Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Katy's Soapbox: Networking

I try to keep my blog light. However, every now and again I feel compelled to jump on my soap box and share something that irks me.

Today's topic: networking.

I still keep in touch several professional contacts I respect very much. I had mentioned to one of my contacts a few months ago that I "owe him" for all the good feedback and recommendations he's given me over the years. Since he's a busy guy, I encouraged him to send me any young, hungry marketing or communications professionals or students who want to network or get some good advice.

Earlier this month, I agreed to meet up with a recent grad (Marketing) to discuss her career. After all, I am eternally grateful for the many professionals who met with me when I was a college student -- many of which I'm still in touch with today. I feel inclined to spend some time with young professionals and recent grads because I remember how tough it was to meet people and find jobs.

So the recent grad was perfectly nice, albeit a little clueless about what one does at an informational interview. Of course an informational interview means that there's not a job opening -- but it's a chance for a job seeker to make a good impression on a working professional. Informational interviews are a great way to add people to your network who may have job openings in the future or fantastic other connections to introduce you to. It's also an opportunity to explain your strengths, talents, interests, aspirations and more.

So based on how that convo went, I've compiled a list of informational interview "musts..."

People, for informational interviews, please, I beg of you:
  • Bring your resume to the conversation (for both discussion and for critique)
  • Bring your portfolio (even if you don't have professional writing, project management or design experience, your classwork is still a good read on your style and work quality)
  • Spend more time asking questions of the person who agreed to meet you versus talking about yourself (you'll get more leverage out of these conversations if you seem interested in the person you're meeting's career; in other words, flattery goes a long way)
  • Write some interview questions out before you meet ("What's your career path been up to this point?" "What do you enjoy most about your job?" "What suggestions would you offer a recent grad?")
  • Know what you're looking for in your next job
  • Take notes during your conversation (If I tell you the name of some companies to look up or resources to check out, act like you care and plan to research them)
  • WRITE THE PROFESSIONAL WHO TOOK TIME TO MEET UP WITH YOU A FREAKING THANK YOU NOTE (preferably handwritten, but e-mail is better than nothing... I'm still waiting on mine)

Follow these tips and you'll keep from looking like a total goober. Who knows? Maybe you'll impress someone.



The Orkins said...

Oh Katy - I feel your pain, and am considering deleting my LinkedIn profile so I don't have to deal with people wanting to "have coffee".

One MBA from my alma mater emailed me and asked for some time to talk about the firm where I work. We set up a time, and I called him at designated time. I always start work conversations with "Is now still a good time?" - figuring that since this guy requested a specific time, it would be...ha! I was wrong. He asked to call me back in an hour.

We visited for a bit and he was asking me if he should go into IBanking or consulting. I am sorry, but I am not career services. Sure, I can tell you about where I work and my opinions, but you need to figure out what you want to do.

Anyway, 3 months later, he emailed me his resume to review. Still have not opened the email.

If you are asking me for help, please be prepared!

Kb_Mal said...

Craziness, right? It's almost like some people think they deserve a favor (even as a complete stranger).

I am all about paying it forward but that's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

This cracked me up - I'm honestly not surprised that people do these things unfortunately. My soapbox is about actual job-hunting. If you want a job, don't have your parents call to ask about it!! Yep, true story I'm sorry to say. When I was in a position involving hiring, I actually had someone's mother call me about a job for their child (and no, this wasn't for a teenager - it was a professional position requiring at least a bachelor's degree). Needless to say, that resume went straight into the trash :)

Kb_Mal said...

Traci! Nooooo! aw man!

I guess I have something similar. After a colleague of mine's wife got laid off, I heard him making phone calls (pitching her to people he knows). Why couldn't she call and introduce herself?

Traci said...

I agree that it would make a much better impression if the woman called people herself. I could understand if the guy mentioned it to people he knew in the course of a conversation, but not specifically calling everyone to ask for a job for his wife. I suppose maybe he (and the person's mother who called me!) simply thought he was being helpful :)