Not all of us are born "schmoozers," but it's a skill that we should all learn as best we can. From a career skills perspective, schmoozing refers to relationship building, a skill that is in high demand. If you are serious about landing your dream job, faster, don't ignore the power of the schmooze, which from a career building perspective is more commonly known as networking! This article delves into a specific aspect of networking: the informational meeting.
The goal of the informational meeting is to meet with a company insider, or with someone who does the job you would like to have. The intent is to gather information, not ask for a job.
Be aware of protocol and don't overstep social boundaries. Accosting a company's VP as he grocery shops is not recommended. Business protocol means sticking to business hours, and behaving in a business-like manner. Politely asking for an informational meeting is okay; hounding is not!
Identify your ideal employer for optimal results. A romance novelist wouldn't land a new contract by targeting a publisher of mysteries. And an innovative IT software developer is unlikely to be happy in a stodgy innovation-shy corporate environment. Schmoozing with an ideal employer will be easier as you'll both be on the same wavelength.
Identify a target again, for optimal results. Contacting the wrong person is poor strategy; the target's disinterest will stop the reluctant schmoozer in her tracks! And the lack of influence of a poorly chosen target would be a waste of effort. Rather than a Human Resource recruiter, arrange a meeting with the person two steps above the position you want. If you are a front line staff, aim to chat with your future supervisor's manager. If your goal is a Director level position, then aim for a meeting with the CAO.
Want to talk money? Salary is not a topic for the schmooze. It isn't even a usual interview topic. It becomes a topic whenever the potential employer brings it up.
Name dropping is quite acceptable in schmoozing. Hiring a known entity is preferable to hiring an unknown, and sharing a respected name-in-common establishes a valuable connection.
But don't expect a job. Even if someone reputable referred you, don't think a job is a done deal. The astute networker shares the value of his skills by relating these to revenues earned, costs saved, and reputation or brand built on behalf of past employers.
And don't overstay your welcome. Once you've been granted an informational meeting, you should stick to the agreed-upon time, perhaps 15-20 minutes. Ask your questions, share your value, and ask if you may leave your resume. Keep in mind that relationship building skills include reading body language and intent and adjusting your expectations accordingly. So do allow your contact to steer the meeting's length.
You must ask good questions. Which questions you may ask? Too large a topic to tackle in a short article, but the key question is "Can you recommend someone else that I should speak with?" the answer to which will, of course, lead to more schmoozing, which may indeed lead to a new job!
About the author
Stephanie Clark, a respected leader on the resume scene, is owner of New Leaf Resumes. Recipient of four awards for outstanding resumes in the Career Professionals of Canada 2008 and 2010 Awards of Excellence. Cover letters in print in Joyce Lain Kennedy's latest book on cover letters (2009).
New Leaf's clients, serious about managing their careers, appreciate working with a leading professional. Stephanie invites you to visit her website at http://www.newleafresumes.com for more information.
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