If you’re looking for work, the first thing you need to realize is that you already have a new job. It is a sales position with You Incorporated and you are the CEO and sales manager. Your only product is YOU and you must find a buyer.
Consider first that many good jobs are never advertised, they are filled through personal connections. To increase your possibility of getting one of these jobs you must expand your network of contacts. To begin, stop thinking that you need to know influential people. This is not always the case. Someone with a job is often influential enough because they may know of opportunities within their company or might be able to inquire on your behalf.
The trick to networking is being clear what you want to accomplish and successfully communicating that to people you meet or speak with. Make it clear that you would like them to search through their network for a potential opportunity for you. Finally you must give them the tools they need to help you. For high level contacts who are decision makers or one step away from a decision maker you might want to offer a copy of your resume. This will help them better understand your skills and what you have to offer. For everyone else I recommend that you have business cards made to be sure that people in your network easily know the type of position you require and how to contact you. If a resume is a synopsis of your life experience then you business card is a synopsis of your resume.
Jan Solomon recruiter for Six Degrees Network in San Francisco agrees that this approach can be helpful and says that an applicant with a business card indicates to her that the person is resourceful and prepared. Jan suggests that job seekers include keywords on their business card. Keywords are used to scan resumes for terms and words that match an employer’s requirements. These keywords might include various software applications or specific job skills. Jan further suggests that you include your job title. Of course you will also need contact information including phone and email. Street address is probably not essential but could be helpful. If you have an online resume, portfolio or website you might want to be sure it is included. Anything you think might help an employer or referral partner understand better what you do.
Here is a great idea from New England recruiter Vincent Wright who is also the owner of MyLinkingPowerForum.com. Vincent tells me that he owns several domains featuring his name. VincentWright.com points to his profile at LinkedIn.com; VincentWright.net points to his profile at facebook.com; and VincentWright.us points to his profile on twitter. In this way he has a short unique URL for each of his online networking profiles. Consider grabbing a domain with your name and point it to your own website or online profile as a way of easily communicating where interested individuals can find more information about you. You can search for inexpensive domain names at www.mlpfdomains.com. Then have you’re your unique URL printed on your personal business card.
Business cards are cheap, easy to give away and easy for people to keep handy. One thousand business cards will likely cost you under $50. That’s pretty cheap compared to the benefits of a job. The ideal business card says who you are, what you do and how to contact you. Take a look at online business card printers like www.vistaprint.com where you can get free business cards printed (you pay shipping) in return for having a small imprint of theirs on the reverse side, or visit your local print shop or office supply store.
Lastly get those business cards out working for you. Let’s say you have finally taken the advice of your friends and started networking. Maybe you’ve attended a local business mixer or industry meeting. You’ve probably walked around thinking “now what?” How do you do it? What do you say? Who do you talk to? Introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Inquire what the other person does and seriously consider how you might help them. When it’s your turn tell him or her that you have recently worked for whatever company and state your past title or job position. Indicate that you are currently looking for a new opportunity and offer your business card. In nearly every case the person you speak with will ask you further questions. If they indicate that they are not certain how they can help, ask the person to simply hang on to your card in case they think of someone with whom you might network further. Don’t limit your networking to business functions. Give business cards to your friends and family members and others you meet. Ask them to share those cards with people they know.
This is a numbers game. Do not focus on where an individual card might go. Just think if you pass out 10 cards you have 10 new possibilities. What if you pass out 100 or 1,000? The only card that matters is the one that makes your phone ring with an invitation for an interview. This is your job now. Like any entrepreneur you need to be sure your product is known and talked about. You are in control of your future. Sell yourself.
Reno Lovison, is the author of “Turn Your Business Card Into Business” www.businesscardtobusiness.com .