Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Get Down to Business: 10 Qualities of Strong Job Seekers

August 11, 2017

I have had the good fortune of meeting and counseling thousands of job seekers during my life.

Former interns and co-workers, my alumni network, congressional aides, reporters and editors seeking to transition their careers, college professors on behalf of their top students, graduates of my own online course, colleagues in professional associations, and employers who have hired my mentees and want more employees like them all contact me for advice. Networking is the name of the game, and it beats solely searching for job postings.

After years of giving advice, it has become easy for me to spot the job seekers who have the most promise. They often exhibit these 10 attributes in exploring new positions or chances for advancement.

1. They know what they want and don’t want.

If an applicant says they are open to anything in any city, then I know that it’s far too broad for me to be helpful. Job seekers need to conduct research and know the types of positions, particular locations, and specific organizations they’d prefer working for to be able to secure specific recommendations and leads. Networking is more productive if people are realistic about their capabilities, experience and optimum job environments.

2. They are not obsessed with their résumés.

Résumés are essential, and should be complete, factual, concise and have no typographical or grammatical errors. However, it is excessive for someone to hire a résumé editor in the first 10 years of their career. Instead, job seekers should focus on WordPress sites, portfolios, short videos, business cards and other tools that complement their résumé.

3. They exhibit strong listening skills.

Time is precious for all parties. I do not need your life story or history of career failures to learn more about you and to offer some tips on networking targets and job leads. It is helpful if the person I am counseling is prepared to take good notes and to follow up quickly after our session. The first conversation we have — whether it’s on the phone, via email or in person — is not intended to be the only or last networking session.

4. They offer feedback and explanations in a purposeful and concise way.

The way people answer my questions is indicative of how they would do so in a formal job interview — and sometimes I am looking for talent to join our agency. Therefore, I appreciate those who are professional and provide constructive feedback.

5. They maintain a robust LinkedIn profile.

Employers I work with consult LinkedIn in almost every circumstance to learn about a job seeker’s career history. One should always try to maintain a positive online social media presence, especially during a job search.

6. They possess strong references and relationships.

It speaks volumes when someone takes the time and effort to ask for support and recommendations. Likewise, those who serve as references to young people are special individuals. It matters who you select, how well you know them and whether you trust what they say. For those who offer no substantive references: It will be a longer, more arduous job search without the human capital.

7. They connect with me, and other references, on social media.

If a prospective job seeker contacts me on LinkedIn or Twitter after a counseling session, I see it as positive and not presumptuous. Bring on the connections and the networking for life.

8. They’re willing to tap connections in their home state and alumni networks.

It speaks volumes when young people (or older adults seeking new career paths) have not consulted their home state or alumni networks. People in cities come from all over the globe, and we need to use every asset we have at our disposal in seeking jobs.

9. They are open to learning new skills, volunteering and meeting new people.

I look for individuals who are willing to take risks through internships, studying abroad and sometimes even delaying graduation by a semester for experiential opportunities. I also often invite people I have just met to accompany me to professional or networking events so they can meet people in a short time frame. Those who do not hesitate to take me up on the offer go up a rung on the ladder.

10. They follow up.

It doesn’t take much time to send a thank-you email or handwritten note, or offer a gesture that might help you stand out to someone who can guide your career search. The person who included a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card in her handwritten thank-you note, for instance, is someone I still periodically get lunch with.


Mike Fulton directs Asher Agency’s Washington, D.C. office and teaches public affairs at West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. He worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and has been in communications and advocacy for the past 25 years. Connect with him at mikef@asheragency.com. This blog post originally appeared in PRSA Tactics. 

Building your network while helping others is a two-way street

January 20, 2016

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The first month of the New Year is an excellent time to meet new professionals or to reconnect with those individuals we have helped or who have assisted us.  During January and February, I will find room in my calendar for at least two dozen meetings over coffee, lunches or happy hours.

I might be one of the luckiest guys alive or the biggest sucker for meeting new people, hearing their personal and professional stories and trying to see how I might lend a hand.  I have been doing this for decades, and I think it is the “curiosity” of being a former news reporter and Congressional  staffer.

These networking / mentoring sessions have made me a smarter, richer person.  More times than not, I receive far more than I offer.

No matter how busy you are, I encourage you to make time for others.  It will benefit you in many, many ways over the years.  Instead of deleting those invitations to trade association, alumni or office happy hours, take a chance and put your best foot forward.

The benefits of networking are endless, but here are some specific ways I am richer for meeting new people or staying in touch with my associates:

There are people I have met over the years who I enjoy getting together with for coffee or lunch and comparing notes about current events, the state of advocacy and communications, or other topics.

  • I needed a contact at a specific pharmaceutical company for a non-profit client and I turned to LinkedIn to see who might work there or be connected to the firm. I emailed a connection (a former client from the past) and within an hour I was emailing with the pharmaceutical company executive in charge.
  • I visited a Congressional contact from some years ago at his current place of employment, and it turns out my agency had a solution to some specific needs of his organization. They are now my second-largest client.
  • People I have helped when they graduated from college or who were between jobs are now hiring managers and I am able to refer promising professionals to them for job opportunities.
  • I went to lunch with a grassroots professional as a favor to an associate who wanted to know if he was experienced enough to teach an online course. I was blown away by his talent. He is now teaching in the program and we have partnered on several projects that benefit the government relations profession.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved in networking and mentoring:

  • Take a chance and attend a happy hour or event with an organization you have wondered about and might like to join.
  • Exchange your business card with interesting people there and follow up via email to see if a follow up meeting might be warranted.
  • Contact your alma mater to see if any students or young alumni need some career guidance or a guest speaker.
  • Tweet or post your professional insights so others might learn from you and your experiences. One of my friend in PRSA is actually tweeting a “mentoring tip of the day” throughout January.

There seems to be a new awakening after the holiday break and a newfound enthusiasm to start off 2016 with some resounding successes. It is not too late to get started.

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency (www.asheragency.com) and teaches Public Affairs IMC 638 at the master’s level for West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program.

Connect with Mike at mikef@asheragency.com; @hillrat1156 or on LinkedIn.

#Integrate15: Networking

May 30, 2015

The day sessions at INTEGRATE are a fascinating, educational component of the two-day experience. Equally enjoyable, however, are the opportunities to socialize outside of these scheduled presentations.

I’ve met WVU IMC instructors, former classmates, fellow bloggers and new IMC friends. INTEGRATE conversations are an incredible reminder of the range of talent and experience connected with this conference.

Here are some photos from Friday’s Graduate Pinning Ceremony and Networking Reception:

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Shout out to my fellow WVU IMC bloggers attending #Integrate15! I first met Kat and Julie last year at INTEGRATE. Sarah and I met at graduation in May; we also shared the same Capstone course. It’s great connecting with these bloggers in person.

 

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WVU IMC graduates participating in the Graduate Pinning Ceremony on Friday. Thanks to Tyler for snapping this shot with a selfie stick!

 

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Becky, Becky and I thought we would take a “Rebecca” photo as we all share the same name. This was my first time meeting these two, and they were so friendly! One of the great things about INTEGRATE is how easy it is to start a conversation with anyone attending. Meeting others who share your passion (and in my case, name!) is always inspiring.

 

What was your favorite part about Friday evening’s events? Did you meet any former classmates or instructors?

 

INTEGRATE2014: Nice to meet you.

May 31, 2014

Raise your hand if you’ve met former professors, fellow classmates, and new friends at INTEGRATE2014. *raises hand*

Earlier today I had the opportunity to meet Jessica while I was waiting for the afternoon breakout session, “Creative Strategist| Strategic Creative- Which One Are You Becoming?”

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Jessica and I were in the same Brand Equity Management class.

I’m also excited that I met Dr. Freberg, who is teaching my current PR Concepts and Strategy class. Plus, spending time with fellow IMC bloggers Kat and Julie has been so much fun! And let’s not forget our session speakers. Yesterday I had lunch with NASCAR’s David Higdon. It’s very inspiring to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about integrated marketing communications.

What has been your favorite networking aspect of INTEGRATE? How many fellow classmates have you met?

Preparing for Integrate!

May 23, 2014

I am ecstatic to be attending INTEGRATE next week. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it to Morgantown before I graduated, but am thrilled I was able to use this conference as a professional development experience this year. Before heading out I wanted to share with you five of my tips for attending conferences.

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  • Pre-network: I’m a bit of an introvert and walking into a networking session not knowing anybody is very challenging for me. One thing I do to prepare for this is to reach out to people on Facebook, Twitter, and in class to see who is attending and when they’ll be arriving. That way I’ve already started to make connections with people and feel more comfortable walking into those events. (I’m serious…if you see me walk right up and say hi. Networking is only awkward for the first few minutes.)
  • Bring business cards! It may seem like a no brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times people have asked for my card and I’m out. Additionally, I’ve notice that my phone number isn’t on there. I write my office number of the back of the cards in advance so that it doesn’t take time away from a great conversation. I also find it very beneficial to write on the back of someone else’s business card how I met them or something else to help me remember them. You meet a lot of people at conferences and even though you think you’ll remember them chances are you won’t!
  • Research and schedule: I find that I can look through the conference schedule 100 times beforehand, plan everything out, and as soon as I get to the conference I go rogue. All my planning goes out the window and I find sessions that I didn’t see before that might be interesting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do recommend looking at the schedule in advance. I also think that doing a little background research on the keynote speakers helps you be more engaged in the presentation and helps you make a connection with the presenter if there’s time for questions.
  • Develop your system: While I was at the ACUI conference in April I was still trying to figure out how to make the most of my conference experience during the conference. I was taking notes in Evernote on my iPad and my iPhone. There was a syncing issue and I lost everything that had been documented on my phone. I recommend trying to figure out a system so that you’re not scrambling to document things or lose valuable information.
  • Dive in: Again, not rocket science, but I do think it is valuable information. Like I said, I’m a bit of an introvert and buying into things that are out of my comfort zone is not always an easy task. I encourage you to dive right into the conference so that you don’t walk away saying “I wish I would have tried this” or “I wish I would have done that.” You only get one chance to build these connections and have these experiences, so it’s important that you take advantage of them.

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I hope you found this information beneficial. If you see me at an event or session please come up and say hi. I really do love meeting new people! I also encourage you to join the Facebook event so you can “pre-network” with others that are attending!

Job Hunting Advice Reality

January 15, 2013

I’m back!  I am very happy to be back blogging for the IMC program after a short, unexpected absence.

In October, unfortunately, I was a victim of a major reduction in force (RIF) at a small, for-profit college that I worked for in Indianapolis.  I hold no grudges.  It was a difficult time for the college and they needed to make the right business decisions. The economy is still recovering and at the end of the day businesses often need to re-evaluate resources to stay profitable.  I get it.

Have multiple resumes!

Have multiple resumes!

The one thing that became very evident when I started looking for a new position was how dramatically searching for a job has changed with the emergence of social media and the sheer number of candidates out in the marketplace.  There are over 12 million people unemployed in the United States according to the December 2012 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a big number.

I have learned a lot in my search and here is some basic job hunting advice and suggestions from a 15 week job hunter:

  • Have your resume professionally evaluated and written.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money but it is always good to have a professional writer work on your resume.  That’s what they do for a living.  You wouldn’t have a dentist fix your car, would you?  Once the basic resume is written and before you approve it as final, ask a few people who you trust and will give you honest feedback to review the resume and give you their constructive thoughts.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is, essentially, a business networking site. Use it as it was intended.  Your LinkedIn profile should emulate your resume so that you have good integration between both sources.  When people search they will be more apt to find you.
  • Shout from the mountain tops that your are in the market for a new position.  Don’t be embarrassed about it.  It is a fact of our society right now.  Lots of people are looking.  You are likely not going to find a job sending out resumes through job search sites.  Your resume goes into a dBase along with thousands of others. Your chances of getting noticed are slim.  You probably will find a job by one-on-one networking and meeting with people.
  • Develop a routine so you don’t get in a rut.  Sure, take a week to gather yourself if you can afford to do so but don’t make that your new lifestyle.  Get up in the morning as though have a job, shower, get dressed and get to work.  Your job is finding a job.  It’s too easy to lay around and feel pity for yourself.  Get out of the house. Have lunch or coffee with old co-workers and new contacts. They probably don’t have a job for you but they might know someone who does and can provide some great ideas for your search.
  • Avoid paying a firm that will “find you a job”.  They are expensive and, in reality, you can find a job on your own if you put the work in.
  • Be careful when talking with recruiter or headhunters.  Some are very good and others are the used car salespeople of the industry.  Remember they will build you up and tell you how great you are but they work for someone else.  I have worked with a few who I trust and respect. Others will tell you whatever they can and then you never hear back from them.
  • And finally, when you see a job you are interested in, do two things.  Research the company thoroughly. Are they really the type of company you want to work for?  What looks great on paper might not be reality.  And second, look at your LinkedIn contacts to see if there are any 2nd or 3rd degree connections that can help you learn about the company and get you connected to some of the company employees.

For anyone searching for a new job, best of luck.  For those that are working, be thankful for what you have.

Til next time!