You probably first heard about Informational Interviews as a student as it is touted as a great way to get jobs. Then you forgot about them, or thought that they don’t apply to you anymore.
They are great for students, in fact my first job out of university came from an informational interview. But I never turned my back on them and since then, I have still gotten jobs for myself (even for friends), gotten leads and valuable information by never being afraid to ask to talk with someone. Honestly, for me, it has one of the most powerful tools in my career, and not just for networking.
The informational interview has been magical for me in the way that it has changed my life.
So to help you see how powerful they can be, I wanted to share with you my story so that maybe you will feel a little more confident and sure of yourself when embarking on your own informational interviews.
Last May, shortly after my grandfather passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. A common occurrence back then as I was stressed and not loving my job that was only made worse by my grief. That night a thought suddenly struck me. I wanted to be a Career Coach but I wanted to keep working from home. I had thought that I couldn't have both but I had never even looked into see if this was even possible! So why don’t I just take a look.
The next morning I googled virtual career coach and a bunch of articles and job postings for RiseSmart popped up. They are an organization that assists individuals after being laid off. Their career coaches are almost 100% virtual. Needless to say I was intrigued and excited!
Using LinkedIn, I found one of their Transition Coaches in Toronto and immediately sent a connection request stating my interest in learning more. She accepted and she told me all about the role. The roles are part time and allows individuals to continue exploring other job opportunities including as she does, freelance Career Coaching (I thought to myself, “what they exist?”). Plus she referred me to her team lead for me to speak with.
Last June, the team lead and I spoke. She is based in New York and manages the small but growing coaching team in Canada. We spoke for about 30-60 minutes and it ended with her giving me some advice (maybe explore getting my Certified Professional Resume Writer) and some timelines (they had nothing now, hopefully in 2018 and for us to chat again in the fall).
Honestly, I was a little disappointed at first as I wanted a job there RIGHT THIS SECOND! Then I remembered my chat with the Toronto Coach, maybe I could freelance career coach too. I began to reach out to other people in the industry who didn’t work for an organization but for themselves to arrange informational interviews and coffee chats. I found out so much great information – business tips, clients tips, etc. All that information gave me the confidence to make the leap and open up my own business. All summer I worked on designing my own website, developing content for it and making connections with the Burlington Public Library and the HRPA – Halton chapter leading to my official launch in September 2018.
At that point I had a 3-5 year plan (but if I was really honest with myself, an ideal 1 year plan) to move completely away from recruiting and be able to help people as a Career Coach full-time.
Fast forward to this past May. A job opened up at RiseSmart in Toronto. Immediately an interview was set up with the Talent Acquisition Specialist, the second interview with the team lead was bypassed as she and I already talked(!) and then a final interview with Canada’s General Manager. A few days later I got the call with the offer. Two weeks from the job opening to the offer. I got the offer on April 24th just a few weeks shy of the date I sent out that initial LinkedIn connection request. Allowing me to, way ahead of my scheduled plan, to say goodbye to recruitment and devote 100% of my time to Career Coaching.
I have been with RiseSmart for 6 weeks now and it has been amazing. I went through their intensive training program (accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF)) and have been working 10-15 hours a week which leaves me plenty of time to continue to build my own career coaching business and maintain a semblance of work/life balance!
All because I wasn’t afraid to reach out. My life changed that night and every day I wake up so grateful for this opportunity. I feel so fulfilled being able to help people navigate career transition, reinvention and the job search.
I want to help you too. Let’s set up a time to have a FREE Discover Your Career strategy call – we’ll talk about where you are now, where you want to go and some ways to get you there. If it makes sense, we’ll talk about how we can work together in a professional coaching relationship. If not, I provide some free resources, tips and an action plan to get you started on your own.
What do you want to do? Reach out to others doing just that and talk to them. You never know, those calls may change your life.
For your career, LinkedIn is probably the number one tool you can use. As the number one networking tool, it allows you to build your credibility, keep in touch with your current network and grow your contacts.
I always talk to people about the importance of having connections, ideally 500+ as it opens so many new doors for you (500+ is the magic number as stated by LinkedIn). But when you are starting from scratch or even 100, it can seem incredibly daunting to get to that number so here are 5 easy steps you can follow guaranteed to get you to 500!
First of all, why?
Well as your number of first degree connections grow, the number of second and third degree connections grow too. This is key for you to be found on LinkedIn as when a recruiter searches for talent for a new job, say “electrical engineer” in Toronto, Ontario they will really only see their 1st-3rd degree connections and group members. So if you don’t have a lot of connections you risk not even coming up in their search. If you have recruiters knocking on your door it is freeing up some of your job searching time for networking, research or staying inspired!
Maybe you are thinking, well I don’t care about recruiters. In fact I don’t want to be found and contacted. BUT, if you want complete control of your career then you need to know what is out there. You can always politely decline, but at least you are given the opportunity.
Plus, think beyond new job opportunities, a robust LinkedIn Profile which includes 500+ connections can increase your credibility to internal and external clients and stakeholders. Essentially those connections are like individual endorsements of your work and professional reputation.
If you are searching for a new job, then leveraging LinkedIn for networking is a must. Networking is made easier when you have 500+ connections as it allows you to see the people you want to – potential hiring managers, peers, people that may be able to offer some great advise.
And don’t forget those pesky resume reading bots, remember some of them check your connections to see how well connected you are within their industry!
Okay, enough with the why! You want to know the how:
1. Connect with Me and other “Elite Expert Tier” Individuals
One way to immediately increase your third-degree connections is to connect with myself. I have about 3k connections and a connection with me would instantly make you a third-degree connection with those individuals. On someone’s profile page you will see the number of connections that they have, so when you come across an individual in an industry or role that is relevant who have 500+ connections definitely send a connection request.
There are also individuals who classify themselves as LIONs, these are people going after the 30k connection limit. A lot of them have their number of connections in their headline, so it is easy to find someone with 10k+ connections, having one or two would be worthwhile!
2. Use your Existing Network
The easiest way to get a big jump on your connection numbers is to sync your contact list to LinkedIn, if you have multiple email accounts make sure you sync all lists! Make a list of people you have worked with, met at events, go through your stack of business cards and manually search for those individuals using the search bar.
You can go through their connection lists to find other people you may know. You can also see if they are connected with people you want in your network, then you can ask them to “introduce” you increasing the likelihood that the new individual will become a valuable member of your network.
This step is probably the most time intensive, however these will be the most beneficial connections for you and your career so it is well worth it.
3. Company Pages
You can visit your current or previous company pages, or the company pages that you want to work at. Those pages will give you instant access to all the employees that work there and you can also tailor the search to previous employees and specific locations, job titles, etc.
This is a great way to find people you worked with but maybe didn’t stay in touch with allowing you to reconnect.
Focusing on your ideal companies allows you to build a network within them and are great for referrals and for setting up Informational Interviews.
These are connections that matter – people you worked with that can vouch and advocate for you and people who want to work with that can open new doors for you or give you key information that you can use.
4. Groups and Alumni
There is an ongoing problem with LinkedIn groups with decreasing levels of engagement so while being active on groups probably won’t help you in your career, being members of groups will. Being a member of a relevant group allows you access to individuals you may not have otherwise. So looking for applicable groups (school alumni, industry, associations, etc) is your first step. Ask to join and then you can go through the group members and send out connection requests.
Using LinkedIn’s Alumni portal (www.linkedin.com/alumni) is amazing in terms of the people and insights it provides. Like groups, it makes people more accessible to you allowing you to build your connections in industries and companies you want even if they are out of your network (you aren’t a 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connection).
5. Get your profile out there
Get people to reach out to you first! Optimize your own LinkedIn profile, making sure it is set up to get you noticed and full of key words to bring you up in searches.
Remember when I wrote about selling yourself? Take some of those ideas and apply them here. Post on Facebook including your LinkedIn Profile link asking your Facebook friends to connect with you (you can do the same on Twitter). Include your link in your email signature, your Twitter profile, your resume, etc. Anywhere it makes sense really.
5 easy steps. That is all it takes to start building your network within LinkedIn. I’ll look out for your connection request!
If your LinkedIn needs an overhaul, I can help with that. Or do you need help with networking in general? I offer networking training and coaching teaching you how to get noticed and create connections. I am passionate about using networking in your career and job search as it has worked countless times for myself and now my clients, next week I'll tell you a little more about that!
There is a saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know", that really captures the career journey. The elevator pitch is something that helps increase the number of people you know and when done right can lead to people feeling invested in your career and success. Read on to learn the tips on how to do it right.
The way to a new job is clear. At least 70% and maybe even as many as 85% of new jobs are secured through networking like networking events, informational interviewing, reconnecting with your current network and even social media networking.
You know what that means, you need a great elevator pitch as anytime you talk to someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken with in a while you will need to tell them a bit about yourself and what you are looking for. You want to hook someone in, someone who either wants to hire you or feels invested enough in your future to advocate for you within their own network. They won’t feel that way if you don’t create a connection with a good elevator pitch.
Are you in a role and company that you love and think that this doesn’t apply to you? Well I have news for you, it does! I have heard about CEOs who literally get into the elevator every day and ask a different person for their elevator pitch. I know one who points to someone and says “elevator pitch – go!” I know another who is a little more subtle, “so what do you do here?” Think about wowing the head of your company and what sort of opportunities could arise from that, simply from having an elevator pitch.
So what is an elevator pitch exactly? It is a quick, compelling short story about who you are, what you are looking for and how you add value. You are selling yourself as a product right? Think of the pitch as your “commercial” and remember that it allows you to create a lasting impression leading to stronger connections with individuals.
Things to ponder:
Before crafting your pitch there are a few things that I want you to keep in mind about the perfect elevator pitch:
Some Tips for Success:
Want an example of how a good pitch looks, sign up for my newsletter and on Friday get a Behind the Scenes secret and elevator pitch sample!
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.