Getting yourself in-front of people when you’re looking for a new position is incredibly important. Here Coaching4Careers give some of their best tips for ensuring you make the best impression with those key contacts that make or break your search for a career…
Before approaching your contacts, plan carefully what you want to get out of the encounter and the questions you want to ask (see our list of ideas below). This will ensure that you make the best use of the opportunity and that you appear professional in your approach.
Research a little into your contact’s jobrole and the organisation they work for so that you can ask relevant questions. You do not want to be using valuable ‘networking time’ asking for information that can easily be sourced via the company’s website.
3. Call Them
A brief, professional telephone call can often elicit a better response that a letter or email as it requires less initiative from your contact to respond. During the call you can:
- Remind them how you know them / explain who gave you their name.
- Explain why you are ringing – i.e. because you are considering a move into their particular occupational field/ considering applying for a role with their employer and you would appreciate an insider’s view about what this entails (not because you want them to find you a job or look at your CV!).
- Ask them if they can spare 10 minutes or so to speak to you by phone. If they are busy, ask when would be a good time to call back, or ask if they would prefer you to contact them by email.
- If they say that they cannot help you (because they are not in the relevant area of work, for example) then ask them if they can suggest another contact you could approach.
- Thank them for their time and help.
4. Ask to find out more
Never ask your contact if they know of any vacancies in the field in your introduction as this will put your contact under pressure and may make them feel uncomfortable.
It is better to ask about typical routes in to the profession and ask generally where opportunities tend to be advertised. If your contact is aware of a suitable vacancy which is likely to arise, they will probably mention it to you. If the conversation is going well, you might ask them if they would consider having a quick look over your CV to give you some advice on how to market yourself for this area of work.
This ensures that your contact is aware of your skills, enthusiasm and availability and will bear these in mind if an opportunity comes up.
5. Seek Experience
If your aim is to secure work experience, then ask about how you might go about arranging this. Explain the sort of practical role you feel you would be able to fulfil (based on your current skills) and what you are looking to get out of the placement. If your contact explains that their company does not offer work experience, or that they are too busy/some other objection you might want to ask if a short period of work shadowing might be possible as this requires less planning and staff resources from the employer.
6. Seek More Contacts
At the end of the conversation, ask your contact if they can think of anybody else who might be willing to speak to you to improve your understanding of the job area. Your aim should be to end the conversation with at least one further contact to explore.
Follow up the conversation with a thank you letter or email, thanking them for their time and helpful information and enclosing your CV for their information. You could ask them to bear you in mind if they chance upon a suitable opportunity which might interest you and offer to come in for a further meeting if they would like to explore this further.
8. Remember to Make Good Impression at All Times
Throughout your networking encounter, remember that you might be talking to a prospective employer or to someone who can recommend you to an employer in the field. This is an opportunity for you to make a good impression and to impress them with your skills, qualities and motivation.
When asked for your reasons for entering this job area, for example, try to give the same sorts of reasons that you would in an interview, albeit in a more informal way. Your contacts don’t want to hear that you want a job in their area because you hate your current employer/you’re broke/it sounds like a cushy number!