Networking Tree

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.
Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information on how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

Cultivate your network and watch it grow!

reading!

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The best present of all

the greatest gift of all

the greatest gift of all

Be open to the present! “How to create unexpected opportunities”

With Black Friday signaling the upcoming holidays, it’s easy to start worrying about the job market in the New Year or reminiscing about how your job search efforts went in the past. While it’s hard to keep your mind in the present, you may miss potential job prospects.

It’s sounds like a paradox but you need to construct unexpected career opportunities. This concept is summed up in what John D. Krumboltz calls “Planned Happenstance.”

As an example of this theory, Krumboltz uses the story of high-powered professional sports agent, Leigh Steinberg. You remember the movie Jerry McGuire? Well, it’s based on Leigh’s life and career, most of which he chalks up to “pure, random chance.” But was it really random? Did he in fact manufacture his future career, albeit unknowingly, through a series of circumstances and choices?

In an interview Leigh recounts how it all started while attending the University of California at Berkeley while studying environmental law in the early 70’s. As luck would have it a freshman football team moved into his dormitory and after befriending several students he ended up eventually representing Steve Bartkowski, at his request, in contract negotiations with the Atlanta Falcons and well the rest as they say is history…. If you look closely at Leigh’s story you’ll realize that what happened wasn’t really “pure, random chance” but a set of circumstances that Leigh choose to act on, setting aside his own fears, he grabbed the opportunity before him.

You’re probably asking yourself how do I create these types of opportunities? Well, first you’ll need to develop 5 important skills:

Curiosity
Explore new learning opportunities. Take a course, try a new idea talk to insiders you would never have talked to before.

Persistence
Even when things get hard you need to re-exert your efforts and try again.

Flexibility
With emerging technology and changes in the workplace you need to adapt. For example, if a strategy in your job-search isn’t working, change your tactics.

Optimism
You need to keep positive and believe that you can attain your goals.

Risk-taking
Take a page from Leigh and go for something even if it’s risky, sometimes it’s in the process of trying that opportunities happen.

Now you’ll be able to say “show me the money!” sooner than you think!

Elaine Logie is an Employment Advisor at the Career Foundation and frequent MCACESBlogger. MCACESBlogs is series of posts aimed at helping job seekers with their respective paths. Be sure to follow our blog today!

EEEEEK! Are you a scary Networker?!?!?!

Ever wonder how you come across to others while networking? Don’t you wish you could take a potion and become a network sorcerer or wizard, the likes of which has never been seen? Maybe a little eye of newt or wing of bat will do the trick? Well probably not…thankfully networking doesn’t require magic; just a few simple tricks to keep you from being one of the creatures that go bump in the night!

Frankenstein
Speaking of bumping …try not to network like you’re all thumbs and awkward to boot! So how do you avoid dropping your drink on a company CEO or inadvertently elbowing a server? If possible go to the event venue early before the crowds, look around, check out the guest list and then come back later. It helps to know your surroundings so you’ll feel more comfortable, plus nothings worse then not being able to find the washroom.

Mummy

What kind of scary networker are you?

What kind of scary networker are you?


You’ve finally got a chance to chat with an important contact, when suddenly the conversation starts to unravel, what do you do? Easy! Rise to the challenge and ask them about an upcoming trend in their field. You’ll show them you’re not ancient but on top of the latest information while gaining valuable insight into their opinions to better tailor your marketing strategy. Plus, everyone feels flattered when you take a genuine interest in his or her thoughts.

Vampire
Don’t suck the life out of a room! Pause between breathes and allow your other networkers to speak, it’s often in the pauses that “real” information can be gathered. Good listening skills show others that you have consideration for their ideas and opinions.

Zombie
It’s true that most people go to networking events to pick each other people’s brains but don’t go overboard and treat it like a buffet! Gently ask people questions, your not interrogating a helpless subject but sharing valuable information. Remember conversations are a two-way street, plus by sharing you’ll show others you’re not just out for yourself.

Ghost
Hey wallflower…yeah I’m talking to you! Try not to shrink away from the crowds and disappear into the scenery. If it helps take a friend, even if they aren’t really there to network they can offer some moral support… just don’t hang on them for dear life!

Now that you’ve tricked yourself into not focusing on the horrors of networking, the chances it’ll be a treat instead. Happy Halloween!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and MCACESBlogs blogger. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts, tips and musings for job seekers and their respective networks. Follow our blog and be less scared of the job search process. Happy reading! Happy Halloween!

The one thing you should be thankful for…

As the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, we lethargically dust ourselves off, find a forgiving pair of pants and go back to the daily grind of life.

What does your life entail? It could be a turkey pot pie of work, family, education, volunteering …and all of those layers in between.

We forge on, back to old habits, seemingly managing routines without giving conscious thought to who we’ve become, how we got there, and how the hell we’re going to fit back into our normal clothes.

If you’re reading this post, I encourage you to pause for a moment.

Pause, and give thanks to the MVPs within your network.

“How do I do that?”

Think about your accomplishments as well as your failures. Who has been there for you? For the wins? The losses? Both?

Your MVPS can be anyone–a sibling, an educator, supervisor, mentor or friend.

Give thanks to these key players in your life.

These are the people who believed in you long before you believed in yourself.

“What if it’s been a long time? I feel awkward!”

Know that taking quality time out of your chaos to acknowledge others is almost always welcome.

Expressing gratitude takes a minimal amount of time and hardly costs any money. And, by doing so, you are setting a fantastic example for your peers.

A phone call, email, text message, written note—in the time it takes you to heat up leftovers, you can thank a network MVP.

So, with that said, it’s time to practice what I’ve been preaching!

Twelve years ago to this day, two very special people took a chance on me. In spite of my protests, I began a job that many thought should not have been created in the first place.

From these two amazing women, I learned many things. Most important, I learned to the power of internal strength—the courage to stand up for what I felt strongly about, and the poise to do so with diplomacy.

Thank you for being my MVPs.

Without you, I’d be a turkey without any gravy or stuffing.

Lidia Siino’s background is in career development, communications, adult learning and facilitation. With a Diploma in Journalism and Certificates in Career Consultant, Workplace Leadership and Teaching the Adult Learner programs through Mohawk College, she enjoys teaching these topics to adult learners.
She has spent over 12 years as an Employment and Communications Specialist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students.
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How would you rate your professional correspondence skills?

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Take this quick quiz to find out!

1. I get an angry email from a professional nemesis in response to a simple request.

A)    I forward the email to all my friends, highlighting the jerky parts; I then invite them to make nasty comments.

B)    I take a moment to write back then place the email in my draft folder, returning to it an hour or so later to reread it before officially replying.

2.  I use my iphone or other personal electronic device in responding to hiring managers. 

A)   Yeah why not! I can multitask while I’m waiting in line for coffee.

B)    No, I don’t use my personal devices to answer important contacts. “The medium is the message” and I’m more likely to answer in a tone that’s way too casual.

3. When I email someone, I then follow up with a phone call to make sure they got the original email I sent.

A)    You never know with email, it’s good to follow up with a phone call a few hours later then show at the person’s office to make sure they got the phone call and keep showing up until they agree to finally to see me.

B)    When sending the original email, I made it clear the exact reason for the email and how a follow-up would be conducted if I don’t receive a response back within a reasonable amount of time.

4. I invite an employer I’m interested in to become a linkedin contact without a message as to why or how I know them.

A)    Why not? Linkedin is like Facebook the more the merrier!

B)    I make sure that I write a clear message as to why I’m contacting them (the more personal the better, maybe I could mention that I saw them at a conference or networking event) and if they agree I respond immediately with a sincere thank you.

5. After sending my resume, I email the employer several times to make sure they got it.

A)    It’s probably a good idea since I have a Hotmail account and it regularly goes into people’s spam folders.

B)    No I don’t email, I don’t want to waste an employer’s time and give them the impression that I can’t follow simple instructions.

6. When I drop off my resume (for an unlisted job) and I don’t get a call back in a few days from the manager, I

A)    Assume that they must have hated my guts!

B)    Call them up (making sure to get their name when I dropped by) to see if they actually received it. I’ll have my elevator pitch ready if they have any questions or send another resume in case it wasn’t received.

7. When I attach my resume through email I simply name the file “resume”

A)    Of course, that’s a no-brainer! They know what they’re getting as long as I include the position title in my cover letter.

B)    I include my name and the position title as the file name. HR reps often get resumes for many different jobs, this way mine won’t get lost in the shuffle.

 8. When my resume goes onto two pages, I include the page number on each page.

A)    That sounds like a good idea! It’ll keep things organized.

B)    Instead of page numbers, which are more suitable for essays or reports, I include the same header (with my name and contact info) on each page in case the pages get separated.

9. When composing my cover letter, I address it  “Dear Sir or Madame”

A)    If I don’t have the employers name this makes the most sense.

B)    Whenever possible I try to get the person’s name by looking it up online or calling the company. When in doubt, I can address it to the “Hiring Manager or Hiring Supervisor” this sounds more professional and less like a form letter.

10. After I finish an interview, I write a thank you text to show my appreciation. 

A)    A thank you text would be really appreciated and show an employer that I’m technologically savvy.

B)    Texts are way too informal for a potential employer! Instead I’ll write a thank you card/letter or thank them through a carefully composed email. 

If you answered mostly: 

A) Yeah you guessed it you’re a caveman correspondent and are most likely to take the easier route or let your emotions rule the show!

B) Congratulations you are a professional writing genius! You show amazing tact, restraint and business know-how.

Eeeeeck! Are you a scary networker?

What kind of scary networker are you?

What kind of scary networker are you?

Ever wonder how you come across to others while networking? Don’t you wish you could take a potion and become a network sorcerer or wizard, the likes of which has never been seen? Maybe a little eye of newt or wing of bat will do the trick? Well probably not…thankfully networking doesn’t require magic; just a few simple tricks to keep you from being one of the creatures that go bump in the night!

Frankenstein

Speaking of bumping …try not to network like you’re all thumbs and awkward to boot!  So how do you avoid dropping your drink on a company CEO or inadvertently elbowing a server? If possible go to the event venue early before the crowds, look around, check out the guest list and then come back later. It helps to know your surroundings so you’ll feel more comfortable, plus nothings worse then not being able to find the washroom.

Mummy

You’ve finally got a chance to chat with an important contact, when suddenly the conversation starts to unravel, what do you do? Easy! Rise to the challenge and ask them about an upcoming trend in their field. You’ll show them you’re not ancient but on top of the latest information while gaining valuable insight into their opinions to better tailor your marketing strategy. Plus, everyone feels flattered when you take a genuine interest in his or her thoughts.

 Vampire

Don’t suck the life out of a room! Pause between breathes and allow your other networkers to speak, it’s often in the pauses that “real” information can be gathered. Good listening skills show others that you have consideration for their ideas and opinions.

 Zombie

It’s true that most people go to networking events to pick each other people’s brains but don’t go overboard and treat it like a buffet! Gently ask people questions, your not interrogating a helpless subject but sharing valuable information. Remember conversations are a two-way street, plus by sharing you’ll show others you’re not just out for yourself.

Ghost

Hey wallflower…yeah I’m talking to you! Try not to shrink away from the crowds and disappear into the scenery. If it helps take a friend, even if they aren’t really there to network they can offer some moral support… just don’t hang on them for dear life!

Now that you’ve tricked yourself into not focusing on the horrors of networking, the chances it’ll be a treat instead. Happy Halloween!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College and MCACESBlogs blogger. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts, tips and musings for job seekers and their respective networks. Follow our blog and be less scared of the job search process. Happy reading! Happy Halloween!