Before contacting a company, gather as much information as you can regarding the Preliminary Data questions. This will help you to be more comfortable and appear better informed for when you make the call. This will also help if you're networking with friends and neighbors. Some of your data sources will include:
Calling will be difficult for introverts. Better to have your ducks in order before making the call. This should include some what-ifs. To think about...
You call the main number and the response is icy. How do you get past door #? What will you say if their first question is:
Why do you want to know this? or What is your business? If the receptionist is open, how will you present yourself?
So, the receptionist is busy, but amiable to passing you to HR. Before the transfer, can you get the name/ext. of that HR person?
You get passed forward. Be prepared for how to leave a voice message, as opposed to speaking with a live body. Should you leave a voice message? If yes, how much detail?
If you are going to present yourself as a LongNet rep, try the following, in your words:
Hi Sally, my name is John Doe. I am representing a networking group based in Longmont called LongNet.
The reason I am calling is that we are working as a group to help each other in gathering current information and also offering to you a central contact point, such as myself, back to our group. This ought to reduce the number of calls you receive, as well as help our members in focusing their efforts.
Would you be willing to talk with me now for a few minutes or perhaps schedule an appointment with me later this week?
Depending on the response, some possible questions:
Are the positions posted on your external website actively being recruited for? Do you have a different internal/external jobboard? Are there any particular positions which you're trying to fill now? If you use consulting firms, can you tell me which ones and who are your contacts? What do you look for in people as future employees? If cannot locate in prelim data, what is the employee base? Local/Global?
Other information that you would like to get to:
My name is xxx. [I heard your speech], [read an article about xyz company in name-of-publication]. As a [name your position and experience -- such as "as an experienced banker who has worked on starting up new branches", I really connected with some of the challenges your company is facing, particularly [restate the company need you could fill]. If you have the time and interest, I think you might be interested in some of the methods I've used over the years. I could come by sometime next week. Would you have 20 minutes or so to meet with me then?
I have another thing that may be useful. Here is an outline on "how to conduct a networking meeting"
Establish a rapport. Thank your contact for meeting with you. If appropriate, mention the name of the person who referred you again and emphasize that you are there to gather information and ask advice about your employment direction or campaign. Take advantage of this introductory time to begin building a relationship.
Give a brief description of your work history using your "90-second introduction" as the foundation. State your current thinking about your career and what you would like to accomplish from the meeting. This "fixes the agenda" and manages expectations.
Use a list of prepared, open-ended questions to focus and direct the conversation. Following your research, prepare questions to reflect the kind of information you want from the meeting. Use the following list of questions as a guide:
Try for a minimum of three names, addresses and phone numbers. If appropriate, ask for internal referrals within your contact's company. If your contact doesn't give you any names, be prepared to ask about the appropriateness of contacting other people you previously identified. IE "do you know Chris Amato over at Datatron? Do you think it would be beneficial for me to call him?"
Keep an eye on the time. After 20-30 minutes, remind your contact that you had agreed to that timeframe and you are prepared to leave. (it is fine to stay longer if you are invited, but don't stay on once you have completed your business)
Summarize key points and confirm any follow-up activities. Thank your contact for the help, advice and referrals. Ask if the contact would like to be apprised of your progress. This would be for the purpose of providing feedback on any of his/her recommendations as well as to cultivate the network. If the response is yes, use this as an opportunity to get back in touch. Things change rapidly in today's business world and you may surface more referrals. Write a thank you note to the contact within 48 hours.
"Hi (name of person you are calling), this is (your name). How have you been? The reason I'm calling is to update you on my current work situation. Do you have a few minutes to talk?"
"I recently left ____________Co. and I'm looking into new work opportunities. I'd like to set up a short meeting with you to do some brainstorming and get your feedback on my strategy. I was also hoping you might know some people to whom you could refer me who could provide me with additional information about the field."
"how does next week look for you?
"thanks for taking the time. I look forward to seeing you."
"good morning, (name of person you are calling). My name is (your name). A mutual friend of ours, _______, referred me to you. Have I reached you at a good time?
"I've recently left ____________co, and (referral name) suggested you would be a good resource for me to talk with regarding my current search for work. S/he was clear that you may not know of any open positions, but did feel that you would be an excellent person for me to contact."
"I am targeting individuals who have extensive knowledge about or connections in high tech organizations, which is why you were recommended to me. What I'd like to do is set up a 20 minute appointment to give you a brief synopsis of what I've been doing and what I'm thinking of doing in the future. I'd like your feedback on my strategy. When do you think it would be convenient for us to get together?"
It is quite common to have people on your contact list who are geographically distant or who, for watever reason, simply can't make a face-to-face meeting. As a result your networking has to be done over the phone.
In this case, you will make your initial phone call and use one of the three scenarios described earlier or the scenario that follows. Remember to respect the time commitments of your listener and determine a time to call back if he or she is busy.
When the time is appropriate, make sure you ask your contact if you can have 10 to 15 minutes on the phone, since you are too far away to set up an appointment. Then, conduct your networking meeting on the telephone using the following suggested outline.
"good morning, (name of person you are calling). My name is (your name.) Have I reached you at a good time?"
"I've recently left XYZ Co., and (referral name) suggested that you would be an excellent person for me to talk with regarding my current search for work. While I recognize you may not have an open position at your company, (referral name) felt that you could be a great resource of information about __________________."
"I'd prefer to meet with you personally, but since you are in ????? and I am in ?????, I thought we could set up a 10-to-15 minute phone meeting that would be convenient for you."
"my goal is to speak with someone with your range of experience who has knowledge of or connections in the high tech industry."
"Next week, Thursday at 2:00pm? That sounds great. I'll call you then. Thank you so much."
SECOND PHONE CALL
"(name of person you are calling, this is (your name). We agreed that I would phone you for a more lengthy discussion today. Is this still a convenient time?"
"Good. (referral name) said you would be a great person to speak with regarding __________. Here's my background in a nutshell. I've been in information systems for 15 years. What I am particularly skilled at is using IS technology to enable managers to run the business more effectively--to actually make decisions. As I mentioned before, my goal is to speak with experts in this field who might lead me to useful contacts."
"here are some of my target companies. What do you think of them?"
"are there others you would suggest?"
"do you know anyone who works at these organizations, or anyone who may have worked there in the past?"
"perhaps you can suggest a good search firm in the industry? Have you ever retained a search firm to fill positions for you? Are there any I should stay away from for any reason? Is there anyone there whom I should contact in particular?"
"i'd appreciate your feedback on the direction in which I am heading."
"Can you think of anyone else, perhaps friends, business associates, or any others who could be helpful in leading me to decision makers?"
At the end of the conversation
"may I send along my resume in case you hear of something? I'd appreciate any advice you have to offer."
"thanks so much for your time; you've been very helpful. If you hear of anything, or have any additional thoughts, would you please let me know. I will keep you posted on my progress and let you know when I accept a new position. And if there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to let me know."