Monday, November 2, 2009

Bored? Now what? (Cont.)

Last week, I talked about how I didn't take advantage of extra time in an attempt to influence my future when I knew my employer was not in the best financial and sales health. I'm sure that after reading that, especially with my opening line stating how I've been unemployed since the end of May, many of you are wondering "have you learned from your experience?" Obviously, if I'm unemployed there are things that I could be doing right now to lessen the stress level and more quickly reenter the workforce...

...right?

Last week, Donna Sweidan posed a question on LinkedIn that followed a similar vein. She's currently finishing up a book / DVD set on using LinkedIn effectively for a job search, and wanted some final input. Specifically, her question was:

"What do you do on a daily/weekly basis to maintain your networking momentum? It seems a given today that networking for your job search is as important as exercise is to a healthy lifestyle, but just like so many of us have a hard time keeping up with an exercise routine, I am seeing too many job seekers who tell me that they don't network nearly enough! I think it's pretty clear though, that consistent and strategic networking is probably the most important job search activity a job seeker can be doing in this current market. So, my question to all of you who are doing it successfully: what is your secret? What one or two tips can you share with others that help you maintain your networking mojo? What do you do on a daily or weekly basis to keep the momentum going?"

This, I feel, is a nice segue from last week's topic especially since the landscape has evolved considerably since my previous experience several years ago. So without further ado, here are the things that I have been doing.

Write a blog. I write this weekly blog. To promote it, I use ping.fm (but feel free to use any of a number of similar services) to add a brief, one sentence summary of the blog along with a link to it.

Promote your professional wisdom. I publish (using LinkedIn's Google Presentations application) a 3 slide PowerPoint to my LinkedIn profile when my blog entry is published. It summarizes the blog entry with a plug and a link to the blog on the last slide.

Stay in contact. Every few days, I scan through the network updates on LinkedIn and send 2 or 3 emails to people that I have worked with in the past and with whom I have had limited contact during the past 3 months. The email is typically something innocuous like "I'm just checking in" and is intended to spark a brief conversation that does not necessarily have to have any business relevance.

Get on their radar. I answer questions on LinkedIn, because I know the fact that I answered them will show up in my network's updates.

Just recently, I was asked by a potential employer for 2 managers that I reported to and a contact that was a customer of mine earlier this year at a particular Fortune 100 company. I called up the contact, introduced myself, and asked if they remembered me.

"Of course I do," they replied. "Plus, you seem to be all over LinkedIn."

The fact that I do a lot of stuff on LinkedIn ensures that I stay on people's radar. Couple this with the fact that I have purposefully built my network to be filled (to the greatest extent possible) with people who hold positions of influence, and you can see why the momentum I have maintained is so important.

Another example of the success of a strategy like this came in the form of an email that I sent to a former colleague (see item 3 above). In my email, I asked how he was doing. He responded, "I'm great - thanks. I see you're pretty active [on LinkedIn]." Again, this is a validation of my efforts to stay on people's radar.

Efforts mean little without demonstrable results, correct? After the demise of my position I immediately reached out to my network and consistently contacted them to see if anyone knew of any position that could take advantage of what I've demonstrated over the past number of years. Frequently, the response was similar to the following: "you have exactly the skills and experience that we need...but we have no budget / headcount / etc." However, now that things are turning around - and I won't deny that I feel that a large part of this is due to companies, in advance, deciding to freeze hiring until Q4 of this calendar year, which ended in September - I have seen a noticeable uptick in activity. In fact, I have recently completed interview cycles with 3 companies currently vying for me and am entering the negotiation stage with 1 of those 3.

It remains to be seen what the future holds, but because of my efforts to ensure that I remain relevant I am cautiously optimistic about the weeks ahead.

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