JOB SEARCH as a Second Language

Compass-seaLHaving your collaterals prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.

This week’s session, Thursday, February 15thDeveloping your in-sync Personal Marketing Collaterals

Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

  • Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
  • Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.

Instead, the SMART job-seeker chooses to build relationships with potential employers first, researching attractive trends and targeted organizations in order to maximize probability of success, avoiding the HR-driven screening process to identify appropriate opportunities for securing their next right employment.


“WORDCRAFT” your resume and other collateral materials…Create a forward looking “story” of what YOU CAN DO. Target your accomplishments, such as increased sales and profits, reductions in costs, etc. Focus on achievements that support your qualifications for your job goal.

Are you challenged in finding the right words?  LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for you to use in self-assessment.  Access the LinkedIn Profiles of other professionals like you… experiment by searching for a person like you in LinkedIn.

KEYWORDS become personalized phrases by incorporating adjectives and adverbs that uniquely FIT you…

Those phrases should be confirmed for the reader and listener with high-impact accomplishment statements (behavioral evidence, like the bulleted information in a well written resume)… a well-‘crafted’ accomplishment statement can trigger appropriate questions that allow you to expand on your strengths, with…

…positive, supportive examples, elements of your career story—PROOF of your value proposition.

BUT, What About YOU?

chalk1In 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.  Especially 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.

Next Session:  Thursday, February 1st… Achieving CareerFIT I, an exploration of YOU from the inside out!

Pilot OnboardKeep in mind that 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.

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.  

Understanding your own personality, understanding the nature of what attracts you… understanding what gives you CHOICE is Step#1.  Then you can consider some of the factors listed below … Examine each factor through the questions listed – and then ask “does this opportunity fit me?”

Work Requirements and Expectations: What is the next  appropriate work for you? Is the work process or project oriented?  If it’s process oriented, are the requirements and expectations clear?  What kinds of projects will you work on? Will you work on one project at a time, or multiple projects? Are the projects long term or short term? Will you work on a project long enough to see the end result? Is it important to you to be able to see the project as a whole, including the result? Or will you be content to do the work without a big picture understanding?

Work Environment: Will the work space be a source of comfort and confidence for you? How formal or informal is the environment? Hectic, fast paced? Will you have the opportunity to have flex time, or to tele-commute? How many hours a week does the employer expect you to work? Will you have the freedom to wear casual clothes? What is a typical day like at the company you are considering?  Would they allow a “trial visit” or at least a site visit?

Career Path: Is there a defined succession plan? What position(s) can you move to next? How long do new hires generally stay in the same job? How quickly do people get promoted? Are your opportunities for professional development well defined and available to you? Are mentors available?

Training and Personal Development: what kind of training will you get from the employer to do the job? What kind of training will you get to stay current in your area of interest? Are the answers to these two questions different? Does it matter to you if the answers are different?

BUT, What About YOU?

Strengths          Strengths differ from skills, in that your strengths were not learned or taught, but inborn.  The kind of things which you find easy to do, when others struggle with the same task, can be thought of as a strength.  Perhaps you have used strengths on the job in the past, and if so, you should consider leveraging that strength in your future.

Unfortunately, many people never recognize their strengths, or don’t see a way to use them in the work roles they have played. But, what if you could….?

 Skills                     What we have learned, developed, or have experienced in the workplace.  Those tasks you have performed for another employer, for pay, in the past.  You need to consider skills in two ways:

  1. Competency, or how good you are at the skill, as well as
  2. Motivation, how you feel about performing the skill.

You want to focus on skills where you have both High Competency and High Motivation for your future career development.  Be careful about those skills with High Competency, but Low Motivation.  If you would rather never perform a skill that you have done well for years, it might not be wise to include that skill in your personal marketing collateral materials.

Interests      What kind of things would you enjoy doing, or learning about, even if there was no paycheck involved? Can you identify some topics or activities to which you are, and have always been, naturally drawn?  These might be called your Interests, and they are a key to career success.

Passions are simply very strong interests, and you may have heard someone give career advice about “following your passion!) Interests combined with skills can be very rewarding in the workplace.

Personality/Emotional Intelligence We are all different from one another, in many different ways.  Those differences do not make us wrong, or bad, but they can create conflict or poor communication between people who do not appreciate or understand natural differences.

Learning how you “see the world” differently than other people do can provide clues to how to better understand or relate to people.  This can provide a major advantage in a person who has to work with others, or lead others.  What are your natural preferences? The answer to this question can guide a person to make better decisions regarding their career.

Another difference that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years surrounds the issue of Emotional Intelligence.  This is the degree by which a person is both aware of their and other’s emotional state, as well as the degree by which they manage those emotions.  It seems likely that the higher your EQ, the more likely you will find success in relationships and in the workplace.

Values     What is most important to you, and what will you protect or defend if necessary? How do you expect to be treated in the workplace, by co-workers and leaders? What are the “rules” by which you choose to live your life? These are the rules that define how you, and others, should behave in society.  These “rules”, or values, can be the most important self-awareness a person should draw from when considering career moves.

If the work you do, or the people and organization where you perform you work, share some of your highest values, you are more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled in that work.  Where our higher values are routinely violated, or when we are required to abandon some of them on a regular basis at work, the result can be frustration, anger, dis-engagement, and ultimately burn-out.

The problem is that we rarely think about our values, and probably can’t list them if asked… Even though we constantly use them to react to people or events.  Most values are buried deep in our minds.

The OTHER Job Market?


roadsign-banner2Many 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.

THIS Week’s session, Thursday, January 25th… Embracing The OTHER Job Market: a discussion of basic philosophies and Waypoints

chalk1So, 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!


You know, the one that the Department of Labor attempts to measure and regularly regurgitates ‘job statistics’ from… the one that The Internet has turned in to a ‘black hole’ of application response… the one that allows a computer to judge you worthy of consideration before ever being considered by a human being.  Why on earth would a job seeker trust THAT?

The OTHER Job Market

You know, the one that prefers to know you before having to face the dysfunctional HR screening process,… or better yet, the one that prefers endorsement of you from a trusted colleague… the one that values proactive relationship building as a way of solving the many dysfunctions of more traditional approaches to finding the right new hire.

The ‘Traditional’ JOB Market The OTHER Job Market
Characterized by “requisitioned” jobs being filled by chosen job seekers. Characterized by available/needed work being fulfilled by job seekers, contractors, internal candidates, third-party consultants, retirees, part-timers, temporary workers, etc.
JOBS rigidly defined by requirements and qualifications… reflected by the screening process aimed at identifying key candidates. Work expectations are subjective, defined by mutual agreement, fulfillment of need or contract… reflected through the identification of qualified candidates.
Process overseen by Human Resource professionals, regulated to consider minimally qualified candidates, hopefully within salary guidelines. Process directed by hiring authorities seeking best available talent at marketplace salary expectations.
JOB Seeking PUBLIC is screened for most desirable candidates. Qualified and available candidates are sourced and recruited, often through process of endorsement or internal referral.
Screening defined by KEYWORDS, often accomplished through computer/internet job banks and resume databases. Screening accomplished by word of mouth and endorsement, often supplementing the organization’s formal process of recruitment.
Recruitment process subject to scrutiny of regulation and political correctness. Often selection process has occurred before active recruitment has been fully engaged.
Actual selection still subject to formal process and subjective choice. Actual selection often a rubber stamp formality to satisfy regulation requirements.

Everyone wants a voice in strategic decisions and to be included in ‘the conversation.’ To truly be included, you need to be invited. And you will only be invited if you are seen as absolutely essential to the TEAM.  Remember, team player and team leader CAN BE interchangeable terms.

In the OTHER Job Market, buyers and sellers hold equal responsibility for the recruitment process.  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.  You can…

Trust That!


Compass-seaLThis 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 reconnect with people you already know or have cause to know… a nice by product of your efforts is the identification of attractive opportunities, and targeted organizations!

Make FIT happen!

NEXT SESSION: Turning Opportunity into INTERVIEWS!  Thursday, January 4th at The Egg and I Restaurant in Addison

chalk1You’ll be the first to know when you’re ready for ‘wave 2’ 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.


So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal collateral materials!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including PRE-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal salesmanship.

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

Informational “Interviews” With Key Contacts

In addition to being introspective, it’s also important to get out there and start becoming your own best CAREER Coach, learning about satisfying next steps, the career moves you’re interested in.   And what better resource than the very people already in, or connected with, those you seek?

As an active job seeker, especially in the first few months of a job search, networking your way to one informational interview per week is essential to your campaign’s success.  This may sound like a lot, but initially quantity is more important than quality as you want to get a sense of a wide variety of roles in different industries based on the results of your introspection.

The more people you speak with, the more you’ll be exposed to fields you might wish to pursue. With that said, you don’t want the person on the receiving end to feel that way—so always make sure to come prepared and send a thank you.

The GREAT Informational Interview

Let’s say you managed the tricky process of asking for an informational interview and have succeeded in arranging a meeting with an amazing contact. What now? How do you make the most of this conversation—while still keeping things casual and comfortable?

As always, it’s just a matter of being prepared. Here’s a three-part process for your next meeting that’ll make sure you get the advice you need… and make a great  impression on those who may direct you to your next steps.

  1. The Warm Up

People love to talk about themselves, so when you first sit down, give them a perfect opportunity!  Get the conversation going by asking your contact something about his or her experiences thus far—something he or she knows all about. Some good places to begin:

  • How did you get your start in this field?
  • What’s it like working at your company?
  • What projects are you working on right now?
  • What’s your opinion on [exciting development in the industry]?

You should also be prepared to chat about yourself, your past experiences, and your career goals. Remember, this meeting isn’t just a time to ask for advice and learn from your contact’s experiences—it’s also a chance to make an impression.

  1. Your Pitch

After you’ve made some general conversation, it’s time to move on to what you came for: the advice you can’t get anywhere else. Before the meeting, think through the insider information you want to learn from this person.

  • What information are you seeking?
  • Is there something you can learn from this person that would be difficult for you to learn on your own?

Depending on where you are in the job search process, adjust your questions accordingly. For example, if you’re still in exploration mode, trying to find out if, say, working for an technology startup is for you, then ask questions like:

  • How did you choose this company or position over others in your field?
  • What is the most rewarding thing about working in this industry? The most challenging?
  • My background is in ___________… how do you think I can best leverage my previous experience for this field?

If you’re further along in your job search and could use some job hunting and interviewing tips for specific companies, don’t be afraid to ask questions like:

  • What experiences, skills, or personality traits does your company look for in new hires?
  • What do you wish you had done differently when you first started at your company?
  • What job search advice would you give to someone in my situation?

Of course, you’ll want go with the flow of the conversation—you’re trying to build a relationship, not fire off as many questions as you can.

Also remember that what these questions have in common is that they are all seeking advice, information, or referrals (AIR not JOB). Keep it that way. It’s no mystery that you are clearly looking for a new position or career change, and the fastest way to alienate your contact is to ask for a job (or anything along those lines).

REPEAT: The fastest way to alienate your contact is to ask for a job (or anything along those lines). If your contact offers to forward your resume based on your conversation, then by all means, take advantage of it. But that process is for him or her to initiate, not you.

  1. Tap Into Their Network… a “Lost Owl” Strategy

When wrapping up the meeting, you should ask for recommendations for two or three more people who would be good to talk to as you continue networking.  “WHO else or WHERE else might I go for more advice and information?  The likelihood someone will take time to chat with you goes up significantly if your initial request comes through a mutual contact, so it’s a fast, easy way to broaden the reach of your networking effort.

The key here is to make your request as specific as possible. This might be counter-intuitive, but it actually makes it easier for your contact to think of someone when you say, “Could you recommend a couple more people for me to speak with to learn more about harnessing of available wind energy?”  …than to come up with an answer to, “Is there anyone else you would recommend that I speak with?”

To recap: Get the conversation going, know what you want to get out of the meeting, and don’t leave without knowing who you’re contacting next. And don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you note!

Better yet, follow up again with an update on your meetings with the people he or she recommended and the results of your job search. After all, your informational interviewees aren’t just useful for their one-time advice—they can become a long-term part of your network.