Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Networking to a Job - Practical Advice

For some reason over the past week, I've been asked by three different people I know about job opportunities that might fit them. Since, I've given them the same advice, I thought it was worth putting in my blog.

I personally believe that the best way to hire, find partners, and find a job is through a network. So the key question is:
How can I leverage my network?
One Page Networking Tool

One of the best things I've seen done by a person doing a search was to provide folks he knew with a one pager that roughly contained:
  • Background - two sentences
  • Job Sought - two sentences
  • Company Characteristics - geography, size, industry, etc.
  • Companies - a list of 25 companies that fit the bill.
The experience was interesting for me. It was an in-person meeting. I read the first three pieces of information and was trying to think of how I could help him.

When I got to the list of companies, the dynamic was completely different. I had 3 contacts I could immediately point him to that would give him the lay of the land at that company and in one case might had an opportunity. I also could then think of a few more people he should talk to and companies he should consider.

I went from being frustrated that I wasn't helping to pretty helpful based on this list.

How do you create the list? Consider using Hoovers if you are targeting larger, established companies. Or look at funding activity if you are considering start-ups.

Likely you'll have a few different types of positions/companies you are targeting. Make a different one pager for each.

Also, likely you'll have a lot more than 25 companies. Don't make the list too long. Make it your top 25 where you think there will be opportunity.

Work Your Network

Once you have your one pager ready, I'd definitely use LinkedIn to see who I can already find. Based on your description, and target companies, chances are you'll be able to reach quite a few people already in those organizations. Most of them will be pretty receptive to someone who is looking to network to "get help on next steps in my career." It's probably better to ask for help that way than to say "help on a job search."

If you are successful reaching into some of your Top 25, take them off the list. And then circulate a request to everyone you know asking if they could help you. Again, LinkedIn has been good for me to remember who I should contact with these kinds of things. Send the one pager once people offer to help or get together to go through the one pager together. Note: it's often best if people dedicate the time to think through the list with you, but you probably want them in front of a computer so they can look up names real-time.

I'm sure other folks have ideas on this topic. If you have thoughts that might be helpful, please leave a comment.

1 comment:

JoAnna said...

Hey, Tony -- I'm excited that you'll be participating in the Startup LA event at UCLA later this month. I'll be moderating that panel. Let's keep in touch!