Friday, October 30, 2015

How to Network Effectively When You Are Unemployed

Many of these blog posts are inspired by questions that people ask me in lectures and workshops, some by questions sent to me by email and some from questions people ask on the popular Q&A site Quora. Most of the time if one person asks a question thousands more have the same problem so I put an answer here, too, where everyone can read it.

Just this week an anonymous user on Quora asked "Long term job seekers are advised to build a network but who would want to network with them?".  This is a very interesting question because it highlights two misunderstandings about networking and there is actually a fairly straightforward way to solve this problem.

First of all, you are not supposed to wait until you are long-term unemployed to start building a network. It can take years to build a solid network -- though much less to get started -- so you should be doing it long before you are unemployed. Network while you have a job, and even network while you are still in school. Done well, this network will step in the moment you lose your job and you will not be out of work for long.

But let's assume that for some reason you missed the lecture about networking in your university. You missed the workshop about networking organized by your company. Now you are out of work and you are starting from zero. How do you build a network in these circumstances? As the anonymous questioner asks, who wants to connect to someone who is unemployed? 

There are, actually, plenty of people who would connect with you even if you don't have a job. Networking is a long-term game and you should not be connecting with someone just for what they do now but for what they could do in the future. Plus your old school friends, former colleagues and neighbors are all likely to connect with you.

And all the others will probably be happy to connect with you, too,  if you give them a reason. You might be unemployed but you don't need to be inactive. While you are out of work use some of your time to volunteer for professional organizations, local startup communities, the local chamber of commerce, the local TEDx team, local charities and anything else where you might be able to contribute with your skills.

When you volunteer for any non-profit you are surrounded by other people who see you not as long-term unemployed but as a valued member of their team. They will be happy to connect with you. Some are perhaps employed, some are consultants and maybe some are looking for work, but all of them have something in common.

Volunteering also looks good on your CV and gives you a chance to demonstrate what you can do. If I am looking to hire an event organizer and I see someone who is organizing successful events for a non profit I am more likely to hire them than many others.

And what if you live in a small town with no voluntary activities? Actually pretty much any town has something, but even if there is nothing then you have another option: be the person who creates Smallville Startup Weekend, TEDxSmallVille or whatever. As the founder you get more recognition for your leadership skills and you get to network with everybody. And what if you have no leadership skills? Start leading and the skills will come pretty quickly. 

Being out of work is no excuse for not networking. Get out there, do things and connect with the other people who do things. In some ways being out of work actually makes it easier, because you have more time for these activities than many people with a full time job and a family.



More about professional networking

There's much more about professional networking in my book Payforward Networking, available in paperback and Kindle editions.







Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

Andrew Hennigan provides lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about networking, influencing, speaking and other communication topics. To book a session email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81. You can also find out more at http://andrewhennigan.com



Monday, October 19, 2015

How a Media Relations Hack can Improve Your Emails

When you are preparing replies to questions from journalists your media training person will teach you to reply in complete statements. So if the question is "Do you think that social media is just a fad?" an answer like "No" might be technically accurate but is unusable for the journalist. You will get much better results if you reply "I do not think that social media is a fad". This is easier to quote in video and much easier to use in a written piece.

This same technique can also be used in email threads to make communication more effective. When someone sends a message like "Will you be able to help with the pitch coaching at the next startup event?" you could just reply "Yes". This has two disadvantages. First, the sender has to re-read their message to see what you replied to. Second, restating it as a complete statement means that the other person can see if you understood correctly. For this to work it is best to use your own words, not a cut and paste from the original message.

There's an additional benefit. Many people today read their emails on a phone that displays the first two lines on the first screen. Done correctly, the central part of your response should be visible there.

Why does this make email more effective?  It saves time for the reader and it reduces misunderstandings. Often what wastes time is needing to have additional cycles of email to settle a simple question.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

Andrew Hennigan provides lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about effective email plus networking, influencing, speaking and other communication topics. To book a session email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81. You can also find out more at http://andrewhennigan.com


Payforward Networking

Learn how to network effectively online and in real life in my new book Payforward Networking. Find it here: Paperback editionKindle edition.