Your Referral Base--Primary Contacts n18.jpg

The world is filled with professionals who remember how hard it was to get a foot in the door at their companies or to establish a career in their industries. The world is filled with professionals who remember how hard it was to get a foot in the door . Such people are often especially amenable to the idea of supporting others in their reemployment efforts. And nearly every professional feels flattered and inclined to help, if at all possible, when job seekers turn to him or her for advice, not a job.

Of course, busy professionals don't have the time to meet with everybody who requests an informational interview. I've found that most working people grant informational interviews first - and often exclusively - to job seekers who are referred to them by mutual acquaintances. Unsolicited written pitches or cold calls from job hunters, on the other hand, can sometimes land at the bottom of the work pile.

Getting Started

To get informational interviews, you need to have informational interviews. Sound like a "Catch 22" or circular logic? It's not. You just need three contacts to launch your networking campaign. And everyone has at least three connections that can get the ball rolling.

You can choose any successful and highly regarded people in your community to begin your informational interviews. However, if you have the luxury of choosing from a wide range of possible "primary contacts," I'd recommend that you select three people who know you well and whom you can trust. You're likely to feel awkward and fumble your way through your first round of informational interviews, and it's easiest - and safest - to make your mistakes early on in the process with people who will be empathetic and provide helpful, positive feedback. Once you've polished your informational interviewing skills, there's no limit to how extensive your network can become.

At the Top n20.jpg

Ultimately, you'll want to network your way toward the most successful professionals in your industry who are willing to meet with you. These are the people who can best help you penetrate the hidden job market and get the word out that you're available for work. No one, no matter how high-ranking, is off limits to you as long as you can win a referral to him or her. Top-level managers, vice presidents, and even CEOs can all be part of your networking efforts.

┬ęCopyright 2008 Professionals In Transition Support Group, Inc.

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