We embark on this long strange trip called transition on our own terms. And even though my trip was unique, I learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you, the friends and fellow networkers that propelled me towards this ultimate goal. I split this blog post into three parts to be released over the next few weeks: Part I discusses my overall strategy; Part II covers the technology that I used to accelerate my strategy; and Part III details how I used that strategy and technology to cultivate a thriving network.
Part I—The Farmer Strategy
“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow.”—Einstein
For me, finding a position came down to one thing—never stop planting seeds. That means finding every possible way to tell your story to every possible person that will listen. In the end, I interacted with more than four hundred senior executives. One of the greatest lessons I learned from all of those people is that the best opportunities come from the most unlikely places.
The experts say that having a killer resume, a compelling cover letter and a refined elevator pitch are the keys to finding your dream job. I’m not so convinced. In the end, no matter how pithy your pitch may be, I believe the difference maker will be the sheer number of personal connections you make along the way.
For the past three months I averaged about four networking calls and 10 email communications per day. I attended dozens of networking events from the San Fernando Valley to the Conejo Valley, West Los Angeles and all the way down to San Diego through Newport, Irvine and Laguna Niguel. One thing I learned from those mixers is that you might as well stay home unless you’re committed to following up with every single person you meet.
At a minimum, I did three things after making a connection at an event:
1. Send an email requesting a follow up conversation.
2. Talk on the phone or meet for coffee soon after the event.
3. Follow up with an invitation on LinkedIn.
If you want to be more aggressive and have access to a comprehensive list of attendees, you can reach out to folks you didn’t have time to meet at the event. They were there to network, so why not take the initiative?
There were times when all my networking felt like a constructive waste of time. I communicated with so many executives that occasionally I felt overwhelmed. I think the most embarrassing was when I called the same person twice in one day and didn’t even realize it! But despite the missteps, I now see that every new relationship got me one important step closer to my ultimate goal.
Getting your own personal message out there is actually the easy part. Absorbing and taking action on everybody else’s message is where things tend to get messy. How do you internalize more than 400 names, let alone that many elevator pitches? Since I’m not Rain Man, I looked to technology to make sense of the information overload.
In a later post I’ll cover the three technologies I integrated into my search: CRM, Social Networks and Blogs.