Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Get Referrals from Warm Contacts

You may find it hard to use networking to find a job if you can't rely on your warm contacts to give you the information you need.  At times, you would have to ask your warm contacts to refer you to at least two people that they know who will be able to give you the information you needed.

However, there are times that your warm contact, particularly those who don't know you well, may not readily provide you with the information.  Some of your warm contacts may feel reluctant about vouching for you to their other contacts.

Because of this, you may find it difficult to use your network.  To make networking and getting referrals an easy task for you, here are a few tips.

* Nurture your warm contacts.

Before you even need your warm contacts or before you even ask for help, keep in touch with your warm contacts.  You may send notes or greetings from time to time, call to "catch up" on them, invite them to lunch, be interested or help in their business or do anything just to cultivate your connection with them.

In this way, by the time you need help, they can remember you and can more readily give information about their other contacts that will be able to help you.

* Be polite.

Since you might not have close personal relationships with some of your valuable warm contacts, it is inappropriate to just give them a call and ask them for information about your field of interest.

Sometimes, sending a note in advance, or asking to meet them for lunch is a better way to ask for their help.

* Listen to them.

Most of the time, even if your warm contact knows little in the field where you are trying to find a job, they might offer you advice.  Be polite and interested in what they are saying.  Who knows, the information that they are giving may be valuable to you in the future.

There are times that your warm contacts may be telling you tips on what manner will work best when you talk to the persons to whom you are being referred.  Your warm contacts may also imply what qualities and qualifications the person is looking for.

* Ask for at least two referrals.

Before you ask for referrals, make sure that your warm contact had said everything that he or she can say about your field of interest.

Even if they know little about that field, it is impolite if you cut them short while they are speaking to ask if they know somebody who will be able to help you.

If they weren't able to refer you to at least one of their contacts, thoughtfully ask them why they couldn't do so.  They may give you answers that may include indirect comments or suggestions.  They may also indicate a lack of confidence in your work strategy.  If this is so, you may have to make follow ups with them to prove that you are indeed credible and match their requirements.

However, there are also times when they can't refer you to their contacts because they just don't know anybody who might have the information or might be interested in the product. 

In this case, ask them to keep their eyes open for opportunities that you might be interested in.  You can also leave with them copies of your resume.

* Just ask for two referrals.

Two referrals are enough from each warm contact.  This is to have another option in case the first one didn't work out.  Asking for more than two referrals could be impolite as it can take much time from your warm contact.  Also, that will make your warm contact feel that you are relying mostly on him or her for your job search.  So, unless they volunteer the information, don't ask for more than 2 referrals.

* Contact referrals as soon as possible.

When your warm contacts give you referrals, there are times that they also call these people personally to give more information about you.  On the other hand, when you contact the people to whom you were referred, your referrals may call your warm contacts to verify the information or to ask more information about you.

Either way, you have to contact your referrals soon enough that these people can still remember their conversation with your warm contact, or your warm contact can still remember that you have talked.

At times, after your referrals were called by your warm contacts, they anticipate your call and even prepare questionnaires and exams for you to take.  Do not waste this opportunity by delaying follow-up on referrals.

Keeping these tips in mind will be able to help you in asking for good referrals from your warm contacts.

Tips on Using Your Warm Contact List When Networking

When you are searching for a job, aside from checking the ads in newspapers, internet and bulletin boards, it is also very helpful to ask for information from the people on your warm contact list.

They can provide you with up-to-date information on the company and position vacancies that are not posted on job ads.  At times when they cannot provide you information about the job that you are looking for, they may be able to refer you to a person that they know who might be able to tell you something about the job.

This is called networking.  Networking is when you start using your warm list to get information or referrals to their other contacts.  Many people are repelled by the thought of networking.  Some believe that it is not a reliable source of information about the job.  Others say networking is more difficult than following the leads on the ads that are posted in the newspaper, internet or ad boards.

Contrary to such beliefs, networking is not that difficult to do.  You may just have to contact or meet some people, and you can get valuable information that can help in your career search.  Also, since the people you meet belong to the same industry, they can provide you information about hiring that isn't advertised and first-hand facts about the company. 

You are already networking and you just don’t know it.  When you have seen an ad in the paper posted by a company you know little of, you ask your friends if they know somebody who works for the company.  So even if you are not attracted by the idea of networking, it is still essential when seeking a job.  To make networking easier and more productive for you, here are a few tips.

* Prepare your warm contact list

When you have prepared your warm contact list, it will be easier to select the people who you prefer to call first.  These are the people who you think have some information about the job.  They may be former employers, colleagues and members of the professional organization belonging to the same industry.  They usually have first-hand, up-to-date and reliable information.

* Calling a warm contact

When you call a warm contact, inform them that you are actively seeking a job.  Ask them to let you know if they heard of job openings you might be interested in.  It is better to inform them what type of job you are looking for.  And don't forget to leave your contact number with them, so they can get in touch with you if they hear of anything.  It is also better if you can leave a copy of your resume with them so they can show or submit it to someone who will be able to help you in your job search.

* Assess yourself before calling your contact

You warm contact may ask about your skills, experiences, abilities, interests, expectations and career goals.  You should be able to talk about these sincerely and you should be able to describe what information you would like to have from your contact.

To help you prepare, you can practice by drafting a script on what to say.  That way, you can articulate what you would like to communicate to your warm contact.

Anticipate questions about yourself, so you should also practice answering questions about your previous job and what you can contribute to the company.

* Ask for referrals

If your warm contact was not able to provide you information that will be helpful to your job search, ask for the names of at least two people who they think will be able to help you.  Ask for their contact number, and if possible, the time which they will be free to talk over the phone.

* Contact referrals immediately

When your warm contact gives you referrals, they may even call this person to inform them that you will be asking for more information.  Sometimes, the person you were referred to will be calling your warm contact.  Therefore, it is better to call your referrals within a few days after you have spoken with your warm contact.

When you make a call, introduce yourself and inform the person who referred you to him/her and how you are related with the person who referred you.  Be polite, but straightforward, in informing the person what information you are seeking.

Networking really isn’t a difficult thing to do.  With enough practice and experience, you can maximize the benefits that you can get from networking.

Why Small Organizations Mean Big Business...???

In the  movie "You've Got Mail", the sub-plot aside from the love angle is that the heroine (played by Meg Ryan)  was forced out of business when the big-time bookstore owner (played by Tom Hanks) moved into town.

Meg's character owned a quaint little bookstore which she inherited from her mother. Although the prices of her books were a little steep, she makes up for it in service. She packs the books in a specialized bag, and she knows all of her customers by name.

Tom's character, on the other hand, moved into town to build a branch of a big chain-bookstore which offered discounted prices and a huge building, as compared to Meg's little bookshop on one corner of the town's streets.

In the end, Meg was forced out of business because her customers went to Tom's monstrous bookshop.

Nowadays, this situation will not hold true anymore.

More and more small organizations are paving the way and giving big businesses a shot of their own medicine.

In the movie, the reason why Meg Ryan was forced out of business is because she cannot profit anymore. Her prices are steep as compared to the other big business' discounted rates.

Her only edge is that she gives personal service, she knows her customers by name and she has a very small staff, about 2 or 3 employees.

As a small organization you may turn around and have these qualities as your edge to compete against the big sharks in business.

Here are some tips on how you can hold your own against a big business:

1. Small businesses have big competition.

This means that you need to know how to survive out there.

No matter what nature of business you have, it is better to learn about the competition so that you will be able to survive. 

Here are some tips on how you can survive the big competition:

>Keep your business alive.

When it seems as if your cash flow is in a downward slope, keep a tight rein on your budget.

Do not spend on unnecessary business purchases and always balance your books.

If you are one to buy on impulse or if you are the type to listen to those who sweet-talk you into purchasing "necessary" items, control yourself.

Get a second and third opinion if possible, as these impulsive buys may lead to the end of your small organization.

>Do not be afraid to seek professional help.

The fall of most small businesses start with decisions on problems which are not carefully analyzed.

Although you think that you already have a contingency plan, make sure that you have foreseen the results of a certain business decision.

In the long run, it is better to seek professional help rather than embark on a plan that could start the downfall of your business.

>Keep your books straight.

The better option is for you to hire a professional outside accountant to figure the returns of your investment and handle the other financial aspects of your business.

>Take advantage of every free business counseling whenever available.

This does not just help widen your knowledge, but it will also give you an idea of how other businesses are ran by small-scale owners.

>Know exactly where your business is headed.

In your day-to-day operation, make sure that you know where you want your company to be 5 or 10 years from now.

Be always aware of the trends in the industry that you are in, practice good money management and learn how to recognize potential problems before they arise.

2. Learn how to market your small organization.

Marketing is not about trying to sell your products and services to everyone.

It is about knowing who to market your products to.

In marketing, it is good to remember these fast facts:

> Know about your customers.

>Communicate with your customers.

>Build a good and personalized relationship with your customers.

This will be a great edge for you to have against the bigger companies.

They might offer discounted prices but it is harder for them to keep track of customers on a more personal basis.

>Do not stop the marketing process.

As a small organization, you need to routinely review the markets that you need to pursue so that you can better reach out to your customers.

Remember, small organizations are big businesses these days so do not be afraid to work hard for the company that you have - not matter how small.

If you work hard, make wise business decisions, learn how to market your small business and personalize your customer interaction, your small-scale business is sure to rise to the top.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Dressing up for the Success Interview"

Prepare and practice for an interview.  After the date and venue has been set, allow time for enough preparation for the big day.  Remember that first impressions do last, so the way an applicant look really does matter.  Employers could easily give the verdict based on the manner of dressing during the initial interview.  

Better questions and service can be received if the appearance itself commands respect.  It is important to consider the surroundings of the company granting you an interview.  There is no reason to be over dressed or poorly dressed during this very significant day.  In fact, it is a good rule of thumb to always dress appropriately for any situation.  All to often appearance is glossed over.  Some might say that the inner characteristics of the person matter more, but in reality, you only have one opportunity for a first impression.  Make it count!

Although there are specific guidelines that can be followed, these does not apply to all states like New York for example, where people wear trendy up to extreme styles that are far away from the usual fashion rules common people know.  The rule of thumb should be to wear something that could boost more confidence.

Below are the top 12 do's and don'ts during an interview:

Ø Avoid wild colored nail polish before the interview.  The same goes with long nails that could easily turn off some conservative employers.  These should be neat and very tidy looking.

Ø Never wear jewelry that rattles and jiggles as you speak and move.  Try not to wear two or more rings or earrings.  Piercing aside from the ears is also a no.

Ø Professional hairdo also counts
Ø If you are a woman, wear closed shoes.  Heels are very appropriate as this gives more confidence to an individual and sense of respect is also provided once they see the person wearing them.

Ø  Again, for the ladies, never bare those newly shaven legs.  If possible, use stockings regardless of the temperature.  But make sure not to use fancy colored ones.  Only use those made for neutral looking legs.  These should also match the shoes.

Ø Remember that a good suit or dress brings more confidence as well.  This will also allow more comfort and chance for the applicant to answer comfortably or with ease.

Ø Avoid short skirts for women.  Wearing pants or leggings are a no, no during interviews.

Ø Wear the appropriate blazers just as long as they do not look fashion outdated.  Do not use any leather coats or jackets.

Ø For men, the tie is still appropriate.  Avoid using turtlenecks.  If there is no suit and tie available, use a collared shirt or white long sleeves.

Ø Men must not use too much aftershave.

Ø Women should be using bags that are not too bright and conspicuous.  These should be conservative and matching the dress.

Ø Any briefcase used must be in perfect condition.

The way a person looks equal the message he is trying to convey.  During the interview, this can either become a plus factor for the applicant or big loss.  Know for a fact that the way an applicant should look must be appealing, fashionable but not loud.

Consider the latest trends in the area or location where the prospective job is located.  One aspect that is a part of how employer picks a new hire is based on the physical attributes of the applicant.  From the way the hands were shaken, keeping an eye contact, the way the posture was maintained, the smile was delivered up to the manner of dressing is being rated already.

Regardless of your personal career background, skills, and underlying talents, if the first impression was never striking enough to make an outstanding appeal to the interviewers, nothing else counts.  This can be the potential employers’ initial interpretation of how an applicant will do on the job.  

Whether that perception is “fair” is irrelevant.  Do you want the job?  Look the part and your chances for success are much greater!