Over the years we’ve built up an extensive contact list, thanks to our former clients who kindly donate their time to help our officer community. Our consultants Lisa Jones and Fiona Jackson have put together a list of their Top 12 Pointers to ensure this invaluable document is used effectively and wisely.
1) Remember, at the heart of it, networking is just about meeting people and having conversations. Often, our clients are nervous or uncomfortable about the process and see it as a ‘false’ and ‘shallow’ sales pitch – there may be a small element of that involved but in the initial stages, view networking as a mere conversation.
2)Lose the idea that networking is somehow odd or unsavoury. Most civilians find roles through networking and as a lot of jobs aren’t advertised now, so people need to meet through word of mouth.
3) When you contact someone on the list, ask them for something they can easily deliver. Keep it as simple as asking them if they can spare half an hour to share their experiences of the industry you’re interested in.
4) Do not send people your CV in initial correspondence. This sends the message that you’re looking for a job and is too much information at this stage.
5) Be succinct and specific in your correspondence, whether via email or phone. Do not go into great detail about your background as this could overwhelm the recipient. People just don’t have the time either to be writing long emails.
6) Ensure you’re not too vague. Telling them that you want to work for the charity sector reveals very little about who you are and indicates that you’ve done no research.
7) It sounds obvious but make sure you research the person you’re meeting and the organisation they’re working for. For example, if you’re meeting someone from the oil and gas industry, research the market and find out why prices have been going up and down. If you don’t, individuals will soon realise this and be puzzled as to why you wanted to meet them. It’s also unlikely they’ll refer you on to any helpful contacts.
8) Naturally, you want to make a good impression. Again, this sounds obvious but make sure you’re on time. Treat it as you would an ordinary interview and dress accordingly. Take a business card, even if it just has your name and email address on it.
9) Take a writing pad and make notes. This demonstrates your genuine interest in what they have to say and shows that you’re serious about finding out what the industry entails.
10) Seek to gain two new contacts from every networking meeting. Obviously, this can’t be overt but it helps focus the mind on ensuring you push beyond the immediate discussion and see where else (and importantly to who else) it could take you.
11) If people are continually failing to refer you on then you’ll need to have a straight and honest conversation with yourself. It may be because you’re not looki
ng smart, you’ve delivered the wrong attitude or seem indifferent.
12) Ensure you thank them, with an email at the very least. A letter will ensure that you’re reinforced in the person’s mind and they’ll remember you for a very positive reason.
Rules of the Contact List
When making contact with those appearing on the contact list, please remember that they have volunteered their support to network with and for Service Leavers and ex-Serving Officers. With this in mind please adhere to the guidance below:
- Please approach them via email asking for a meeting and the opportunity to gain from their guidance – phone numbers are provided as an emergency backup (these are busy people at work and an email does not interrupt their day).
- Attach a short profile or insert a brief bit about your background in the email (perhaps add your Linkedin profile) – do not attach CVs as Contacts sometimes take a dim view of this as they are not inviting you for a job interview but a more casual networking opportunity.
- Be on time and if you have to cancel a meeting then do so as early as possible.
- Follow up the meeting with an email of thanks – and perhaps a Linkedin invitation.
- Do not simply email Contacts asking for names – this is seen in a bad light and it is unlikely that anyone will share you with their network without first meeting you.
It is stressed that the Contact List is for the building of a networking campaign to find civilian employment. It is not to be used for developing commercial interests whether for sales, marketing or recruitment. A few individuals have tried to use it in this manner and have achieved nothing but the antagonism of those approached.
You may NOT distribute the list to others.