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Job leads come in many forms. In this article, I want to focus in on those job leads that come from your network, and how to generate them

You may be familiar with the concept of six degrees of separation. This premise of this concept is that within six layers of connection, you can get in touch with anyone on the planet. To relate this concept to networking for a job, within three degrees of separation (knowing someone who knows someone) you are likely to be able to find the hiring manager about two-thirds of the time. Three degrees of separation is more than enough to generate a substantial number of job leads.

Before your network can provide you with leads, they need to know you are in a job search, and they need to know what you are looking for. If you have already sent out your announcement of availability to announce your search and you are keeping your network informed through your status updates, your network should be generally aware of what you need.

Now is the time to start mining your network and making personal contacts to make individual requests for job lead help. It can take a lot of time to find, network in, conduct informational interviews, and expand your network inside a target company. Putting the effort in on the front end of the job search is the most effective way to have a shorter job search.

Start with your Linked In contacts, review them, and build a list of the top 10 most likely to be able to help you. Search their backgrounds and contacts for people in the industries and companies. Contact the people on your list and request a warm introduction to their connections, with the purpose of being introduced for an informational interview. When successfully linked, schedule an appointment for coffee, lunch or just a visit (in person is preferable to by phone) so you can learn more about the industry/company and share your particulars with them. Ask your new connections to introduce you to others for additional informational interviews.

Once your top ten is fully worked, re-examine your contacts for the next ten, and as they say in the shampoo industry, rinse, lather, repeat. Working your contacts in small groups like this generate activity at a level you are likely able to sustain in terms of responsiveness and appointment times on calendars. Too few, and not enough progress or activity is generated. Too much, and you won’t be able to respond and keep up with the demand, alienating your network.

Join the LinkedIn groups related to your interests – industry, company, professional. These groups often have local chapters or affiliates, attend the local meetings to continue building your network. At those meetings, introduce yourself with your 30 second or 2 minute drill, pass out business cards and ask if it is okay for you to send your new contacts a Linked In introduction. As your network grows, and you work the “top ten” segments of your network, these new connections will filter in to the segments.

Tweet My Jobs and Tweet My Resume on Twitter are social networking tools you can use to augment your job lead generation. By following and being followed on Twitter, you are developing another aspect of getting your network involved in generating job leads for you.

Remember to track this activity on your job log, you’ll need it to help you keep track of your interactions with your network and develop/complete your action items.

The more contacts you build and informational interviews you hold in your target industries and target companies, the better the chances are of getting job leads in the areas of your interests.

Social Media sites like Linked In, Facebook, Google + and Twitter offer additional important channels to develop job leads. Getting your announcement of availability out to your network and using the status update to keep your network informed is easier than ever with Social Media.

Using the Social Media sites to post job search activity updates will help keep you top of mind in the networkers that frequently use these sites.

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Leave Behinds

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Leave behinds consist of collateral material to give to anyone who interviews you. It may consist of a package of different items, such as a resume, cover letter, business card, letters of recommendation, references, a short article referencing something you’ve published that is relevant to the job or industry.

You’ve made it through the screening process and onto the desk of the hiring manager.

The hiring manager has reviewed your resume, and decided that you’ve made the short-list, two or three candidates that will be interviewed and ranked for fit and finish.

You nailed the interview, and upon reflection,  felt pretty good that an offer was forthcoming.

Whether or not you performed well enough in the interview isn’t the question – it’s how well did your performance stick in the mind of the hiring manager. One way to encourage that stickiness factor is with a well-prepared set of Leave Behinds that can potentially act as triggers for the hiring manager.

Coming to an interview, prepared to leave behind a package of documents with each person you interview with can give you that edge that is the difference between an offer and a rejection letter.

So, what do you include in a Leave Behind package?  In my view, the Leave Behind package should be customized to the interviewing opportunity. When you’ve scheduled an interview, start doing your homework. Find out all you can about the people who will be interviewing you. Research their profiles on Linked In. Google them. Check your network contacts to see if anyone knows them.

A basic leave behind package consists of a business card, cover letter and resume.  You can add in references (specifically check for references that might be known to the company and the hiring manager) if you like. If there is a work sample that you’ve produced that might be relevant, include it. If you are published or quoted, you make prepare a document of links to those materials.

Depending on how formal you want to be, you can build your leave behind package into a folder or bind it into a simple covered document.

This simple show of initiative may be all it takes to move from the reject pile to the offer letter, and with all other things being equal, your leave behind package will likely make the difference between you and #2.

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Job Search Table of Contents Page

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Job Search Table of Contents Page

Your 30 second drill is your impromptu elevator speech, and is a shortened version of the 2 minute drill.  It’s useful for networking in those spur-of-the-moment, unexpected opportunities.  Many times in an impromptu situations, 30 seconds is all you will have to deliver your message, a practiced 30 second drill will help you make the most of those 30 seconds.

ž  Your networking short introduction speech

ž  Practice it until it is second nature
(30 second nature)

ž  Useful in impromptu situations

ž  I am …

ž  I do …

ž  I’ve done …

ž  My differentiating strengths are … (no more than 3)

ž  My targets are …

ž  Give a card if appropriate (you keep a couple in your wallet/purse).

Here is my sample 30 second drill:

ž  Hello, I’m Gerry Mann

ž  I am in Information Technology Leadership and Management, as a VP, IT or Director IT.

ž   I do Project Management, Business Analysis, Total Quality Management, IT Management, Software Development and Quality Assurance for Fortune 100 companies.

ž  My differentiating strengths are solving complex problems, working with diverse teams and communicating across all levels of the organization.

ž  My targets are: Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Safety-Kleen, United Health Care and Chase.

If it is appropriate, at the end of the 30 second drill you can ask for help.

Besides the time difference, the 30-second drill is different than the two-minute drill in that the two-minute drill is designed specifically for networking events where the one-on-one exchange of two minute drills happens many times successively. The goal being to find out about people and grow your network. The 30-second drill is more oriented toward impromptu circumstances and is designed to raise awareness in a limited time period. It may or may not result in a networking opportunity and it does give you the change to get your message out through a channel that did not exist before.

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