Old School Networking Meets New School Networking

Old School NetworkingRecently, Eileen Habelow, Senior Vice President of organizational development for Ranstad (second largest HR and staffing firm in the world) presented what she calls “old school” tools for networking.  I don’t know, I’m probably being sensitive, but I’d like to think these networking tools are to our careers what French sauce making is to food.  It simply works no matter when the technique was developed.

The luscious thing about looking at “old school” and “new school” is that it expands our toolkit.  I like having more tools to help me achieve my career goals.  How about you?  I also like her explanation of why these old school networking tools help.  I’d like to lay out both sets of tools and share some of the logic around both.

Your Personal Information Sharing

Old school = Business card. Eileen Habelow:  “A business card helps a new acquaintance remember your name and work credentials; and it provides them with easily accessible contact information. Unless you have your email and phone number listed publically on your profile page, your new contact can only message you to get in touch. Take the hassle out of making new acquaintances. Be professional and make the connection by also sharing a business card whenever possible”.

New school = Linked In profile or Facebook. Using social media is becoming increasingly important for all career phases from job search through career growth.  These mediums allow you to track people or locate them like never before.  Ensuring previous relationships can be rekindled and capitalized on.  By setting up accounts and profiles you can now be “found” in talent search across the internet, making your information online very valuable.

Clearly, both schools have merit and cover different aspects of making new acquaintances, as well as maintaining existing ones.

Participating in Events

Old school = Newsletters, mailing lists and talking. Eileen Habelow: “Talk to friends, coworkers and family members to find out about networking opportunities that you otherwise may not know about.  Register for e-newsletters, mailing lists and listservs through local nonprofit, alumni organizations and museum websites.  Limiting your events to only those on your social media network limits the type of people you meet.”

New school = Meetup, Linked In or Facebook Events. There are a number of online, social media tools that allow like-minded people to organize, plan and execute group activities without leaving the comfort of their home.  If you are expanding your network, you will want to refer to both online and offline methods, because most groups choose to notify by only 1 medium.  You have to cover all your bases to ensure you know what is taking place.

Interacting with Others

Old school = Personal interactions. Eileen Habelow:  “Remember that some of the most memorable and valuable interactions occur face-to-face. Once you have made that e-connection, pursue a personal interaction whenever possible.  If you cannot meet in-person, arrange a time to speak via video chat or Skype – putting a face with a name is invaluable and technology can help!  If you are unsure about a certain method of contact, seek out the advice of a mentor or someone who knows the person you are contacting.”

New school = Texting, IMing, emailing. There are numerous ways to interact with others these days and texting seems to be the communication mode of choice.  The most important thing to remember about communication when it comes to your career is: “It’s not about you”.  Be aware of the communication tool of your recipient and what will work best for them.  If you don’t know, ask.  Also, be aware that the more ways you communicate, the more things you will have to check on a consistent basis.  It is always unprofessional to let email, voicemails, texts or whatever sit for more than 1 or 2 days without a response.

YOU are way more interesting and compelling than anything your electronics can produce; so develop a skill set for personalizing your important communications.

The new school and old school methods for networking are different and yet complementary to each other.  I think it makes no difference whether you are solidly parked in old school or new school, but you will be more successful overall if you can master and use them both.


Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals. Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy. Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results? Discover how by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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  1. Networking is preached as the answer to a job seeker’s prayer by many books and articles on job search, the large outplacement firms and most career coaches. In many cases this is to put great pressure on the job seeker and absolve the recommender of any responsibility for the job seekers success. There is no question that it has value, but having worked with over 500 career transition clients most indicate it is difficult, frustrating, can lead to false hope, limit the scope of the search and waste valuable time that should be used for more productive activities.

    In today’s job market where it is very difficult to even get an interview, the job seeker must use strategies and tactics that give the seeker a strong competitive advantage not only in getting the interview but securing the position.

    The key is to identify a company of interest and the specific person within that company who would be the decision maker in the hiring process. You must then approach the decision maker positioning yourself as a SOLUTION to a set of well defined KEY CHALLENGES and not as a person seeking employment or a person trying to sell a consulting service. The only reason that an opportunity will be opened is that the core competencies, skill sets and accomplishments you bring to the organization are consistent with the challenges that the organization and decision maker are facing. Any good decision maker will look at you as a potential asset and as any good decision maker, will be looking at the return he or she will get on that asset. Your initial mission through a document (spot opportunity letter) is to present a high enough potential return to encourage the decision maker to open the dialogue. Once opened, the mission is to continue building the potential return to so as to be invited in to discuss ways that you could make a major contribution to helping that firm meet those challenges. If at all possible you want to define those challenges as having a potential, measurable and significant negative impact on the organization’s bottom line or the decision maker’s career.. People are motivated more by fear of loss than opportunity or gain. This is part of the branding process which positions you as a unique and potential highly valuable asset and not just one more person who wants to waste the time of the decision maker.

    Challenges must be specific to a company. It could be a business downturn, margin erosion, loss of sales, customers or market share. It could also be the challenges of not successfully integrating an acquisition, launching new products, penetrating new markets or accounts. This information will come from press releases, financial reports, letters to shareholders, news articles, networking, trade publications, etc.

    You can also identify these opportunities at trade shows (key note speakers, presenters). You do not have to go you can often find the abstracts on the show website.

    The needed document is a letter that allows you to customize the first paragraph to target the specific reason you are contacting the decision maker, followed by a set of five or six challenges that you feel he or she may be facing in addressing the identified situation. These must obviously be challenges that you can provide proof positive that you could help the company address. The next few paragraphs come from your resume and include your positioning statement, four or five relevant and impactful achievements and your education. The last paragraph is a call to action in which you confirm a time certain that you will follow up. This time certain is critical as it is a very powerful tool to help you get by the gate keepers and to encourage the decision maker to accept your call.

    This letter can also be used for implementing group spot opportunity strategies and for approaching a company that has advertised a position of interest. You never indicate that you are responding to a position you simply use the fact that the company is seeking a new employee as an indicator of opportunity.

    People are often critical of this approach as they say cold calling or unsolicited letters do not work. Using a spot opportunity letter sent to the correct decision maker with a time certain for follow-up and persistence, will shorten the job search time, eliminate competition, and often ends up creating a position where one did not exist before your approach. It is estimated that 75% of positions are not advertised, listed with recruiters or may not have even existed prior to your approach. Why not compete in that segment of the market rather than fight the hordes scrabbling for the few visible jobs that exist.

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