Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Networking Made Easy by Mark Cook – August 22, 2017

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Two managers having conversation




What comes to mind when you hear the word “networking”?

 I recently asked a few of my clients that question and here are some of their responses:

  • Wine and cheese events
  • Meeting lots of new people
  • Awkward
  • Leaving with lots of business cards from people I barely got to know
  • Not easy and not sure how it benefited me

If you are like most, networking is a difficult task you would rather avoid. You may also be unclear about your desired results and whether you have achieved them.

But, networking doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, networking that gets results is not complicated and everyone can do it—and perhaps even enjoy it – when you know what to do and you prepare in advance.

At Heart At Work, we have a unique perspective on networking. We coach clients about the three types of networking meetings:

  • A Professional “networking” Event where people with common interests gather to exchange business cards and quick introductions.
  • Informational interviews, when you are exploring a career field and need detailed and current information to determine if it’s a good fit for you
  • Strategic conversations, when you know the field of work in which you want to work, the position you are qualified for, or when you want to explore how your skills might fit with an organization’s needs

The key for all meetings is to be intentional and have an agenda. You need to be clear about the purpose of your meeting and then prepare accordingly.

If you have an upcoming informational interview, for example, develop a list of questions in advance. Research the person you are meeting with on Google and LInkedin. Make sure you have a current resume that highlights your accomplishments and a LinkedIn profile that draws interest and speaks to your capabilities, since it’s more than likely that your contact may look you up.

Next week, I’ll discuss the types of networking meeting more specifically and how to leverage them for your success.

Are you 50+ and in a job search? Then you need to know this.

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

No matter their position or level of education, my clients over 50 have concerns about age discrimination. But, in every case I reassure and counsel them about what will enable their success:   clearly communicating their skills, focusing on their target, and being strategic in their conversations (aka: effective networking).

I also add facts to reduce their anxiety of being passed over because of their age: one-third of Maine’s population is between 50 and 70 (the boomer demographic), and the younger generation is growing at a snail’s pace. This alarming statistic has resulted in a marketplace across industries that needs all the talent and experience it can get—no matter the age.

However, not everyone over 50 can assume they’re guaranteed a job despite the talent gap in Maine that’s predicted to extend into the next decade.

Being competitive and strategic at any age is essential to secure the best opportunity. Here are three essential components of the over-50 job search:

  • Clearly communicating your skills and competencies: Looking for a job requires you to be honest and frank about your strengths—it’s not a time to be shy or modest about what you do well. Your resume’ and LinkedIn profile should be consistent, but not redundant with your skills message.
  • Focusing on your target: 25 years ago, you would identify a job title from a rather short list (compared to today’s marketplace) of possible positions and apply through the local newspaper. Currently, you’d limit yourself by aiming for specific titles. Instead, today’s job seekers need to know where their skills align with opportunities in the marketplace—the organizations that need what they have to offer—the focus of their job search.
  • Being strategic in your conversations: The term “networking” is bantered around any job search conversation. But, few people understand what it really means to be successful in networking. It’s so important to a job seeker’s success that the team at Heart At Work Associates now offers monthly complimentary “Networking Made Easy” events to our clients and guests.

Engaging in strategic conversations involves knowing why you are meeting with your contact, being able to state your strengths, and asking for what you want as a takeaway (typically the promise of an introduction to someone else). The heart of the conversation is about their current challenges and how your skills might add to solutions. This strategy is not about “selling yourself”, but rather, it’s about exploring your options to find a good match for what you offer.

It’s true that finding a job has changed dramatically from when you were younger. But, remember that you’ve increased your experience and developed your skills and become more comfortable with yourself since then.

Now it’s time to put them together in an environment that fits your life stage and all that you have to offer.

The real power of Linkedin by Scott Woodard – April 6, 2015

Monday, April 6th, 2015

linkedinOne of the first things we’ll ask our clients is if they are on LinkedIn or not. We’ll usually get one of three responses:

  1. “Yes, but just barely. I don’t have much of a profile;” or
  2. “No, I have never seen the need;” or
  3. “Yes I am! I have several hundred connections!”

To responses 1 and 2, we explain why LinkedIn is such an important tool for their career, and why a strong profile is so important.

To response 3 we say “That’s great! How are you using it?”

“Well,” they might say, “I connect with a lot of people.”

“Terrific,” we’ll reply, “but how are you using LinkedIn? How are you making those connections work for you?”

We believe so strongly in LinkedIn as a way to manage your career that we hold workshops twice a month so that our clients can learn how to make LinkedIn work for them. We teach them the real power of LinkedIn.

You probably know that LinkedIn is the professional network; that you can find people of interest, organizations of interest and jobs. You may know that over 90% of recruiters — both retained recruiters and in-house, corporate recruiters — use LinkedIn to search for the talent their company is seeking. So it’s important to have a strong and complete profile on LinkedIn.

However, you may not know that just having a profile on LinkedIn is only part of the issue. The real power of LinkedIn is in leveraging the network you build.

Those connections you have in your network — whether it’s a few dozen or several hundred — link you to many, many other people who can help you gain entree to organizations of interest to you. It’s the connections of your connections that provides power.

Let’s say for example, that you’re interested in working for Acme Technologies, a growing tech firm, as a software developer. You discover that the Vice President of Product Development is on LinkedIn. In fact, she is a 2nd level connection to you. That means, that you and the VP share a connection — a 1st level, or direct, connection to both of you.

You can now reach out (preferably by phone) to the mutual connection and ask for an introduction to the VP of Acme who is more likely to want to talk with you if someone she knows has referred you…People hire people they know, or people they know know.

You should never have to make a cold call again. Get someone you know to reach out on your behalf to someone you are both connected to.

So, how about you? How are you using LinkedIn? Are you making your connections work for you?


Networking made easy by Scott Woodard – March 23, 2015

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

NetworkingWhen people are asked about the hardest part of the job search process, most say, without hesitation, “networking.”

We know that we need to connect with others in the job search. We’ve heard that “people hire people they know, or people they know know — referrals.” Yet we break out in a sweat when we think of reaching out to people we don’t know and ask them for help.

Networking just seems such a huge barrier to success. We can’t imagine going to networking events, meeting strangers and asking them for help in our search. We’d rather stick pins in our eyes.

That’s why Heart At Work Associates created Networking Made Easy for our clients and their guests. Each month, we host an invitation only event in our office and facilitate connections among the participants. At our last event, the 10 participants shared over 50 connections and offers for introductions. The energy in the room was electric, and it wasn’t fueled by the homemade chocolate chip cookies we provided.

My colleagues — Barbara Babkirk and Amy Jaffe — and I facilitated the event. We talked briefly about the importance of a statement of professional value that you can articulate verbally, virtually and in writing. We gave everyone time to draft their initial statement, focusing on their current situation, what they brought in terms of skills and value, and what they were looking for. We worked with participants to help them craft their statements; and we had everyone write their name and contact information on six index cards.

Amy then led the group in an exercise where each participant introduced themselves and presented their statement. Some of us asked a few clarifying questions, then if we had a lead, we wrote it on one of the index cards and gave it to the presenter. After everyone had presented their statement and collected their cards, they had the opportunity to talk with the participants who had provided the information. A number of folks collected several cards with several names as potential leads. And often, they had the commitment of an introduction from the source of the lead.

The final part of the evening stressed follow through and accountability. Once again, we went around the room and each participant stated specific actions they would take in the next week with the information they received that evening.

At the end of the evening, people were excited to get started. In a supported, dynamic, two hour session they met people just like them; they were able to provide leads for their new contacts; receive leads themselves; and have an action plan to take advantage of those leads.

Networking doesn’t get much easier. And there were cookies.



The right way to network by Barbara Babkirk – March 21, 2015

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

bigstock-Social-Collaboration-73758367“Networking”—it’s an overused and widely misunderstood “must do” job search strategy these days.

Anyone who is looking for a job has probably heard that most open positions are not advertised in traditional ways and the key to any successful job search is “networking”. After all, we’re told, “people hire people they know, or people who are referred to them by people they know.” So networking carries a lot of weight in today’s job search strategies.

But, what does that really mean? I’ll bet that everyone has their own assumptions about it, but I’m also sure that most versions come up short in their ultimate impact and effectiveness. At Heart At Work Associates, we encourage our clients to “network” in the best way that suits their personalities. We do stress that networking is a process, not an event; and that there are some critical factors you must follow however you decide to network.

First you must build relationships. Relationships need to be reciprocal. That is, you need to be prepared to give as well as take. In fact, giving assistance is more important than receiving it. Be prepared to help new people you meet in your networking, rather than ask for help from the start.

Second, relationships need to be nurtured. That means that you don’t just connect with someone new, obtain their business card, and move on. You need to engage them and follow up. Check in with your new contact on a regular basis. Send out an personal email once a quarter or so, checking in on their progress and offer any help you can provide.

Third, don’t just “network” when you need a job or when you need help from your contacts. If you do, your effort will be viewed as entirely one-sided.

In the “what not to do when you’re networking” category, I’ll recount a recent experience at a professional gathering.

The first person I met was a young woman who introduced herself as a life coach (but it could have been any occupation). When I asked her to explain (hoping for a description of her target client or how she approached her work), her response was a rote sounding “elevator speech”. Her lack of strategy was evident when she didn’t even ask about my work!

I came away from the one-way interaction unclear about what she actually offered and was turned off by her lack of spontaneity and interest in me.

Whether the person across from you is a stranger or a longtime colleague, effective networking involves a two-way conversation. When done well, networking blends attentive listening with appropriate questions.

When you make the conversation more about the other person than about you, you’re more apt to engage the person you’ve just met.

We’ve all been “taken hostage” by someone who drones on about himself or laments about the difficult time they’re having finding a job. Don’t follow their example.

Be aware of what you’re doing and saying and notice the body language of the person with whom you’re speaking. You’ll see if you are boring them and if so, move on or shift the topic back to them.

Be strategic when you network! Think about the particular networking opportunity beforehand—imagine why others are attending and create relevant questions that will engage people in a conversation.

Meaningful connections are memorable in a positive way—just the impression you want to cultivate in your job search.

Are you remarkable? by Scott Woodard – March 12, 2015

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

be_remarkable-300x109Are you a fan of TED Talks, the videos that showcase “Ideas Worth Spreading”? I love them. In under 20 minutes you can watch some really smart people talk about key ideas.

One of my favorite TED Talks is by marketing guru, Seth Godin speaking about “Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights.” In this video, Godin notes how marketing has changed: Interrupting people to get their attention doesn’t work any longer, because we just don’t care. We have too many choices, too little time. What worked for the “TV Industrial Complex” — mass marketing that brought average products to average people — is no longer viable. The key is to reach people who care with things that are remarkable.

This concept applies to one’s job search as well. Broadcasting (mass mailing) our resumes to potential employers is ineffective. Employers don’t care. They have too many choices, not enough time.

We need to be remarkable to those that care.

We need to figure out what people (employers) want and give it to them. And we need to be remarkable, because being very good is just average.

Are you remarkable? Can you identify your professional value and articulate it in such a way as to be remarkable for an employer who cares?

Often, when our clients get frustrated with their job search, one of the first things they want to do is develop a resume like the one they had before. One that looks like everyone else’s. One that is average. The second thing they do is to quit networking — quit looking for people who care. Instead, they only apply to posted positions on job boards or company websites. This is not being remarkable. It’s being average. Employers don’t care about average; they don’t have time for average.

Remarkable is getting in front of the people who make decisions in the companies you’re interested in working for. Remarkable is listening to what their problems are and developing solutions for them. Remarkable is that you are the solution.

Is being remarkable easy? Of course not. If it was is wouldn’t be remarkable, it would be average. So this is hard work. It requires clarity and focus: How am I remarkable? Why am I remarkable? It requires diligence and strategy: Who cares that I’m remarkable? How do I reach them?

So be remarkable. Find out who cares. Figure out what they want and give it to them.

Over to you: How are you remarkable? Can you tell how to those people who care?


How To Maximize Your Summer Job Search

Friday, July 13th, 2012

It’s no secret these days that strategic conversations (loosely called “networking”) are key to a successful job search. The more people you meet, the more you increase your chances of hearing about job opportunities.

While it’s true that people may be more difficult to reach during the traditional vacation months of July and August, it’s also true that summer gatherings provide increased opportunities to connect with a host of people you would not normally see.

So don’t abandon your job search when the weather calls for shorts and tees. Rather, think about how you’ll take advantage of situations that put you in front of people who could be key resources and would make networking easier than usual.

Too often, job seekers avoid social gatherings where they might be asked what they are up to, or feared more, what type of position they are seeking.

The line “I’m working on that” is second only to “I don’t know” in the worst response category because neither fosters an opportunity for you to explore ideas or request an introduction to someone who might further your search.

Instead, be ready with a thoughtful response that names your skills and the type of work environment you desire, rather than a job title. Then ask for suggestions about a good fit for you in the marketplace.

If the person with whom you are speaking has ideas that seem like good options to investigate, you might explore whether or not he or she is willing to introduce you to someone in that line of work.

If you adopt this approach to your summer job search, you’ll be prepared for any opportunity that presents itself around a barbeque grill or beach party.

Think As Though You’re Going To Lose Your Job

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

That’s the advice of Bob Kelleher, President of The Employee Engagement Group, and an authority on staying focused and connected on the job.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to think of exiting your job as a way of becoming more engaged with it, I think Kelleher is onto something.

When you are not aware of the options beyond your current position or worse still, convinced that no one else would hire you, you begin to feel hemmed in and frustrated—as though you’re not in control of your career.

These feelings can lead to apathy toward your job. The resulting behavior can affect your performance and ultimately put you in jeopardy of losing your job.

On the other hand, when you begin to consider the career options beyond your current job, assess your marketable skills, and update your professional portfolio, you may begin to feel more empowered—even to the point that you develop a renewed appreciation of your current position!

Here are four steps to consider that may increase your engagement with your job while being prepared for future opportunities:

  1. Recognize your talents, abilities and skills as well as the personal traits that make you valuable to an employer and give you an edge in the marketplace. For help with this, you might visit
  2. Clearly communicate what you have to offer with current strategies: create a winning resume and Linkedin profile, using up to date language and eye-catching formatting. (Consult a career counselor with legitimate credentials, rather than an on-line service with no way to track who’s giving you advice.)
  3. Begin to initiate “strategic” conversations with professionals whose work requires similar skills, but in different organizations or industries. In the process, you’ll begin to see where your skills are transferable.
  4. Regularly take stock of your life and work priorities. Think about the ways in which your current work aligns with them, giving you a greater sense of meaning and value.

Heart At Work Associates offers career counseling and outplacement services for your life stage in Portland, Maine and globally.

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