Setting up job search networking meetings

by 22 Feb, 2016Career Planning, Job Search, Job Search Networking0 comments

Setting up job search networking meetings

The setting up of job search networking meetings consists of these things:

  • A written list of names and contact details of the people you intend to contact –
  • A record keeping system, like an excel spreadsheet to keep track of your list, people contacted, and meeting outcomes
  • Preparing an initial contacting script to use when approaching the people on your list
  • Preparing another initial contacting script to use when contacting people that you have been referred to by your contacts – these are people you don’t yet know personally and will be added to the list of contacts on your spreadsheet

In case you don’t know, this post is the 3rd in a series which deals with the extremely important skill of job search networking and information interviewing. Here are the links to the first two posts:

  • An introduction to job search networking – I explain why this activity is so important (basically because 60-80% of jobs aren’t advertised!)
  • How to network – an explanation of how referral networking and information interviewing actually can help you find a job.

In today’s post we will get into the nitty gritty of job search networking….. the first step of which is to actually set up your meetings.

open notebook with penMaking a list of people to contact

While this is an obvious step, I’ve found that many people never get started with job search networking because they claim “I don’t know anyone!”  Rubbish!!!

If you seriously want to network as a part of your job search, you will need at least 50 names on your list. This many names at least gives you the opportunity of developing some momentum with your networking.

How to come up with 50 names on your list

The very first thing you need to do when compiling your list is……don’t assume who your contacts may, or may not know.

The very essence of networking is that each of us has our own unique contacts. Think of the person who is closest to you in your life. There will absolutely be people in their network of acquaintances and contacts that you don’t know.

So……..don’t leave people off your initial list because you assume they won’t know someone who might be able to help you in some way.

Also, make sure you don’t leave people off your list just because they live in another city, region, or even a different country. We do after all live in a connected world!

Let me give you one more reason why it is dangerous to omit people from your list because you don’t think they can help. Are you familiar with the term “6 degrees of separation”? If not, look it up, and you’ll get some idea about the power of networking.

Who to include on your list?

When getting started on developing your list, this is basically a ‘brainstorming’ exercise. Grab a blank piece of paper, pen or pencil, and starting writing down the names of people you know, as you read the list below:

  • All the people you know through your personal relationships and your family members – including extended family members e.g. aunts and uncles
  • All your friends
  • Work colleagues – past (regardless of how long it is since you have had contact with them) and present
  • People you know through your hobbies, interests
  • People involved in your local community, church etc
  • People you went to school with, studied with at college or university
  • Your teachers, lecturers and tutors
  • Professional people whose services you have used – accountant, doctor, dentist, lawyer etc
  • Customer service people you have got to know in places where you shop, or use their services e.g. your hairdresser
  • And so on……..

Enter these names on your spreadsheet, and then start to track down contact details for each to also include in your spreadsheet.

When you don’t have contact details available, use your network to get the information you need!

Hint – if you’re stuck in coming up with names check the list of your contacts on your mobile phone. Next, take a look at your contacts in social media!

Job search networking – making contact

Remember –  your ultimate purpose in contacting your network is to set up a face to face meeting with them.

The contacting scripts below are just one way to give your contacts a believable reason to meet with you.

Most people you contact will be pleased give you advice or guidance when approached the right way. Therefore, in the contacting scripts, offering reassurance that you aren’t contacting them for a job, or for their help to get you a job is quite important.

The approach I’m going to describe here is to make contact by phone.

The reason for this is that you are unlikely to be in regular face to face contact with all the names on your list. If you are in regular face to face contact, simply modify the phone approach I’m suggesting to one which you can use when you come across people you know.

Contacting people you know

Introduction/Getting Started

Hi (John, Mary….) – this is…(your name).

It’s been a while since we spoke, how have you been? (or similar).

Or, if you haven’t had contact for some time it could be something like: “I know its been ages since we have been in contact. I’m calling because I’m wondering if you can help me? Before we get into that, how have you been?”

The reason for my call

“The reason I’m calling is I’m wondering if you can help me. Briefly, my position (or job) was made redundant recently and I’m using this as an opportunity to explore opportunities before I decide what I really want to do. An area that interests me is……..”

Depending on the situation, the script might continue in either of two ways:

Option 1 “I recall that you worked in that type of position/industry and it occurred to me that you might be able to help me with my research into that field.

Would you be open to the idea of getting together with me over a cup of coffee – I’d like to ask you some questions/learn more from you about…  

I want to emphasise that I’m not asking you to find me a job, or for your help in finding me a job, it’s information and guidance that I need right now.” “That’s great, when can we get together?”

Option 2 “First of all do you happen to know anything about that type of work (or field of employment)? Alternatively, is there anyone you know in your circle of connections that might know something about this?”

“That’s great, can you tell me how you know them? And…..would you be able to give me their contact details? I’ll use your name when I contact them for information. Thanks for your help, I’ll let you know how I get on with them.”

picture of a woman making a cell phone callContacting people you don’t know – your referrals

At some point in this process the people you know will refer you to people who you don’t yet know for guidance, information and advice.

A different initial contact approach is required here. When we call a stranger, they will typically be either defensive, cautious or guarded until they feel comfortable, or safe in continuing the phone conversation with you.

The best way of getting them to drop their guard is to get the name of your contact into the conversation very quickly.

The other key thing you will notice in the scripts is that a little genuine flattery can go a long way to getting them to agree to meet with you – which is of course the purpose of making contact with them.

To make it easier to follow the script, let’s say that your colleague or friend is called Jennifer Jones, and they have given you the name of Tom as someone to call for information, guidance etc.

Introduction/Getting Started

“Hello Tom, my name is…..  We don’t know each other but a mutual acquaintance of ours, Jennifer Jones, recommended that I contact you.”

The reason for my call

“Briefly, the reason for my call is that Jennifer explained that you have extensive experience in……..(type of work/industry) and because of that you might be in a position to help me.

My situation is that my position (or job) was recently made redundant, and I’m currently doing some research into (job/industry) as a possible future direction.”

Reassurance – I don’t want/need you to find me a job

“Tom, I’m not asking if you can give me job like this, or for your help in finding such a job. What I would really like is information, advice and some guidance about….(industry/field/type of work). I’ve got lots of questions and would appreciate speaking with someone ‘in the know’.

Jennifer spoke very highly of you and your experience in this field.  She thought you would be an excellent source of information and advice.

So……would you be open to the idea of a quick meeting with me, say 15 or 20 minutes of your time?

Great. When is a good time for you to meet with me, and where?”


Keep expanding your network

Whenever you have met someone that you have been referred to, always go back to the person who gave you the referral. Give them feedback on your meeting. And……ask for more contacts!

Every time you have met a new person that you have been referred to, always for another name to contact. And then get back to your referrer, let them know how the meeting went. And…….possibly ask for another name.

But don’t overdo it, or take advantage of the willingness of people to help you.

True networking involves a combination of ‘give and take’. Find a way to repay your contacts for their time and the information they share with you. This could be something as simple as emailing them a relevant article or piece of information that they might find useful.

One networking contact of mine, who knew I loved to travel, sent me a link to a website which regularly had heavily discounted deals on accommodation in luxury resorts. If they ever wanted my assistance in the future, this simple and thoughtful action by them would mean that I’d be strongly inclined to give that assistance

Possible follow up script for expanding your network

“Thank you so much for your time, and the information you have provided me with today. May I ask one more thing?”

“Who else do you know in this line of work/industry who you think highly that you recommend I speak with – purely to give me some additional views about this?”

Great, and may I mention your name when I contact them? Also, I’ll let you know how my meeting with them went.”

Job search networking meetings – Summary

In my experience the two major difficulties that tend to discourage job search networking are – not enough names of people on their initial list that they can contact, and how to actually ask for, and receive a face to face meeting.

In this post I’ve explained how you can generate at least 50 names of people that you already know so that you can get started on networking to access the hidden job market.

I’ve also explained the type of script you can use when making contact which influences people to (usually) quite readily agree to meet with you.

In my next post I’ll explain some ideas for conducting your meetings.

Till next time, have a fantastic day!!

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