Your Goals In Any Conversation
Get the word on the grapevine: Share your Value Proposition with everyone.
Collect Information: About companies
Introductions to insiders and decision makers.
Personal Contacts: Ask These Questions
Talk about your Target List
Would you have some time to go over my target list with me?
Do you know anything about any companies in my target list? If so, what?
In your opinion, based on my professional objectives, which organizations are best for me?
Can you suggest any others which are not on this list?
Ask about the source of your contact’s information
How do you know that? You should always try to discover the source of a contact’s information – is it from another person that you could request an introduction to, is it a website you should visit or a book/magazine article you should read?
Ask for introductions to other people who may help you
Do you know of other people who may have additional information about any of these companies? If so, would you be comfortable in introducing me to them?
Do you know of any current or former employees of these organizations on my target list? If so, would you be comfortable in introducing me to them?
In general: do not ask for introduction immediately. First collect all the names that the contact can think of.
Ask about the company where your contact works
If your personal contact is familiar with any organization on your target list, you can dive a little deeper about that company/organization:
What is their mission/goals and what’s their revenue model (how they make money)?
What kind of success they have had in the last couple of years?
Have they had any problems?
What can you tell me about this…department/team/group?
Do you know of anyone who might be able to give me more information about this organization?
Professional Contacts: Ask These Questions
Sharing your Target List:
Do NOT show your target list to insiders in a company, decision makers or influencers. You can show your target list to those of your contacts who are information providers.
Where to start:
Always start by talking with those of your contacts who are your “information providers” in any company. And you must talk to some contacts who are influencers (insiders, peers at your targets) before you approach decision makers ( hiring managers, senior level managers etc).
Ask your contacts about the organization.
What are the new products and projects planned for the next 1 year?
Who are its top competitors and it’s key customers?
Ask your contacts about the department you will be working.
Is the department growing? What are the main goals of the department?
How does the department work with other departments in the company?
Find from your contacts information about new contacts you can talk to.
What is the name of the person you know who works with IBM? Do you have their phone number and/or email address? Who would have the power at IBM Corporation to hire me for this position [state your professional objective here]?
Would you be willing to call him in advance to introduce me?
Ask your contacts about the hiring manager.
Did you report directly to the him [ie the hiring manager]? What is his vision, goals, main initiatives, key projects and the things he loves? What does he see as strengths and weaknesses in other people?
What does he look for in the people he interviews? How would he see you – according to your contact?
Ask a little about company politics and people will open up and give you valuable information – What kind of manager is he? Does he protect his people? Is he a political animal? What is his pet peeve? What is the hiring manager’s position in the company’s organisational structure? How much influence does he have in making decisions? Is he a strategic thinker or simply a micro-managing routine work man? What would he list as his top achievements? Is he agggresive or easy going? Is he ambitious – about what?
What is the name and phone number of the hiring manager’s assistant? You can even find out this information by calling the switchboard.
Ask about the nature of the job:
Find out from professional contacts: What are the expectations and skill sets needed for that job description, what are they working on in that department right now, what are some of the main priorities of the hiring manager in that department?
Ask for a reference – don’t be shy!
If I email or speak with him, may I say that I have spoken to you?
Could you drop him a mail with a few good words about me?
Use your Value Proposition statement and your resume!
Share your Value Proposition with your contacts.
Show them your resume – but let them ask for it first!
Express your enthusiasm for working there. “It would be really great to have an opportunity to work in your company!”
Hiring Managers: High Yield Conversations
Watch for an opportunity to meet the hiring manager or other insiders if possible even if for a few minutes.
Talking to hiring managers : Treat it like an interview even if it’s a short 10 minute conversation in an elevator. Let them know that you are interested, excited and qualified. Give them a summarized version of your Elevator Pitch.
Important: Do NOT forget to send a short Thank You note to your contact on the same day.