Saturday, February 5, 2011
Your Career and You: Have a Reason to Connect
I just "inherited" another follower on Twitter...checked her feeds and didn't find anything obscene (I won't get into the gazillion typos I found in her tweets), so didn't block her.
The occurrence sparked the idea for this week's post, though...along with a chat that I've been following on LinkedIn about "introductions."
When I get notice of a new follower on Twitter, or a friend request on Facebook, or an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, I always ask a simple question: "Why me?"
I'd like to pamper myself with the notion that perhaps my thoughts are regarded as interesting or worthwhile by these folks. But I'm not convinced...in fact, kinda doubt it most of the time.
I'm nowhere near as erudite as my colleague Todd Defren at SHIFT, who writes a great blog on topics near and dear to my PR-prone heart. Nor do my topics have as great a significance for senior management as those addressed by Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross at Weber Shandwick.
So why do you want to follow/friend/connect with me? The answer to that little question seems to be where the real connection isn't being made.
At first I was grateful that someone wanted to share a common social media link with me...until I checked up on a few and found some "interesting" photos or comments...blocked and reported those puppies immediately!
Now I'm more cautious. If I don't recognize your name, I'm going to do some quick sleuthing. Who are you? And what common connection do we have in our backgrounds?
So, to speed up the process and increase your chances of my complying with your request, tell me why you're reaching out!
What mutual friend recommended that you connect with me?
What organization do we both belong to?
What job are you applying for that I have some connection with?
This applies in all aspects of your job search. Don't assume that I'm going to do your homework and find out who you are.
And this applies equally to your resume and cover letter. When I've been part of search committees over the years tasked with slogging through piles of resumes from everyone from highly-qualified communication professionals to laid-off cab drivers, the most annoying part of the process has been reading the cover letter and resume of someone who assumed that I was going to know what he or she wanted to do.
We always had three piles: (1) definitely talk to this person ASAP; (2) hmmm, let's think about this one, and (3) naah.
Want to guess where the ones that I was just talking about wound up? Without being read fully and discussed??
Especially in my world of public relations, the ability to communicate is paramount. And if you can't make your case right up front in your initial introduction, your chances have gotten way smaller.
So back to reasons. Here are a few that I used in my job search in Hawaii:
1. Before moving from Massachusetts to Hawaii..."I'm writing as a fellow member of the Public Relations Society of America..."
2. After relocating..."We met at a recent meeting of the PRSA/Hawaii Chapter..."
3. "I'm writing at the suggestion of XXXX at the Bank of Hawaii who, after chatting with me about job opportunities, thought that my background and experience might be just what you're looking for to fill your open XXXX position..."
Three short but clear reasons/connections, all of which resulted in informational or job-specific interviews. No guesswork involved.
I'm constantly reminding my Communication students at Curry College, especially my Public Relations concentration disciples, as well as my graduate Communications students at Regis College, of the importance of results-oriented communication with target audiences.
Your target audience in this case is someone who either can point you in the direction of a job opportunity or might consider you for a specific job. Give him or her a reason to connect!
"A man always has two reasons for what he does - a good one, and the real one."
John Pierpont Morgan, "From OWEN WISTER, Roosevelt: The Story of Friendship"