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How to Get an Influential Person to Have Coffee With You

Coffee_Meeting2How would you like to get a once-in-a-life-time opportunity (face-to-face or virtually) to connect with someone famous, or with the Chief Decision Maker at your ideal employer? What if you could meet with a VIP – someone who could give you the inside scoop about one of your target employers? Yes, you can, and all it takes is a cup of coffee and lots of courage!

As a big proponent of going beyond the resume and using unconventional strategies to reach out to employers, I am always looking for unusual ways job seekers can connect with people who can play a role in their job search.

Recently, I learned about Ten Thousand Coffees, a new organization that is making it easy for job seekers to reach out and connect with busy and influential people who they would not normally get a chance to speak with. Its mission is “to connect students, recent grads, and young professionals with industry leaders and experts and engage in life-changing, career making conversations over coffee.” Even if you do not fall within those categories, you can also use the strategies outlined below to meet with an influencer, have coffee, and boost your career opportunities.

Wondering how you should maximize those precious moments when you do connect? Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, offers four ways to connect with powerful people: “Interview them, write about them, do them a favor, and be interesting.”  Here are my suggestions, although not necessarily in the same order:

Make Yourself Interesting. First impression counts, so before you reach out to any of the individuals with whom you would like to connect, do some introspection. Ask yourself, “Apart from my skills and expertise, what else makes me an interesting person?” It could be that you are good at golf; you sew your own clothes, or you won a dance competition. Find ways of incorporating those interests into your profile, especially if the person you are targeting has similar interests. As Dorie says, “Successful professionals like meeting compelling new people.

Interview Them. Prepare a list of questions for your time together. Remember, these individuals are busy people and won’t have time for frivolous questions, so make sure your questions are well-thought out. Your list could include:

  • How did you become a/an ____________?
  • What aspects of your job gives you the most personal satisfaction?
  • What skills and personal qualities are necessary to do your job well?
  • How long have you worked for this organization?
  • What are your major responsibilities?
  • What do you perceive to be the major rewards of this job?
  • What are the major frustrations in this job?
  • What do you like most about this job?
  • What are the most frequently recurring problems?
  • What advice would you give to a person coming into a company, or entering a profession like this?

Write About Them. To gain additional mileage out of your coffee meeting, write an article or blog post about the interview. Break up the interview into mini blog posts and ask readers to comment. Or, if you are active on Twitter, use pieces from the interview as tweets. Not only will you be showcasing your expertise, but your influencer will be impressed. He or she might even retweet your posts. Sooner or later, recruiters and potential employers will begin to take notice of your professional activities.

Do Them a Favour. You may be thinking that there’s no way you could return a favour to this ‘important’ person. Of course you can. First of all, at the end of the interview, ask them this networking question: “How can I help you?” They might quickly dismiss your question by saying “It’s OK, or it’s no big deal.” It may not be a big deal to them, but do them the favour anyway. You could rebroadcast the interview as a podcast, upload it to your YouTube channel, or submit it to news outlets – online and off. It could also be as simple as recommending a restaurant, or sending them an interesting article about one of their competitors. They will thank you for your initiative.

These strategies can help you connect with influential people whether or not you are a part of Ten Thousand Coffees. Are you ready to snag an interview with an influential person? Go ahead!

What’s all the Hype about Pinterest?

Last year, it was Google+, now it’s Pinterest! Social media is exploding at an alarming pace that it’s becoming quite difficult to keep up. At the same time, as a career coach, I have to know what tools are available so I can guide my job-seeking/career transition clients accordingly.

With that, and as an early adapter, I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon and requested an invitation. A couple days later my request was granted and I created an account, curated my websites, then decided to explore the tool in more depth. It has visual appeal, for sure, is great for graphic content and creative job seekers could find ways to build their resumes. As a matter of fact, I found one resume I thought was unique and pinned it to my board.  So, since my foray into the tool two weeks ago, here’s what I found:

  • It is a virtual Pinboard that “lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes”, and may I dare say, create somewhat of a resume.
  • It drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. Shareaolic Report. If it drives more traffic than LinkedIn, should job seekers be playing in that space?
  • Techcrunch reported that it had 11.7 million unique visitors, faster than any other standalone in history. It was also named by Techcrunch as the fastest startup in 2011. How many of those visitors were recruiters and hiring managers?
  • Their goal is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” A bold goal!

In a couple of days I will be speaking to a group of communications, advertising and marketing professionals, and with such a creative bunch, you bet Pinterest will be a part of the discussion!

Can job seekers use this tool to maximize their job search? What are your thoughts?

By the way, if you wish to come along for the ride, you can click here to follow me on Pinterest.

 

Related posts: Can Pinterest Help Your Job Search?.

Own Your Name. Build Your Personal Brand. Up Your Job Search Game

Do you own your name? “Of course, I do”, you say! Last week I hosted a free teleconference for job seekers and professionals to gauge their career plans for 2012, and see if I could help them achieve their goals. I offered some options on how they could up their job search game in the new year, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. A few days later, I had coffee with someone who had missed the call, but who wanted to bring me up-to-date on her next career move. She told me about her plans for the year and about her new website. While discussing the website, I suggested that she claimed her name on the web by registering it as a domain. Her eyes opened widely as in “What do you mean?”

These days whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, one of the first steps to building your personal brand is to claim your name – register your name as a website. I learned this early. You see, actor Jude Law’s former nanny has my name, and I wasn’t aware of it until I heard of the scandal surrounding their alleged affair. Soon after that, I claimed and registered www.daisywright.com and www.daisywright.ca, as domain names through Hostmonster (Affiliate Link). I have since given up the .CA domain.

Why is it important to own your name? The hiring process has changed for job seekers, and personal branding has become very important.  Recruiters and employers don’t rely solely on traditional methods to learn about or evaluate potential employees. They are swamped with résumés, phone calls and emails. It is, therefore, your responsibility to change the way you market your stories and your skills to employers, and raise your visibility because your résumé and cover letter are no longer enough. The same is true for entrepreneurs.

To begin your brand-building process, your first step is to register your name as a domain, if it’s still available.  Use it as a one-stop haven for your social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube (if you’re venturing into videos). When employers and recruiters begin searching for you, or when you need to connect with someone of influence, it’s easy to send them a link to your own website which houses your other profiles.

In a recent Fast Company article, the writer tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a résumé, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. This is a 16-year old! He has already learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years. Twelve months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet.

What about you? Are you ready to step forward and do something as daring as ‘Mr. 16-year old’? Do you own your name on the web? Are your profiles up-to-date and housed in one place? Have you scoured your Facebook profile to make sure that everything is professional? Do you have blog? If not, are you contributing your expertise to industry blogs? If a recruiter or employer begins searching for someone with your stories and skills, will you stand out from the herd, or will you stay hidden in the crowd?

CEOs, HR Executives and recruiters encourage job seekers to use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting a job. One CEO stated in a Boston Globe article that, “We often find hires because of their activity in social media and, especially, the blogosphere.”

A recruiter said, “We like to see candidates who have filled in their LinkedIn profile completely. Upload your resume, and if you are a blogger (and it is relevant to your career), post the link to your blog. With respect toTwitter, she said,”We use Twitter directory tools to find candidates whose bios match our hiring needs.”

The field is too competitive these days for you to continue doing what you have always done and expecting different results. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in bringing visibility to your story. It’s time to up your game, begin building your personal brand and let the job vacancies find you.

Sources:

Five Steps to a Better Brand

Social Media Advice for Job Seekers

 

6 Job Search Tips from Ted Williams – “The Homeless Man with a Golden Voice”

Have you heard of Ted Williams? He is the homeless man whose Youtube video has captured the hearts of millions of people around the world, thanks to a Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III.

Williams is an ex-radio announcer who fell on hard times, but two years ago he changed his lifestyle and began looking for help and for work. Since the Youtube video went viral, he has received so many job offers that he is still trying to determine which offer to take.

As a job seeker, what can you learn from Ted?

1.       Know yourself and what you are good at. Although homeless, Williams knew he had (and still has) a “God-given gift of voice”.

2.       Craft a clear, concise and compelling branded message that’s unique to you. Williams’ crisp cardboard message read, “I have a God given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless. Happy holidays.”

3.       Look for opportunities to demonstrate your value proposition. Williams didn’t just hang out his cardboard sign, but he demonstrated his rich, radio-announcer delivery whenever he got a chance, and he caught Mr. Chenoweth’s attention.

4.       Follow Williams’ example and revamp your resume to make sure it has the right message that will grab attention. Notice he didn’t have a long laundry list of job descriptive statements, but a short and compelling message.

5.       Brush up on your interview skills to be ready to articulate the value you can bring to your next employer. During his subsequent TV appearances, Williams articulately demonstrated his value when asked to do impromptu voice-overs. He was ready!

6.       Never give up, even when the going gets rough. There’s light at the end of your job search tunnel.

Have you hit rock bottom in your job search? Reflect on the Ted Williams’ story, realize your circumstances are not as bad, then pick yourself up and try again!