Evaluating Your Career Options. Part 2
An equally important step is to come up with an effective opener to these conversations. You will be calling people who are busy and you need to quickly give an overview of your background and your objective in calling them. Here’s an example:
“Hi, this is Matthew Thomas and I got your name from Sally Armenta who thought you might be willing to share your insights about the field of copywriting with me. I have been in public relations for seven years, working for a variety of financial institutions. I am interested in applying my writing skills in a new direction. Would you be willing to set up some time to meet? I’d love to ask you some questions.”
Here are some cardinal rules of networking to keep in mind, whether you are asking for information about a field or looking for job leads:
Be very appreciative of the person’s time and any information he or she shares with you. (This applies even if someone really hasn’t been all that helpful!) Thank them verbally, then follow up with a well-written letter.
Always ask if this is a good time for contacts to talk, and if not, offer to call or come back when it’s more convenient.
Tell them you would be happy to return the favor, if there’s ever anything you can help them with. Then look for opportunities to reciprocate.
Plan ahead so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish in the time you have. You requested the conversation, so you’ll be expected to take the lead.
Don’t be afraid to ask them if they know anyone else they would recommend you speak with. This is the way networking works; your web of contacts needs to keep growing until you are in touch with the people who will help you find your next opportunity.
Keep in touch with your contacts. Once they have taken the time to give you advice, they’ll want to know what you end up doing. Your goal should be to foster an ongoing relationship. Touching base also keeps you top of mind in case they hear of any good opportunities.
As you are finding out information about fields in consideration, you should be weighing it against what you know about yourself and your values. I usually recommend that my clients make a list of the most important criteria for their next job. It might look something like this:
1. Short commute
2. Don’t have to work weekends
3. Fun, creative atmosphere
4. Lots of variety; moderate amount of challenge
5. The ability to work independently
6. Opportunity for growth, both in responsibility and pay
7. Starting salary needs to be at least $50K
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