Remember the post where I wrote for you last December about how to network with influential people?
Well, today I’m going to tell you how you can use that same advice to get awesome job offers, without cold calling, informational interviews, or desperate emails – even if you’re entering a new industry.
Meet Kim. Kim wanted a new job.
A few months ago, I offered to coach a select group of you to help you find more interesting and careers.
Kim took me up on my offer for a free chat. She recorded a video to tell me her story, which you can see below.
She’s a great girl, originally from the Philippines who is now living in Orange County. She was looking to restart her career.
She’d been working as a barista and a chocolatier, but what she really wanted was a chance to get involved in the tech industry.
One small problem: she didn’t have any professional experience in the industry and was afraid she’d never get hired.
I offered Kim a few ideas about how she could switch industries and improve her career. I love helping my readers — and she seemed ready to make a change. I remarked how difficult it would be.
That didn’t stop Kim, though.
How’d it work out?
I checked in with her on GChat/Skype a few weeks later to see how she was doing, and was pleased to discover she was following through on my advice all on her own!
She’d been actively attending meetups and networking events, and one of the people she’d met was able to score her an interview at a web development company.
She didn’t get that first job…
…but she didn’t let that stop her either.
She stepped up her networking game with the strategies I’m going to share with you in this post and earned herself a spot on a web development production team.
As you might imagine, Kim was pretty pleased, and I was very impressed.
(Sidenote: Well done, Kim!)
She sent me this email, which was maybe the sweetest email I’ve ever read.
I apologize I didn’t get back to you right away. I was very nervous about that job interview. I ended up not landing the job and didn’t have the heart to tell you. So I went back to the boards and went over some strategies again.
I took your advice to heart: to look for meetup groups in my area. I tried it out again, but this time when I looked up groups I looked at who the participants were. With obsessive near stalker-like detail, I looked up every single one of them and ended up with the companies they worked for. One of them was the founder of his own company that has been around for twenty years and has been hosting WordPress meetups in Orange County. I did my research and ran the company name on the search engines, and viola, I found an available position in the company and I applied immediately.
This may run counter to what you initially advised but I applied online. I heard back from the founder a few days later – the same guy whose career I obsessively researched. When I arrived at the interview, I already knew a lot about the company and he was surprised when I told him the exact date it was founded. It’s amazing what you can find in the anals of Google search.
Three days later, I got the job! It’s pretty exciting. From chocolate-maker/barista to a member of a web development production team.
From here, my goal is to just absorb everything like I sponge. It’s a period of learning for me.
When you first talked to me, my spirit was crushed. But I think the perspective you gave me was just the right enough push to help me get out there. A few helpful words go a long way and for that, I am very grateful to you.
So how can you do the same in your industry?
1) Get clear on who you want to meet
This was simple for Kim – she wanted to get a job in web development, so she started looking to network with web developers and the people who hire them.
That might not be quite as straightforward for you if you don’t have your heart set on a specific industry yet.
Now’s as good a time as any, though, to start figuring that out. Don’t just sign up for giant mixers for “professionals,” or “local businesses.”
Put some time into deciding on an industry you’d like to focus on and find out where they get together. There are networking events for literally everything you could want to do, from real estate and the law, to urban organic farming and full-time Etsy sellers. You just have to do a little digging to find the right place if you have something specific in mind.
And don’t worry about picking the right one – you’re not locked in to that meeting, or even that profession if you don’t like the people or opportunities you find at your first couple events, you can always go back to the drawing board and start targeting another industry.
2) Identify upcoming meetups in your area
There are a lot of different places to find out where people are getting together in your area, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s just focus on the big one: MeetUp.com.
With hundreds of thousands of monthly MeetUps, you’re bound to find something that interests you.
Kim also tried out CouchSurfing.org, and local Starbucks and community centers will often have directories or bulletin boards of similar groups going on in your area, but to keep the friction to a minimum, get started by giving MeetUp a chance.
Find a few groups that sounds interesting to you, check out when their next MeetUp is, and sign up.
Make sure at least one of them has a meeting in the next week, though – it’s critical that you get the ball rolling before you start to let your nerves get the better of you. A meetup in the next week will keep you busy, on track, and get you rapid feedback about how powerful this sort of targeted networking can be.
3) Learn all you can about the other attendees
At the end of the day, you’re going to these MeetUp groups to tell people about yourself and try to find new work opportunities.
But, oddly enough, the best way to do that is learn more about the people who are going to be there.
Before you walk in to the MeetUp, take the time to check out the other attendees’ profiles and learn a bit more about what they do. If they’re interesting, move on to Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn to see what else you can find out about their work.
This gives you a huge informational advantage, and even though Kim herself called the behavior “stalker-like,” in practice people were flattered and impressed by the time she’d spent and the interest she’d shown in them.
4) Use the tactics from my networking post to get yourself noticed
If you haven’t read that already, well then….shame on you! Go do that I’ll wait 😉
But for a quick recap, I told you to: “Be interesting, add value, check for connections, approach them beforehand, or ask to interview them.”
Look for things you have in common so that you have something to talk about and can hold their attention.
Brainstorm services you could offer them for free to make an impression, or introduce them to someone you think it would be helpful for them to know.
Check on Facebook and LinkedIn to see if you have any common connections who could introduce you to two and set up a meeting or a coffee date.
If you find someone you’re especially interested in, shoot them an email beforehand to introduce yourself and let them know you’re looking forward to meeting them.
In Kim’s case, she actually found an interesting job opening at one of the attendees’ companies, applied, and got an interview before the MeetUp even happened.
If all else fails, or you think someone’s too high-profile to just walk up and make an impression, set up a blog or podcast about the industry and ask to interview them for it. Everyone likes to be interviewed – it feeds the ego, but also demonstrates your commitment to entering that line of work. I know even know someone who used his environmentalism blog to land a marketing job at a nonprofit straight out of college, with no practical experience whatsoever.
Whatever you do, show up prepared to give them a reason to remember you.
5) How to turn an interview in to a job offer
This is when the research you did on the other attendees earlier is going to pay off.
The secret is to blow them away with your informational advantage. They know little to nothing about you, but if you’ve done your homework, you’ll already know a lot about them.
Take it from Kim: “When I arrived at the interview, I already knew a lot about the company and he was surprised when I told him the exact date it was founded.”
Three days later, she got the job.
Remember: people do business with people, and anyone you want to hire you is going to have to see you every day. They want to find someone good, but also someone that they can trust and that they can like.
This kind of preparation is going to show potential bosses that you’re ambitious, proactive, and most importantly that you care about their company. Those are irresistible qualities in many industries, but especially for the founders and small business owners you’ll typically find at a MeetUp.
Come prepared with knowledge about them and their companies, and ideas for how you can help, and it’ll be hard to justify pulling another resume out of the pile, no matter how little experience you might have.
6) Follow-up to cement your first impression
A lot of times people come back from MeetUps overwhelmed by the number of people that they met, and even if you made a good impression – hey, everybody’s busy.
That’s why you should make sure to touch base with the people you met who seemed like exciting prospects a couple of days later.
Remind them who you are, what you two discussed, and try to add a little extra value. That could be as simple as a blog post, another idea you had for them to try out, or the contact info of a person you think could help them out.
If you haven’t already expressed your interest in working for them or set up an interview, now’s the time. If you have, this is when you’d want to set or confirm the date.
Either way, you’re trying to reinforce the impression that you’re helpful, valuable, and fun to be around to keep the conversation moving.
7) The most important part of this strategy
I know I’ve dropped a lot of ideas on you in this post, but the most important thing is that you just get started.
The big secret to Kim’s success is that she didn’t let the details get in the way – she got out there, she started meeting people, and when the first job fell through, she refined her strategy and kept on going.
Networking has a kind of inertia, and the only way to rush that process along is to get started right now!
By tomorrow, you’ll have already lost a day.
If you’re looking for a gig, go to MeetUp.com right now and check out what’s going on in your area.
Sign up for a couple of groups. RSVP to a meeting. Check out who else is attending and start looking into what they do, or even send them a message.
But whatever you do, start now.
You’ll be blown away by how much easier it is to get someone’s attention in person than online.
Let me know in the comments what kind of job you’re looking for and the group you’re going to go check out!