You’re in an active job search and building your network. Good! There’s a subset of your network I believe worthy of singling out and carefully nurturing relationships with. I call these helper bees — contacts that can perhaps provide deeper assistance than some of those in your overall network. Why do you want helper bees?
Helper bees are the folks whom you believe will be the first to hear about an anticipated opening that fits your target job and audience.
They are likely in the right industry or same field. They may well have some sphere of influence with the decision-makers or know the decision-makers. They most likely are those people who regularly know the scoop. They come across relevant information that will help you get in front of the hiring authority early in the decision-making process—often and ideally before it’s advertised, luring hundreds of other candidates.
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Bolles at a conference a few years back; and I faithfully buy his What Color Is Your Parachute books as new editions come out. The bestselling career book of all time, one of my favorite quotes from Dick in the 2010 edition is, “Get other eyes and ears looking with you for what you’re looking for.” That says a mouth full! So, how do you gather these busy, willing helper bees to help YOU?
Respectfully sign them up.
I’m going to assume that you’ve been gathering information ever since you started your job search. If not, do. Information is power. As you collect this information, look for people who could serve as your helper bees. First, ask them for permission to enlist their help. Ideally, phone them. But you can also start with texting, a LinkedIn or Facebook message, or an email.
“Hey, Jim, my search is heating up. I’d really appreciate it if I could reach out to you from time to time for advice. I value your opinion and expertise in this field. You have my word that I won’t be a nuisance. Would that be okay with you?”
You can even set up a procedure to facilitate their listening for leads on your behalf.
“Hello Eileen! I know how busy you are and I value your time. But hey, you know just about everyone in _____. Would it be all right if I emailed you from time to time about whether you’ve heard anything that might impact my job search. Any companies hiring, business expansions or start-ups, anything like that. If you are comfortable with this, I’ll send about four emails to start, once a week. If you haven’t heard anything or don’t know anything new to help me, you don’t have to even respond. I’ll assume there’s nothing new. Would that be okay with you?”
I promise that with this kind of wording and approach, most folks will be fine with it. BUT — and this is really important — follow through! Don’t miss. Don’t vanish off the radar. If you want people to share good leads with you, you must show your enthusiasm and diligence. Contact four times, right on schedule. Take for granted that they will respect that you’re serious and considerate. Assume they’ll give you whatever information they can. Think glass half full.
Now, in the real world, job seekers reach out to folks who don’t reach back. For a gazillion reasons, often having nothing to do with the job seeker. I’ll share a tip with you for that potential situation in my next post.