Kendell Brown is a member of the iRelaunch Career Coaching team and our resident expert on resume-writing serivces for relaunchers. Founder of Ascension Careers and a relauncher herself, She works with clients with to ascertain and achieve their career goals via strategic planning, positioning and branding assessments, identifying transferable skills and providing counsel for working through challenging work situations.
How to build a relationship with an advocate who is invested in your relaunch goals
You’re looking for a job and you know you’ve got to network. Good.
You’re even willing to network. Great!
Now it’s just a matter of the right conversation with the right person and you’ve got a new job. Awesome! ...
... Not so fast. Networking should be more than just a bunch of coffees and random lunches in hopes of getting a job. Networking should be about creating advocates, meaning you want to find someone who is willing to utilize their “professional capital” on you and therefore recommend and champion you.
Consider these networking scenarios:
Jane is looking to re-enter the workforce, and she’s reached out to a former colleague, Suzanne. Suzanne and Jane did a few work projects together years ago and things seemed to always go well. Now Suzanne has agreed to meet Jane to discuss Jane’s career relaunch.
Jane and Suzanne talk and spend time catching up. During the conversation, Jane tells Suzanne she’s really excited about getting back to work and asks Suzanne to keep in her mind if something comes along that may be of interest to Jane. Wanting to be helpful, Suzanne says “Sure” and asks for Jane’s resume.
Lo and behold, three months later, Suzanne learns that Cindy is hiring for an open position. Suzanne isn’t sure that this is something that Jane’s qualified to do nor is she sure whether this position will appeal to Jane. As a matter of fact, Suzanne isn’t even sure that Jane is still looking. But again, wanting to be helpful, Suzanne hands Jane’s resume to Cindy and says “Hey, my old colleague, Jane, is interested in your open position, here’s her resume." Most likely when Suzanne passes along the resume, Cindy’s busy doing something else. So, Jane’s resume goes to the stack of resumes that Cindy will eventually read and Jane’s candidacy will be considered along with everyone else’s.
Doesn’t this sound like a great outcome? Jane had just one chat with Suzanne and now her resume is on a hiring manager’s desk. What more could Jane want? The truth is Jane could want a lot more. But she’ll have to work a little harder to get it.
Jane is still looking to relaunch her career and is connecting with her former colleague, Suzanne. Jane takes Suzanne out for a coffee and asks what’s been happening with Suzanne’s career. During coffee, Jane shares that she’s planning to re-enter the workforce and is currently taking some time to research roles and companies. Suzanne suggests that Jane visit the iRelaunch website (Suzanne just hired a relauncher who said that iRelaunch provides tons of valuable info).
A few weeks later, Jane emails Suzanne and thanks her for the iRelaunch recommendation. Jane mentions that she’s feeling much more confident about returning, because she now recognizes she developed valuable skills during her five years on the PTO Executive Board. Additionally, Jane says that through her research she’s identified a few roles that fit her skillset. Suzanne responds with a quick “That’s great! Keep me posted on the search.”
After a few months, Jane is still job searching. She’s had numerous informational interviews, a few formal interviews and a three-week unpaid internship. Jane has kept Suzanne abreast of how things are going via emails and another coffee date. With each email and conversation, Jane shares that she has become even more focused on the type of role she wants and how her skills will contribute.
Jane and Suzanne just had lunch, during which Jane told Suzanne that her company just posted a position that would be perfect. Jane then confessed concern about getting an interview because she didn’t match all of the criteria in the posting. Suzanne replied, “Give me your resume. I’m getting you this interview.”
Why in Scenario One did Suzanne simply drop off Jane’s resume whereas in Scenario 2 Suzanne commits to getting Jane an interview?
- Scenario One
Suzanne knows that Jane is looking for a job. When Suzanne learns of a job opening – she does all she can – she passes along Jane’s resume.
- Scenario Two
Suzanne has gotten to know Jane over a period of time and they develop a mutual, trusting relationship. Suzanne understands Jane’s commitment to return to work and she’s now invested in Jane’s goal. Consequently, she’s willing to do a lot more than just drop off a resume. Suzanne will advocate (and advocate effectively) for Jane because she knows: 1) exactly what type of job Jane wants and 2) the skills and experiences Jane will leverage in a new role.
How did Jane cultivate a relationship with Suzanne? Why would Suzanne become Jane’s advocate in Scenario Two? Let’s review:
- Jane built and sustained a relationship with Suzanne vs having one “networking” conversation
- Jane listened to Suzanne’s advice and acted upon it
- Jane didn’t ask Suzanne for anything right away
- Jane articulated to Suzanne specific roles and types of positions she wanted
- Jane shared with Suzanne how she could leverage her background and prior experiences
- Jane’s updates proved to Suzanne her commitment to returning to work
The long-term relationship allowed Suzanne to get to know Jane and thus feel comfortable recommending her. Now that’s an ideal outcome.