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Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Cash, Clients, and Career Success

Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Cash, Clients, and Career Success

by Anne Baber, Lynne Waymon

"Setting up a network of contacts is the single most important thing people can do to protect and advance their careers. All businesspeople, no matter what they do for a living, can use networking know-how to reach their goals, and this book is the best place to start. Filled with quizzes, checklists, and sample conversations, the book opens with a Strategic


"Setting up a network of contacts is the single most important thing people can do to protect and advance their careers. All businesspeople, no matter what they do for a living, can use networking know-how to reach their goals, and this book is the best place to start. Filled with quizzes, checklists, and sample conversations, the book opens with a Strategic Networking Activities self-assessment test and lets readers chart their increasing skills as they master the strategies needed to effectively build business relationships.

Readers will learn how to avoid the Top 20 Networking Turn-offs, create a workplace contact map, and build strategic alliances. In addition, they'll master the Six Stages of Networking, as well as how to make the most of corporate events and memberships. By the time readers are done, not only will they be able to meet people more easily, but they'll also know how to remember their new contacts' names and follow up effectively! This book is the blueprint to follow for anyone trying to position themselves for career advancement or sales success."

Editorial Reviews

Business Woman Magazine
Networking is more than how many business cards you can collect at one event-- it's about maximizing the professional relationships. This book gives you the lowdown on just how to do that.
Business Ledger
This is definitive book on person to person networking. It is a complete methodology, i.e., step-by-step "cookbook", on how to network.
Central New York Business Journal
...well written and very compelling...If you read this book, you will be dusting off your "meeting suit.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Older Edition
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Make Your Contacts Count

By Anne Barber Lynne Waymon


Copyright © 2002 Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7093-9

Chapter One

Jump-Start Your Job Hunt

"Looking for work is the hardest job I've ever had," says Renata. When her company merged, she was told that her position was "excess." Renata is right. Job hunting is tough.

"It's hard to admit it, but I'd been in the wrong career for fourteen years," confides Roger. "The longer I stayed, the harder it was to leave. I was adding more and more accomplishments to my résumé, but I found my job satisfaction dwindling day by day. I hated Mondays ... and Tuesdays ... and Wednesdays ... and the rest of the week, too!" Roger finally decided to work with a career coach to completely reassess his interests, skills, and values. Changing careers, especially while you're still in the old one, is a challenge.

Whether you choose to change, are laid off, opt for an early out and want to continue working, are reentering the job market, are moving from a military to a civilian career, or are seeking your first job, being out of work is a serious assault on your self-esteem. In our society, some people mistakenly think that what you do is who you are.

Renata and Roger made their job hunts easier by using their network of personal and professional contacts to devise search strategies, meet new career contacts, and support them through the ups and downs of change. You can too.

In this chapter, you'll learn about trends in today's workplace that make networking the way to job hunt. You'll get inside tips for dealing with special job-searching circumstances. You'll discover effective strategies for researching new career directions using your network. Finally, you'll find the ten top tactics for networking the right way when you're looking for work or changing careers.

Whatever is triggering your job search, you're probably already convinced that networking will help you find a new job.

But do you realize that the length of your job search is directly related to the strength of your network as you begin to job hunt?

The length of your job search is directly connected to the strength of your network.

Networking know-how is by far the greatest advantage you can have in today's job market. Investing time and energy in building your circle of contacts will bring you current information on jobs and trends in your field, resources and services that you need in order to conduct your job search, and the support of friends when the going gets rough.

Unfortunately, when it comes to reaping the benefits of networking, most job hunters are "standin' in the river, dyin' of thirst," as the old saying goes. All around them are people who have information, resources, and support. Knowing how to drink from the river will allow you, the job hunter, to become a job holder-quickly and with a lot less trauma.

If You're One of the Working Worried

Begin today to strengthen your personal safety net. Most of us will have three to five distinctly different careers in our lifetimes and a dozen or more different jobs. We'll take the initiative to make half of those job changes; the rest will be the result of various kinds of organizational shake-ups. That means that your network should always be ready. Network before you need to. Start now.

In today's uncertain economic climate-with all its mergers, downsizing, and reorganizations-you never know when you are really going to need your business contacts.

"I used to call Fran every once in a while to ask her if she'd like to be my guest at the professional association I belong to," says Liz. "She was always too busy to go. Then one day she called me to say that her job had been eliminated. She was in a panic. 'I hardly know anyone in Cincinnati,' she said. 'Tell me who I need to get to know to begin looking for a new job. I'm so sorry that I didn't make time to go to the professional association meetings. I realize now how important it is to know people and to stay in touch.'"

Don't make the mistake Fran did. Fran didn't realize that you've got to dig your well before you're thirsty. Networking is a process, not an event. It takes many months to cultivate a bountiful network. Not every attempt to reach out succeeds. Yet, over time, with enough seeds planted and enough attention and patience, your crop of contacts will yield what you need: a tip about a job opening before it's advertised or an expert's insights regarding trends in your industry that make you aware of new ways to apply your expertise.

Your network is you safety net. Make sure it's in place before you need it.

If You've Been Laid Off

"We're all out of work; we just haven't received the pink slip yet," says Gary. That's a healthy attitude to have in today's volatile marketplace. William Bridges, author of JobShift, points out that although we grew up believing in long-term jobs, to thrive in the new workplace we must give up the idea of having a job.

"Today's worker will do a job, not have a job," says Bridges. That's a tough, but true, message for most Americans who have assumed that their jobs were secure. Our interviews with people who have lost their jobs show that 80 percent of people who are laid off are surprised-and therefore unprepared. With an "I'm here forever" mindset, no wonder they haven't created a protective network.

Bob's job was eliminated when the telecommunications company he worked for merged with a larger firm. He says, "After the shock of losing my job wore off, I realized that I didn't have a network! I'd been so busy at work that I'd stopped going to professional meetings and had lost touch with old friends. It took me about six months of concentrated work to build my network. I think of it as a vast communications network that brings me ideas, leads, and support. Now it's just a matter of time before the right job comes zinging across my 'wires.' In the meantime, I've met some wonderful people, picked up a few consulting jobs to tide me over financially, and vowed that I'll never be without the safety net of a strong network again."

Unfortunately, the worst time to begin networking is when you're unemployed. But, like Bob, you can do it.

Here are some special tips to help you get going.

Beware the "information interview." When your coauthor Anne worked for a large corporation, she frequently got calls from people who were job hunting in Kansas City. Often, they'd say that they didn't expect her to be hiring any new staff right then, but they just wanted to make an appointment to come to her office to talk with her about her job and the field of corporate communications in general. Some job-hunting books and career counselors advise this approach, calling it "information interviewing."

The problem we have with these interviews is that you, the job hunter, are expected to hide your Agenda. You do want to find a job, and, at the very least, you hope that your contact can refer you to someone who is hiring.

Anne's usual response was a tough one, but realistic. She'd say, "My company doesn't pay me to talk to you during my work day about my job or your job hunt." Then, to soften the blow of that much candor (and because she did want to be helpful), she would invite the caller to attend her professional organization's monthly luncheon. She'd tell the caller that she'd talk with him there and also make sure that he met other professionals. "That way, you'll have a chance to meet and gather information from several people," she would say.

Information interviewing is a great idea, but, be creative about when and where you do these interviews. You can interview people about their jobs anywhere. Talk to people at a party, in your carpool, at your kid's soccer game, at a convention, at a training session. Don't assume that they can take time away from their job duties or donate their company's time to talk with you.

Go public with your job search. "I invited four job hunters who had called me for information interviews to attend a luncheon meeting of my professional organization," Anita remembers. "As we all sat around the table, I decided to perform an experiment. I thought I'd wait to see how long it took for people to reveal what was uppermost in their minds-to mention that they were job hunting. Minutes passed. People talked about the Caesar salad, the pink tablecloths-even the weather!

"Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I said, 'You are all here because you are job hunting.' After a short, uncomfortable few seconds, they owned up to their purpose in coming to the luncheon. Even then, it didn't occur to them to trade experiences or contacts or to talk about job-hunting strategy. They just plain weren't comfortable with sharing what they wanted or needed with others.

"There's a happy ending. With a bit of encouragement, they did trade information, strategies, and even leads (with some prompting from me), and I heard from two of them the following week. After following up on some ideas from their peers, those two had come up with job interviews."

The moral of this story: Often people talk about everything except what's really on their minds. They worry that if they say what they are really thinking about, they may be manipulating others or may seem to be too needy. Actually, the opposite is true. By keeping their job-hunting Agendas hidden, they make everyone uncomfortable. As you learn to see others as job-hunting resources, you'll get comfortable with making more meaningful contact-contact that can benefit both you and the person or people that you're talking with.

Network with people who care about you. Start with your family. Even people who have known you for years-your own relatives, for example-may not be aware of the details of your successes. Did you graduate with honors? Have you been recognized by your professional association? Have you achieved professional certification or accreditation? Have you been steadily promoted? Have you been recognized for specific on-the-job contributions? Provide a résumé that lists your accomplishments.

When Richard, a computer programmer, was laid off, he sat down with his mother-in-law, Jill, and showed her his résumé, answering the questions she had as she read through it. The next day, Jill had lunch with a friend who worked in a bank and mentioned Richard's success in programming customer service information. A week later, the bank called to ask Richard to apply for an opening.

Tap the experience of the experienced. As we interviewed more than two hundred people for our Fireproofing Your Career Workshops, we were astounded to hear again and again from people who had been laid off that "nobody ever asked me for my advice." Ask. Get the low-down on severance pay, benefits continuation, unemployment insurance, relationships with previous employers, interviewing tips (how are you going to answer the question, "Why did you leave Consolidated?"), tide-you-over consulting, and a host of other topics. Put the previously laid off at the top of your list of people to contact.

Go for diversity and numbers. Imagine that you want to find a job in sales. Your background is in computer technologies and medical equipment. Make a list of everybody you know.

Look at your list. At this point, everyone is a potential source of information, resources, support, and referral. Yes, include Uncle Harry, even though you only see him at Thanksgiving and he's been retired for five years. Yes, include your neighbor down the street with whom you trade tools every once in a while. Yes, include the instructor of that sales course you took recently.

No matter what her age, profession, interest, or place in the hierarchy, each person you know is important. The more diverse your network, the better. Uncle Harry might refer you to someone he mentored who has a friend in sales. Your neighbor's brother may have just been laid off, too, and you might decide to share strategies and support. The instructor of your sales course might tell you about an upcoming convention of medical equipment salespeople.

Although there is no "right" number of people for your network, as a job hunter, you need to expand and reach out much more than people who are employed do. If a network of 50 people will provide good support and protection for someone who has a job, you need to set your sights on 250 or more to speed your job hunt.

Pay attention to what you have to give. When Jim went to a professional meeting of trainers and consultants, he was hoping to learn more about the field and to meet people. But he felt that, as an unemployed person, he was at a disadvantage. When he tuned into the quiet side of networking and really listened, however, he found that he was able to contribute a lot. Talking with Sheila, he mentioned his upcoming interview for a training job with a company that helps executives learn how to operate in the global marketplace. Sheila's eyes lit up as she told him about looking for buyers for her new book on etiquette for executives who work abroad. Jim gave her the name of his contact at the company. Giving restored some of his battered self-esteem and made him feel more confident and capable about his worth in the marketplace.

Stay involved. When you are paring expenses to the bone, it's tempting to cut out membership dues to various organizations. Don't do it. Don't say, "I'm unemployed. I can't afford the money." You could be cutting off your lifeline to job information, job banks, informative programs that increase your expertise and employability, and good contacts.

Target your search. The best job searches are narrowly targeted. You may have several targets, but each one should be very specific. Deanna decided that she wanted her next job to be in one of two roles. Here's what she let people in her network know about her:

"I can design and deliver beginning and advanced word processing training." Or:

"I can manage a word processing center-and its staff-efficiently and effectively."

Deal effectively with "overqualification." Lois had been job hunting for about seven months and was getting discouraged. When she did have an interview, she usually was told that she was overqualified. She finally figured out that the word overqualified meant that she expected too high a title and salary. She revised her résumé to deemphasize her previous title and play up her problem-solving abilities. In her next interview, when the question of salary came up, she said, "I'm sure we will be able to figure something out, because I am the right person to tackle this job."

Once she convinced the organization of the contribution she could make, she negotiated a one-year consulting arrangement at a higher salary than the one listed on the job description.

Ask for the right things. Saying to people, "I need a job" doesn't usually result in a good connection.


Excerpted from Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Barber Lynne Waymon Copyright © 2002 by Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Anne Baber (Lenexa, KS) and Lynne Waymon (Silver Spring, MD) are nationally known experts and speakers on business networking. Their previous books include Great Connections: Small Talk and Networking for Businesspeople and How to Fireproof Your Career.

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