Tag Archive for 'Craig Smith'

LinkedIn: Why don’t people accept my requests?

By Craig Smith

Social networking is the current way of the world.  We have put ourselves in situations where we can be as distant and obscure as possible so as not to actually verbally communicate with someone. While this has increased the ability for employers to network with mass numbers and allowed young adults to avoid their fear of face-to-face networking, it has not removed from all of us that feeling of rejection. The question is, why are we getting rejected or not responded to?

If we focus on the social network of LinkedIn, we tend to make the exact same mistakes we would at a networking event. The toughest thing to do is approach somebody and start the conversation. The beauty of LinkedIn is that the employer is already open to conversation by having a profile, so approaching them is easy. Just like in face-to-face interactions, if I have met the employer or I have had a class, group, club or organization in which they spoke, I have an easy approach to introduce myself. I would not just approach them and say “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” Instead I would communicate to them how I knew them then quickly give my elevator pitch before asking a question about their company.

 

EX: “Hello Mr. Smith, I heard you speak during Social Justice Week on campus and really liked your passion for social work.”

ELEVATOR PITCH: “What do you think is the most important skill I should leave UW Oshkosh with?” or “What excites you the most about your current position?”

 

You do not have to worry too much about your elevator pitch because it is already done on your profile. So, what is the next step in networking? Remember, the best networkers listen 80 percent of the conversation and speak less than 20 percent, and with your elevator pitch already done for you, you can go right into your question.

 

EX. “Hello Mr. Smith, I heard you speak during Social Justice Week on campus and really liked your passion for social work and was hoping to connect with you here on LinkedIn. What do you think is the most important skill I should leave UW Oshkosh?”

 

The ability to network cannot be completely dismissed because we have found a way to be less personal in our approach. The keys to networking have not changed; they just need to be adapted.

  1. What is my reason for approach? Examples:
    1. I have researched their company and want to know more
    2. I have met them in the past and want to develop our relationship further
    3. I have heard them speak or present and want to develop our relationship further
  1. Do I have an Elevator Pitch and up-to-date online profile? Examples:
    1. Who I am, what I am interested in for a career
    2. My path, my skills/strengths
  1. How do I get them to talk about themselves? Examples:
    1. Something you researched or heard them talk about that you really want to know more about
    2. How they got started, what was their path
    3. What strengths/skills they think are of the greatest worth in their industry

The more personal we are, the more difficult we are to dismiss. The more vague and obscure we are, the less relatable we become. It is important to remember that some people take time to respond to their LinkedIn profile requests, emails and/or phone calls. Be patient. Be a networker without being a pest and always network with a purpose.

Click here to learn more about LinkedIn.

Networking with a Purpose

By Craig Smith

Everybody remembers their starting point; mine in the coaching industry was as a permanent substitute and coach in the Southwestern Wisconsin School District. At the time I was applying for college coaching jobs and posting the rejection letters on my refrigerator as motivation. Two years and 17 rejection letters later, I walked into the office my college football coach and asked for a job. He laid out some ground rules and told me that I would be working for below minimum wage and if I didn’t carry my weight I would be let go.

Those rejection letters were the last jobs I have applied for without being contacted by an employer, which had spoken to somebody in my network, asking me to apply or hearing about a position through my network. When I first started networking I did it without a purpose, no goals, no real understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, then complaining that it was impossible to get interviews when you don’t know anybody.

The whole process seemed impossible to me. Essentially, I was attempting to network with CEO’s and wondering how to become them instead of identifying those that held my position at a higher level or those in higher positions at the same level and building that network. Once my delusions of grandeur subsided and I started to build honest solid relationships, opportunities presented themselves, doors opened and I was prepared to walk through them. 12 years later I am not ready for the job that I thought I was entitled to when I started in this profession.

I continue to learn my craft to better myself and those I work with for the position I currently hold. Recently I had the opportunity to go to the University of Michigan for three days to meet with their coaching staff to see how they do things first hand. The goal was not to leave Michigan with a job offer, my goals were as follows:

  1. Meet and network with those that are in the same “field” as I am within my career
    1. Learn about their philosophies as it relates to the game and player development
    2. Discuss their philosophies on what it takes to be a coach today as well as trends they have seen or see coming
    3. Discuss their career path and their goals
    4. Meet and network with other college or high school coaches throughout our visit to give exposure to UW Oshkosh and myself

This opportunity is no different than any other conference people attend to better develop their skills.  While networking is a piece that presents itself, the goal of professional conferences is to get better at your career. You cannot be there to network 100% of the time. People will notice that and will question your loyalty and commitment to your current job. Who would turn around and hire a person that they did not trust?!

When meeting people that are in the same job at a higher level or at a bigger company, they go through the same ups and downs as you but theirs get amplified. They are a great reference to learn from through informational interviews, but you do not want to waste their time selling yourself. Remember, the best networkers talk less than 10% of the time!  Have questions prepared, do not let opportunities slip through your fingers because of lack of preparation. Know who you will be meeting, their product, and what similarities you share.

Asking questions about the person can be tricky. It helps in my situation they have bio’s up online for me to read through first. The easiest questions, in my opinion, are asking where they attended school, what they studied and where their first position was (for more tips see Conversation Stack link below).

http://podcast1.uwosh.edu/users/careerservices/weblog/d9c15/Conversation_Stacking.html

Always be prepared to be the one being networked with. For every position there is somebody trying to get there. Do not be a one way networker! Do not only find the time to network when it is a benefit to you, you must be willing to give back and help the development of others. If you have trouble with that, think about it from this perspective, you never know whose niece or nephew you are talking to or what field you may end up in or on.

For more on networking and to find networking opportunities on campus, click here.


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