Archives for follow-up

Networking 401 for the Network-Disabled: Following Up 

If you have experienced moments as I described in posts from previous weeks (Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301), such as fears of being imposing, too aggressive, not interesting enough, etc., then following up will potentially, if not certainly, trigger more thoughts of the same.

Even if you felt as though there was a strong rapport and that the person seemed genuinely interested in connecting again, analysis paralysis can strike and cause procrastination, which may present in full-blown failure to follow up. This stage is where you determine the return on your investment of time, energy, and occasionally money, in your networking endeavors.

I’ve been prone to overthinking when needing to follow up, even though I’m consciously aware that the best practice is to follow up the next day while people’s memories are still fresh. If someone you met was wildly popular, I’d wait a couple of days for the eager beavers to filter through.

If you find yourself unable to follow up promptly, don’t abandon hope that you’ll be able to generate opportunity because you are late. Like being serendipitously late to an event, sometimes delays can benefit you. 

Firstly, if when you first met you mentioned a resource, introduction, or information that you thought would be immediately helpful, deliver it. Then ask the person to schedule a follow-up call or meeting. If you’re not able to deliver, then at least update them. Perhaps a follow-up conversation would help you deliver better.

The objective, once you have met someone digitally or in real life, is to allocate more time to get better acquainted. This can look like a lot of things, some of which you may even enjoy!  We are all time-starved. Rather than resorting to an email, where most people I know are over-flooded with incoming communications, see if there is a medium that is already a part of the person’s daily, weekly, or monthly flow – someplace they’ll already be, but where their attention isn’t diverted to too many other demands. 

WHERE TO FOLLOW UP:

In real life

If you both mentioned a love of hiking or some other activity, tie that into your next plans. Perhaps there is a group hike you can both attend where you can not only get to know each other better, but can also help each other meet other people.  

When one person I was introduced to told me that she couldn’t talk on a Tuesday because she was attending a flower show that I also had considered attending, I suggested we meet there. And we did. And we wound up spending a whole day together appreciating flowers and flower artisans. We were also able to write that flower show off as work expenses, along with the expenses of getting there. 

If this person works or lives somewhere near you or somewhere you want to go, you can double leverage your time and schedule other activities or errands, let them know and offer to go when they have time to meet. 

On social media

Perhaps personal interests didn’t come up. Do a bit of personal research. See what you can discern from social media. If you met someone and only talked business, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, but not Facebook or Instagram (unless their business is on Instagram.) You may not be on Twitter, but I have found that people who tweet regularly tend to divulge personal opinions you may not see them sharing on other social media.  If you think your audience isn’t using Twitter – think again. It takes but a minute to check. If they are on Twitter and tweet daily, this is the best way to catch them in the flow of their day.  

If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone, you only have 300 characters. Not everyone is active on LinkedIn. If you see that your contact has only a few connections, little content in their profile, and no recent activity, they may not see your invitation for a while, if at all.  If this is the case, use a backup method. 

Phone/Texting

How many times do you answer your phone when you don’t know the number calling? Rarely, I’d bet, unless you are a busy salesperson. The art of calling people has really become the art of leaving a message. The rules are simple: don’t be a telemarketer. 

Often when I leave a message, I let the other person know that they can respond via text to let me know their availability to speak. I may also let them know that I will follow up with an email or LinkedIn message (if I know they use it daily). This gives them options to respond in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Video Conference

Though I don’t prefer it because when I don’t have meetings scheduled I like to save time by staying in leisure clothes (okay, pajamas), I accommodate requests to video chat because there is something deeper about looking at someone when you talk. It can be a bit awkward, however, with delays, cameras that don’t line up with your eyesight (so you look like you’re looking elsewhere), and technical difficulties.  It’s still the next best thing to meeting in person, and you don’t have to take time to travel anywhere (just to get camera-ready.)

All of the above

Ideally, somehow you are tracking all of your networking outreach efforts. (We have a toolkit for that). I suggest trying a variety of social media outlets. You may find success with one method where others have failed.  

HOW TO FOLLOW UP:

KISS

Write or say a sentence that reminds the person how and where you met, and why you decided to follow up, specifically how you think you can help each other. 

The logistics of making time to network are challenging for most people. You can make this easy and minimize the time needed to exchange communications just to schedule by sharing a scheduling link. Calend.ly offers free accounts where you can sync with your other calendars and provide people with a link that lets them book right on your schedule. Networking meetings by phone require 20 minutes. You may upgrade your account to also offer happy hour or coffee/lunch meetings that would be longer. You may also give them a choice between the two, but that’s not quite as simple. 

Yes, everyone has to eat. You can make that point. We all know, however, that eating takes much longer when you combine it with talking, so you turn a 30-minute lunch easily into a 90-minute lunch.

Add value

Send an article, information, event registration link, RFP link, LinkedIn profile link, or something else you suspect will be of value based on your brief meeting. 

HOW OFTEN/LONG TO FOLLOW UP:

12-call rule

I have had sales training that taught me that, statistically, it can take a salesperson 12 calls before securing a sale. Thinking about it, I believe I have worked with vendors who were patiently persistent, special emphasis on the “patiently.” If you have someone who has explicitly expressed an interest in what you offer, give them every chance you can to follow through. 

5-touch rule

Even for general networking, I would say that five attempts to contact someone are sufficient and that often four falls short. As explained by all of the above methods, don’t make touch-base using the same media every time. Maximize your chances of interrupting someone’s attention by using first what you think they use most often, but where you aren’t competing with many others for their attention. At least one of these methods should be a call. 

On the last attempt, just as a courtesy to them and out of consideration of their time, let them know it’s the last attempt. You probably wouldn’t believe how often I have seen this work. In fact, to quote contacts that I have reached out to on the 5th contact, as well as many other clients who I recommended follow through with one last (5th) attempt, the contacts said that they “appreciated the persistence.” Truly – people want to help. Everyone’s time and energy is being pulled by different priorities. Making that 5th attempt is a way to acknowledge that someone genuinely wants to connect/help/be helped, but has other priorities which you can empathize with. 

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

Target Company Sponsors and Informants

When one of your contacts has inside knowledge or influence to increase your chances of getting an interview (based on need, not necessarily a formal job posting,) do your homework before you take their time. Come up with five to seven questions, each of which your contact can answer in a minute or less. I suggest comparing what you learn about a company, opportunity, and boss with a set list of 25-50 criterions, including some must-haves and some ideal (jackpot) criteria.  Whatever you can’t determine through online research is potentially something you can learn from your contact. 

Someone willing to help you by giving you insight may or may not be willing to help you by getting your résumé to the hiring manager. Be direct in your request – “Would you be willing to make an introduction to the Director of Technology?” OR “I’ve tried applying already. Would you be willing to send my résumé directly to the hiring manager?” OR “Do you know who the hiring manager is on this?” I recommend you also ask if their company has a referral bonus program and if you can use their name as the person who referred you. 

Some may say “no” based their perceived influence, or lack thereof, their lack of relationship, or lack of access to the hiring manager. Some companies have policies that prevent this. It’s not always about their willingness to help. Again, be empathetic here. If they can’t help you by sponsoring you (being the source of your referral into the company or introducing you to the hiring manager), ask them how most of the people who are hired make their way in, NOT the best way to apply. Applying always implies a website these days; that’s the answer you’ll get. 

Respect people’s time/schedule

If you say you are only asking for XX minutes, make sure that you only take XX minutes. Keep your eye on the time and let them know when you only have a couple of minutes left. If by the end of that time you feel that you have only scratched the surface, suggest that you pick a new time right then and there to continue the conversation, and suggest that you allocate more time next time, and perhaps combine it with a meal or activity. 

Tickler

The same way I hope you are tracking your outreach activities and contacts, I hope that you have a way to remind yourself to follow up with people every so often. Within the month of your follow up meeting, then every three months is a good best practice, but not always possible. Some people you may not follow up with for another 6 months. Make a note of when their busy season is and try to avoid following up then.  

This is the last article in the Networking for the Networking-Disabled series. If you have not read those, click on the following links: Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301.

I hope that you are inspired and feel better prepared to start expanding your sphere of influence and fulfillment.  It does get more comfortable the more you do it, and you’ll definitely feel more motivated once you have some great outcomes resulting from your efforts. Imagine those outcomes now. What kind of magic do you want networking to make possible in your life?

Blondie – Call Me (Official Video)

Official video of Blondie performing Call Me from the soundtrack of the movie American Gigolo. #Blondie #CallMe #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

What to Say When You Follow Up

Research by teresaphillips1965 on Flickr

Analysis paralysis is a phenomenon that happens when you hesitate taking action until you have enough data, which is an enigma.

It’s valuable to do research before reaching out to an employer. There are some things you should know: the leaders, the customers, the products and services, the current and short-term future initiatives, and the culture, etc.

Once you reach out, however, many job seekers fail to follow up, and miss the opportunity to get the application and/or résumé read.

Analysis paralysis is sometimes at fault. It can also be fear or not wanting to be perceived as too aggressive or annoying, which is also fear. Often I hear it’s not knowing what to say, and how to come off as enthusiastic versus desperate.

This post assumes you have sent your individual (versus group copied) thank you notes to all who were involved in getting you to that stage AND that you asked before the conclusion of your interview what the next steps and timeline is.

I don’t assume that you invited everyone to connect with you on LinkedIn with a customized message because very few people do this. That is because most people think of an interview as transactional instead of potentially transformational.

That is true of job search networking in general. Many people have a “What can you do for me now” perspective, which limits success in the short term, but more importantly in the long term. If you invest more time diversifying and deepening your network, making anything happen becomes a matter of making some calls and scheduling some meetings.

So, within 48 hours of your interview, you have sent individual thank yous and customized LinkedIn invitations. Then let’s say you were told that there would be some news about next steps sometime next week. Schedule your follow up for the following Wednesday (generally 2-3 days after you expect to hear, or 7-10 days after the interview.)

During these days, set google alerts for each person, and the company if you hadn’t done that during your target company research prior to the interview.

Look for signs of what they tend to like, share or engage on their LinkedIn profile. Start taking note of what is engaging each person, and watch the company pages and profiles. Compile a mini-library of articles that may be of interest to each person and the company. If you can find things that directly correlate to things you discussed in the interview, that’s even better.

When it comes time to follow up, unless you hear from them sooner, forward or send an article you suspect is of interest either by e-mail or social media. Determine which is most appropriate by what appears to be more heavily utilized throughout the day.

This does not have to be a lengthy communication.

It can be formal or informal. Take your cue from what you perceived the recipient to be. Of course, be professional.

It can be as simple as:

Dear Jill,

This article may be of interest to you, based on our conversation. I truly enjoyed meeting you and look forward to hearing about next steps.

I know this process can take some time. I continue to consider other opportunities, but I have been thinking a lot about all of the great things I know I would be able to do as your Vice President of Client Services and would love to know how the process is coming along. Please update me at your earliest convenience.

Best wishes in finding your ideal candidate.

Sincerely,

Karen Huller

If you legitimately have another opportunity progressing toward an offer, do take the opportunity to be forthright and let them know. You may even want to call and let them know. However, be prepared to field questions about where you are interviewing. You don’t have to answer them, and don’t if an opening is confidential. However, only give an update if it’s legitimate.

That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that.

 

Any chance you can take to add value, take it.

Steve Winwood – While You See A Chance

Best of SteveWinwood: https://goo.gl/8dc7ED Subscribe here: https://goo.gl/mJ3es8 Music video by Steve Winwood performing While You See A Chance. (C) 1986 Universal Island Records Ltd. A Universal Music Company.

The #1 Most Critical Thing You Can Do After an Interview

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set - LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

Thank You Notes Greeting Card Set – LilyWhitesParty of Flickr

 

Your last interview seemed to flow really well. You were at the top of your game, knew all about your potential employer, and you asked plenty of questions. Still, there is a little bit of doubt eating away at you. Perhaps you should have asked more questions, or you forgot to mention one of your better achievements. It does not matter how well you performed, or did not perform during your interview. Send your interviewer a follow-up within 24 hours of the meeting, regardless of your performance. A follow-up is your chance to stand out from other applicants, and to remind your interviewer why YOU are the best candidate for the position.

 

Why the follow-up counts

A follow-up after an interview can convey three major points:

  1. Your follow-up informs interviewers that you are thankful for the interview and are serious about the position. Thank them for not just the interview, but the opportunity to learn more about the company culture, the people, and the initiatives.
  1. You can reiterate why you feel you are the right candidate for the position. Use your follow-up to remind them how your experience and skills are a good fit for the company.
  1. A great follow-up demonstrates your interest in the company. Often the hours of reflection after an interview can bubble up really good ideas as to how you can add value to a company. Capitalize on those ideas and send an interviewer what you envision to be your best approach at helping them achieve the objectives you now better understand.
  1. All of those things you wish afterward you could have said, you can now say. Sometimes you do not know where you missed the mark, or afterward you might feel as if you forgot to mention an experience that was directly applicable to what a potential employer is trying to achieve. Use this opportunity to turn things around if the interview did not go as well as you think. Make an employer want to know even more!

 

A follow-up can become a later opportunity

Intriguing an employer may be enough to keep you in the running as a candidate. A follow-up is also your opportunity to remind an interviewer about an important topic you discussed during the interview. You may feel as if you made a great impression by describing a particular problem you solved, or an interviewer might have been impressed by your professional achievements. This allows you to stand out among the many applicants applying for the same position, especially those who may not follow-up. Format also counts. E-mail is more than sufficient for your follow-up. A hand-written note is an extra step, but may remain with an interviewer longer, if he or she keeps a copy of it on their desk. If you are going to send a handwritten note, send an e-mail to be prompt AND a handwritten note. If you know a position needs to be urgently filled, go with e-mail. An actual letter could be too much. Send a note and an addendum if you have extensive information to relay.

If you weren’t right for the position, you can keep your name in the mind of the interviewer with a follow-up. The point of this follow-up isn’t to ask for reconsideration, but to keep your options open, in case another opportunity with the company should arise. Do not just send a simple “thank you,” but also send articles, whitepapers, and other resources. Not all at once- drip the content on them over time to maintain the relationship and let the employer know you’ve been thinking about them, their needs, and their goals. This demonstrates that you really took to heart what an interviewer said, and that you want to add value to a company.

In case you were wondering if following up might seem desperate: taking a moment to thank an interviewer is NOT desperate! You may be tempted to address any concerns you had during the interview in your follow-up. Proceed with caution here. Make sure an interviewer is interested before you start addressing any concerns such as a period of unemployment that you could not easily explain. In fact, if you are working with an outside recruiter, address your concerns with them. With an inside recruiter or the hiring manager, wait for the second interview to bring up any issues with your prospective employer.

 

Customize your follow-up for multiple interviews

You may have been interviewed by a panel for a position, instead of a single interviewer. Take a few moments to follow-up with all of them. Each person involved in the panel of interviewers represents a different area of the company, such as a department manager, an HR manager, and team leaders. Send each of your interviewers a customized note, not a template, to avoid embarrassment should they compare their follow-up notes.

 

If there is silence after an interview

At the end of your interview ask “If I don’t hear from you by X-date (next week, perhaps), how would you like me to follow-up with you?” A phone call is the best method, but some interviewers may have their own preferences. If you have not heard back from your interviewer within a few days, take the time to follow-up by phone, unless they have indicated otherwise. Silence can mean it is possible that you may have lost out to another candidate, but were not informed. People spend too much time contemplating why they aren’t getting a response when they could be taking it upon themselves to check in.

If you did not get the job, ask them why, this is valuable information for your next interview. That said, do not be surprised if you are not given the opportunity to receive feedback, or if you do not receive an answer. In my experience as a recruiter, as much as I thought this was valuable information for any job seeker to have, not every person was truly open to hearing or accepting constructive criticism. If an interviewer or recruiter takes the time to offer you feedback, be open to accepting that constructive criticism and thank them genuinely. When the time arrives for your next interview, you will be better prepared.

 

Following up after an interview can be the difference between landing the job, or being the runner up. It may not guarantee that you will land, but it can leave a good impression that could lead to future opportunity. Just imagine if there are two equally qualified candidates in the running for a position. One candidate sends out a thoughtful follow-up, where he or she thanks the interviewer for their time, reiterates why they are perfect for the position, and provides ideas on how they can offer value to the company- all within 24 hours of the interview. The other candidate is completely silent. Which scenario leaves a better impression on an interviewer? You want to be the candidate that leaves a positive and lasting impression on a potential employer. The time you spend on a follow-up can greatly increase your chances of landing.

 

The Correct Response to a Job Lead

 

"Using Three Laptops at the Same Time" by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Using Three Laptops at the Same Time” by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Your network is your net worth.” This succinct phrase is the title of Porter Gale’s book. Gale, a marketing expert and public speaker, argues in her book that a network of personal and professional relationships is the most important asset in a portfolio. Think about it. Over 80% of jobs are unadvertised and obtained through networking. Your network connections can help you obtain job leads and even land a job. When someone in your network produces a job lead for you, your response matters. How you respond to a job lead can mean the difference between discouraging your lead sources, and successfully capitalizing on a lead. In order to capitalize on a lead, it is important to make a smart inquiry about the quality of the lead. Not every lead is a good match for your qualifications, so it is critical to learn more about the source of the lead and the potential job.

There is an important distinction between a job lead and an introduction offer. If someone in your network offers to introduce you to someone, do not decline the opportunity. There could be synergy between you and the other party, and a conversation might lead to a job opportunity. People are the ultimate connectors. You won’t know if there’s an opportunity until you have a meeting. Graciously accept the introduction offer, attend the meeting and follow up with your source. Feel free to ask your source questions about the party you’re meeting with to attend the meeting fully prepared. An introduction is a direct invitation to establishing a relationship with someone at a potential employer. A job lead is the knowledge of an open position, and when you can establish a relationship with hiring managers you increase your odds of being chosen as the candidate who gets the offer.

Gauge how much the person knows about the source and quality of the information they’ve given you. If it is a job lead, and not an introduction, you’ll have to dig deep and research the lead. Not every job lead is created equally. Your source may or may not be intimately familiar with the lead or the position. He or she may have been approached by a recruiter, declined the offer and decided to forward the position information to you. This doesn’t mean the employer is incompatible with your personal criteria. Your lead source may not have been not been actively looking for a job, or the position may not have fit their personal criteria. Knowing that you’re looking to make a transition, your source decided to be helpful and pass the information on to you.

If your source forwarded a lead and doesn’t know much about the company, avoid bombarding them with questions about the position. In other words, don’t make them answer the same questions you would ask of someone more familiar with the position. Go directly to the source. If the source leads you to a company website or job board, go to LinkedIn to learn more about the company and to discover if you have any possible inside connections. Next week I will go further into depth about the top ten websites you can use to research your employer.

Before you consider making a connection with someone at the company, thoroughly research the organization. Your research will help you get further in your ability to market yourself and demonstrate your value. The job position could be a perfect match for your qualifications and skills, but the company culture or its location may be a poor fit. Here are few questions to consider:

 

  • Where is the company located? You may or may not be open to the idea of relocating to another town or city.

 

  • What is the size of the company? If you’ve previously worked at a small employer, switching to a large employer could be a major culture shock, and vice versa.
  • What do employees think of their employer? If a good number of employees are miserable at the job, it may be a place you want to stay far away from.
  • Why do think you’ll be a good fit for the position? This question can also generate great content for a cover letter. Take notes as you discover your answers.

 

Look up a company’s profile on LinkedIn to discover answers to your questions.  Job review sites such as Vault and Glassdoor are more ways to obtain insight about a potential employer. Visit Salary.com and PayScale to learn more about an average salary for the open position at your employer. These are good resources for gathering salary range information based on your job title, skills and education level. Once you’ve researched a potential employer it’s time make a decision.

If you find that the company meets about 80% of your criteria, create a connection within the company. Go to LinkedIn to see who you may know. If possible, try to identify the most logical hiring managers. Once you find the hiring managers, send out customized invitations. Avoid sending out boilerplate invitations, and use the information you gathered about the hiring managers to introduce yourself. Before you send out those invitations, make your LinkedIn profile as appealing as possible. I’ve written extensively on the subject.  Avoid using default headlines and make sure your profile is more than just an online résumé. When you send an invitation to hiring managers, the point is not to directly ask for a job, but to be the answer to the open position. Think of it like this, the company needs to fill an open position to solve a problem within the company. You want to be the first solution that comes to mind.

If the position does not meet 80% of your criteria and you were referred, follow through with the interview and be upfront with a hiring manager. Let him or her know that the job opportunity presented after an introduction isn’t a fit for you. This honesty can lead to better opportunities down the road. When that potential employer has an open position that matches your qualifications and needs to be filled, either internally or referred, your name may be on the top of the candidate list. Focus on your preferred contribution and the types of positions that are in alignment with your skills and qualifications.  If the real issue with a job is a lifestyle conflict, let the hiring manager know. Express to them how you appreciate the time and effort they took to consider you for a position, but it isn’t a good fit with your lifestyle. For example, longer hours at a potential job may leave you unable to pick up your children from school or daycare in a timely manner. Or, the commute may be too long.

 

Always follow through with your source. They took the time to send information for a possible lead, thank them, and update them on what happened. They have a vested interest in the outcome and will want to know if it worked out. This is the best way to reinforce with your network that the efforts that they make on your behalf are not in vain. If, however, too many job leads they send seem to be wrong, they will get discouraged. Give them a little guidance, if necessary, but always with sincere gratitude.

Making a smart inquiry about the lead, and being responsive to your source can be the difference between discouraging them from ever sending you a lead again and receiving more job leads. Again, thank them for their time and research the lead. Your research will enable you to decide if pursuing an open position is worth your time. You can also use your research to put yourself ahead of the competition by crafting a customized cover letter. Learn how to use your research to get immediate responses from employers with our cover letter secret sauce. Above all, gratitude and research is the best response to a job lead.