Thursday, September 22, 2011

Campus Recruiting is Upon Us (and you!)

I’ve been spending a lot of time on campuses lately and its hard to believe that we are in the recruiting season once again!  Here are a couple of pointers for you folks seeking interviews and ultimately job offers!

  • Establish your criteria for a range of companies that you think you want to work for and tailor your preparation accordingly.  If you are looking at different technology companies or comparing big and small consultancies, make sure you’ve thought through why you want to work at a particular firm.  Remember the objective is to get an offer not evaluate options during the interview!
  • Resist the temptation to compare and contrast the pluses and minuses of Company A over Company B before you get deeply into the interview process.  Your job is to get an offer (hear the theme!).  Keep in mind that if you don’t have an offer, you don’t have a decision to make.  I often talk to students who are deep into the evaluation process before they have an offer.  Big mistake.  You can’t evaluate without exploring the negatives at every company and doing this before you have an offer sends negative signals.
  • Prepare for your interview.  Many will give you the obvious things – know what they do for a living, read the 10K, visit their website, have something intelligent to say etc.  My problem with this advice is that it makes you sound like everyone else.  How about:
    • What is the GPA criteria?  Are you in the window?  Be honest.
    • What do you look at on our transcripts? Did you take classes that didn’t challenge you?
    • How many interview slots is the company staffing? Who am I competing with?
    • How many students do they want to recruit from your school?  If they have a high target, your chances increase.
    • Who is the person who will be interviewing you?  What is their background?  Don’t be asking the “what do you do at company X” if they are running the office where you might be working!
    • What connections can I make? Can I network before my interview to give the interview team a positive  view of you and your accomplishments?  Are they on campus?  Did you go to all of the events?
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – if you are not role playing with friends or signing up for mock interviews, you are making a mistake.  Don’t let it be coming out of your mouth for the first time in an interview.  Grab your buddies and have them role play with you.
  • Tell Stories – as you review your own resume, make sure every item has a story that you have identified and practiced.  Interviewers are assessing you as a cultural fit and trying to determine if you can do the work they are defining for you.  People learn through stories.  Even if you have gaps in your resume, make sure you have a story about it – not an excuse!
  • Define the company’s process?  Don’t leave the interview without understanding the hiring process?  Most day one interviews are to designed to eliminate candidates and get to a short list.  You should know when offers will be made.  Most schools require companies to leave those offers open for a period of time.
  • Understand your options?  Once you get an offer (hopefully) you’ll begin to look at start dates, locations and benefits.  All of these things have variables.  Some things are negotiable and some are not.  Understand that before you make the call.
  • Tap into your alumni network – if it is a reputable company, they have probably recruited at your school before.  Talk to your career counselors and see if you can track them down.  Talk to the folks who joined last year, not just those who have been there for 10 years.  Exercise creativity in finding the answers you are looking for.

This is a wonderful time in your college career, but many forget that the reason they went to college, was to prepare for this season.  Take it seriously!  Work hard!  Be consistent!  Remember to network!  Review previous blogs in this area.  Stay tuned for a criteria for decision making!

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do You Remember Who Gave You Your First Break?

Someone saw something in you once.

That’s partly why you are where you are today.

It could have been a thoughtful parent, a perceptive teacher, a demanding drill sergeant, an appreciative employer, or just a friend who dug down in his pocket and came up with a few bucks.

Whoever it was had the kindness and the foresight to bet on your future.

Those are two beautiful qualities that separate the human being from the orangutan.

In the next 24 hours, take 10 minutes to write a grateful note to the person who helped you.

You'll keep a wonderful friendship alive.

Matter of fact, take another 10 minutes to give somebody else a break.

Who knows?

Someday you might get a nice letter.

It could be one of the most gratifying messages you ever read.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is Social Networking, Networking?

Ok, so maybe this is one of those “the old guy just doesn’t get it!” deals but it’s my blog and I can say what I want.  I’m an active user of many of the leading tools and hopelessly behind on some of the newer sites, but what is the best way to use “social networking?”

I find that in many cases individuals that I meet with wear the number of sites and number of contacts as a badge of courage in the race to networking superiority.  I have met some tremendous networkers, but if you believe its all about the technology, you are sorely mistaken.

Here are some thoughts based on habits I’m trying to form (see previous blog on getting back up!).

  • Within 48 hours of meeting somebody you want to follow up with:
    • Send them a LinkedIn request with a detailed description of where you met and why you want to link.
    • An email reaching out to thank them or pass along something you thought they needed.
    • Enter their card into your outlook or download their VCF.  Most people don’t have as much information on the social media profile as they do on their card.
    • Set yourself a reminder task in Outlook to call them in 30 days.  In that reminder, write a note as to what you can give them when you get together.
  • If you don’t meet with them face to face within 90 days, you have wasted your time:
    • Just because you have them in your “network” what does it matter if there is no relationship?
    • When you meet, focus on how you can help them.  Remember you are plowing the long term ground, not the short term.
  • Be careful on Facebook and the like
    • Once it is there, it is there forever.  I know you are a high school or college student, but some day you will be an employable person!  Don’t live with any regret!  Employers check this stuff out.

Remember, networking is about relationships, not connecting.  Connecting is a transaction whereas relationships form the foundation of trust.  All good things come from trust.  All bad things come from the lack of trust.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Get Back Up!

Networking for Life – Let’s decompose this one.

Networking – to become a life-long giver and connector of people to solve their individual and business problems. 

For – a preposition with the object or purpose of:

Life – as long as you live.

Notice we didn’t say “networking for” a day, or a month or a year!  A life is usually a long time so what I’m implying is that you need to network forever.  Not “when the economy is bad” or “the economy is good” or “I lost my job” or any one of a thousand reasons.

A week doesn’t go by when I don’t talk to somebody who needs help expanding their network for a myriad of reasons.  The worst one is “I’ve lost my job so I have a little more time.”  Yep, you do!  I don’t try to make people feel bad because to live in regret is a terrible place to live.  What I try to emphasize is that they should use this moment in their life as a reminder to never allow it to happen again.  Life is a long time.  Take the long view and imagine your life richer with a powerful and well connected network of people.

In our firm we record “market touch points” so we can teach every employee how to network.  It also allows us to see how we are doing week to week, quarter to quarter and year to year.  In 2010, the company had 28,000 touch points across the markets we serve.  At Pariveda, networking is just part of what we do every day.  It is one of the first classes we teach and is something that we reinforce at every turn.  As networkers, we have good weeks and bad weeks.  We have days when we are awesome at recording our progress and days and sometimes weeks when we are pathetic.  I’ve had plenty of those days and I’m the teacher!  Failure is an event, it is not a person!  Remember that next time you get knocked down. 

Life is a long time.  Cut yourself some slack.  Start over tomorrow.  Wallowing in it will not make it better.  Everyone takes their eye off the ball from time to time.  We all mess up.  Encourage one another!  Help your friend or colleague back up.  Maybe all they need is a little courage.  Don’t stay down.  Zig Zigler is famous for talking about having a good attitude.  Often he hears the comment “it just doesn’t last.”  He replies “neither does a shower!”

I don’t know how you motivate yourself after disappointment.  I just focus on today.  “I’m going to get better today.”  A friend of mine is good at reminding me that “regret” is yesterday and “worry” is tomorrow.  Live today and network yourself into tomorrow.   Always get back up!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Networking for Life–Literally!

So often we think that networking is about generating leads, interest or revenue.  I would contend that the most valuable networking goes way beyond the day to day and gets individuals making a contribution in life.

This Spring, I was fortunate enough to participate on a relay team that raised money for the Beyond Batten Foundation.  I’d encourage you to go to the website and learn about this terminal disease that affects so many children.

My good friends, Craig and Charlotte Benson, have a beautiful young daughter, Christiane, who has battens disease.  They took a page out of Networking for Life and got busy building a successful foundation to eradicate this disease from the planet. 

A little over a year ago they had a good friend share a vision for how a 95 mile relay from downtown Austin, through the hill country (and overnight!), could raise money to support some recent breakthroughs they were having regarding testing for the disease.  Faith is a funny thing.  Defined as “things hoped for not yet seen” they stepped out and started planning this event.

Run to the Sun was born with high expectations.

Nobody would have believed that a first time fund raiser, for a foundation in its infancy, to support a disease most have never heard of would be such a smashing success:

  • 95 Miles Overnight
  • 25 Teams
  • 250 Participants
  • $225,000 Raised

A while back, I wrote about finding a “leaking ship” and contributing to something bigger than you.  This foundation and this event are worthy of your time. 

You’ll never be the same!  Click Here to see the video!

Monday, February 28, 2011

You’ve Got to Kiss A lot of Frogs

A good friend sent this to me today and I thought I’d pass it on…

I took a some liberty to change one word in this bit – “sales” to “networking.”

I have often said in my presentations that in networking 80% of what we do is a waste of time (or feels like it).  If we could figure out what 20% to focus on, we’d have unparalleled success.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that!

“Remember the basic premise of any “networking” endeavor:
“You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to meet a prince.”
That’s the job and you’ve got to kiss ‘em. Don’t try
to substitute. You can’t mail them a kiss. You can’t
stay in the office and wait for them to hop in and
kiss you. You can’t let advertising change them into
princes. You can’t ask your assistant to kiss them
(he or she hasn’t got the stomach for it). You can’t
kiss the same one 40 times – it doesn’t take a lot of
smooching to tell a prince from a frog. You can’t
change kissin’ styles every 30 days or spend all your
time in kissin’ school. You’ve got to spend time with
frogs and you’ll find them out there in the marshes.
Then, when you find one, you’ve got to make
contact. Kissing is a contact sport.”

Networking is a contact sport too!  No matter how great the tools are that facilitate our networking – and there are some great tools – eventually, we have to meet people one on one.  I know, sounds like old school to all of you under 30 folks, but trust is developed through shared experiences.  Developing trust is critical to networking, business and personal success. 

So get out there and start kissing some frogs! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Get Out of that Rut

Oscar Wilde said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

So stop getting up at 6:05.

Get up at 5:06.

Walk a mile at dawn.

Find a new way to drive to work.

Switch chores with your spouse next Saturday.

Buy a wok.

Study wildflowers.

Stay up alone all night.

Read to the blind.

Start counting brown-eyed blondes or blonds.

Subscribe to an out of town paper.

Canoe at midnight.

Don’t write your congressman, take a whole scout troop to go see him.

Learn to speak Italian.

Teach some kid the thing you do best.

Listen to two hours of uninterrupted Mozart.

Take up aerobic dancing.

Leap out of that rut.

Savor life.

Remember, we only pass this way once.