By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
I recently met with a colleague who described something that has become unfortunately all too familiar. He mentioned that he gave a presentation to a group of Latino college students about entering the high-tech field and that he offered them all to LinkedIN® with him so he can support their career ambitions.
Even after describing the importance of building their network as part of his presentation, he was dismayed that of 150 students only 4 actually asked to LinkedIN® afterward. Sadly, I have much of the same experience.
Regardless of how enthusiastic participants may be while they are engaged in a workshop or during a presentation or speech, only a few take those brief encounters to the next level and truly seize the opportunity.
Is this you?
Are you leaving behind important opportunities? Do you recognize those opportunities that can move your career forward?
If it’s not yet clear, there is a specific reason for the adage: It’s not what you know but who you know that will get you closer to your career ambitions.
Why? Because roughly half of all jobs available are not posted on corporate job boards or similar. Those jobs become available to you only if you connect with the right person at the right time. And if you are interested in moving up inside your current workplace, that one person who can put you in front of the right people may have just bumped into you in the elevator — so let’s get connected!
The art of positioning yourself for a great connection with someone begins with your ability to act FAST: Follow-up, Ask, Share, and Thank.
If you meet someone who gives you a business card or provides you their email or even if you meet and they simply provide a name, follow-up with them within two days. Look that person up on LinkedIN and add them to your network. Strategic professionals will accept invitations because they know how important networking can be for a career. I guarantee you that 9 times out of 10 they will connect.
Once you have connected with a person, engage them. Ask a question about their work, their project or their career. When you ask your question, be sure to also Share about yourself and your interests, too.
“I’m interested in working in healthcare, what do you think is the number one skill for nurses to have today?” “I really like fashion and wonder if you think there are opportunities in retail for my skills.” These questions let a new contact learn more about you and what you may be interested in so that they can refer you to others who can support your career interests, too. You can ask your questions within LinkedIn, by email or you can do this in an “informational interview” in person.
After you have connected with your contact — whether an email response to your question or an informational interview is complete — be sure to Thank them for their time. Thank you cards are rarely used now but you will be far more memorable if you take the time to send a card. And yes, the more you can set yourself apart from others for doing the extraordinary, the better.
When I look back at workshop participants that are memorable and stand out—it’s the ones who follow up and ask about the issues I’ve presented and those who truly engage. They write or call soon after and come across as eager and interested in their success which all comes down to making a strong impression. And yes, it becomes much easier to recommend them to others who can support their journey.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™ on Facebook or on Twitter @SavvyLatinaInfo.