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Debra Feldman

Hidden Job Market Holiday Secrets

Build a network in 12 Days before Christmas.

December 16, 2010
by Debra Feldman

The holiday season is ideal for re-connecting, making new contacts and strengthening relationships. Networking is the best job search method and generates over 80% of new hires. Constantly nurturing existing relationships and strategically developing new contacts puts you on the inside track to plum job leads whether you are an active candidate or just want to keep up with the market.

All jobs are temporary. Your network is lifetime career insurance. Contacts provide referrals, recommendations and invitations. The “right contacts” are relationships with hiring decision makers and good connectors. In just 12 days, start building your career nest egg:

On the first day … Define your networking strategy. Focus on individuals and activities related directly to achieving personal and professional goals. Compile list of existing contacts and research targeted new contacts among thought leaders, authors, friends of friends, industry consultants and speakers.

On the second day … Organize contacts into action groups. Meet in-person, one-on-one. Send individual e-mails or print notes, share links and articles, send gifts, connect two contacts, invite contacts to a live event, recommend a virtual event or group discussion and submit a proposal for a presentation.

On the third day … Select and prioritize in person and virtual communities. Identify a few groups or organizations to focus your efforts. Be an active participant or leader in a few groups and build strong relationships. Schedule virtual networking meetings into your daily calendar. Join LinkedIn groups in your industry, for your specialty or new field you want to enter. Participate in discussions among trade association members and within other affinity groups.

On the fourth day … Create a networking card. Show name, e-mail and preferred phone. Put a descriptive, memorable headline on the front. Bullet your core competencies on the back of your card. Add a signature block to your personal e-mail that includes your name, headline, phone number and e-mail.

On the fifth day … Connect with contacts now. Write cards and e-mails. Make phone calls. Attend or schedule a live event. Participate in an online discussion. Schedule time to network daily by e-mailing or calling on your contacts, posting a comment to an online discussion and attending a local chapter meeting. Repeat these daily.

On the sixth day … Launch your (new) network purposefully. If you are in transition or plan a change, identify prospective target employers. Define your requirements (geography, responsibilities, corporate culture, company size, market segment, competitive position, growth potential, etc.). Research companies that match your criteria. Identify appropriate hiring decision managers at each employer. Determine who in your network can connect you.

On the seventh day … Conduct due diligence. Find individuals with inside knowledge of target companies including current and former employees, consultants. Read print and online publications, visit professional association websites, check conference exhibitors and presenters. Refine your value proposition for employers based on their needs. Describe by success story examples how you will add to profits, reduce costs or improve process. Distinguish yourself as a first choice, go-to reliable expert. Join additional groups to make more targeted contacts.

On the eighth day … Initiate inside contacts at each target company. You should already be members of the same organizations and groups. If not, join the groups in which the people who need to know you, are members. Ask questions and share relevant experiences and ideas. (Do not begin conversations asking about openings.) You can also volunteer and be the preferred candidate when you identify a need before a new position is official. This is the hidden job market; you have penetrated it. Stay on the insider’s radar and be present for the right time to suggest ideas, solutions, etc.

On the ninth day … Maximize social networking to increase quality contacts. Social networks provide enormous opportunity to connect with insiders identified from their profile content. Ask a mutual contact to facilitate an introduction. Join the same group as a target contact. You can send a message to a fellow group member on LinkedIn without being linked. Search contacts and send a compelling introduction explaining how they will benefit from meeting you. Check SlideShare to find industry or specialty contacts. Connect through Facebook or follow them on Twitter. Join the same LinkedIn groups. Ask for their recommendations — crowd sourcing is one technique to discover new trends, ideas, people to know, etc.

On the tenth day … Spot trends and increase your knowledge online. Go beyond LinkedIn. Get background info from corporate websites and Facebook fan pages. Search ZoomInfo, Google profiles or Spoke for more names. Monitor conversations. Send direct messages or engage in a public dialogue. Publish your own blog and reply promptly to comments. Update your LinkedIn profile with personal news. Ask questions within your groups and answer questions to demonstrate knowledge. Move conversations offline to deepen relationships. Identify a handful of bloggers you admire. Regularly read and comment. Good chance the author will reply and start a private conversation. Offer to write a guest blog. Recommend the blog.
 
On the eleventh day … Increase your visibility. Now that you are getting the hang of how to network purposefully, complete your LinkedIn profile. Add key words. Document your recent accomplishments. Upload presentations, white papers, articles, favorite links, travel plans, etc. Adding content increases your digital footprint making you more searchable. Check your Twitter stream a few times daily. Monitor your favorite blogs and websites via Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to your e-mail or Google Reader. Write a comment, post a question or answer an inquiry — all of which are searchable and increase your digital footprint adding to your credibility, building your reputation and providing a continuous record of who you are, what you do, how you think and show your potential value. Document your accomplishments online. Your work is your résumé. Offline activities published online also add to your digital footprint. Send out press releases announcing promotions or job changes. Present at a trade show. Lead or help organize an activity in your local community or professional group. You will also make new contacts plus get more PR for yourself.

On the twelfth day … Maintain social networking accounts and credibility. Be consistent across all platforms. While staying in touch and keeping your activities current is time-consuming, repeatedly starting to network from scratch every time you need or want a different position requires much more time and effort and is far less effective. Having solid relationships is the key to sourcing new challenges in the unadvertised or hidden job market. Keep up your side of relationships.

Conclusion

Networking is critically important in today’s world in which every job is temporary and you need to create your own career insurance. It is easier to maintain a relationship than to develop a new one. “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”

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© Debra Feldman, 2010

Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized executive talent agent and job search expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, customized senior level executive campaigns that provide lifetime career insurance. Her gift for Networking Purposefully™ — executed with high energy and savvy panache — banishes employment roadblocks, expands inside connections and leverages virtual relationships to accelerate targeted leads within the hidden job market. Learn more about her groundbreaking techniques that eliminate gatekeepers and put you back in control. Contact Debra now at to expedite your executive ascent!