One of the memorable scenes from the mid-90s hit Jerry Maguire was Tom Cruise’s emphatic appeal to his prospective client “Help Me …. Help YOU!”
Put yourself in Tom Cruise’s / Jerry Maguire’s shoes for a moment, but imagine yourself to be the superstar athlete with lots of undiscovered potential – and Jerry is your networking contact that might make great things happen for you. How do you help him help you?
First, the obvious: Network with clarity and focus
Have you ever received a message from an acquaintance (often after many months or years of radio silence) that went something like: “Hey, I am starting to look around for new opportunities,so if you hear of something, please let keep me in mind.”
Apart from the fact that healthy networking is based on reciprocity – and not just asking for things – the referral request above is much too generic to be “actionable.” Even adding an industry or job description doesn’t improve things much: “Hey, I am starting to look around for new opportunities in marketing,so if you hear of a brand management or product management position, please let keep me in mind.”
How, then, can you supply enough clarity and focus to “help them help you?” Well, first do your homework!
- Create a list of potential employers and listed opportunities that fit your skill profile and value propositions
- Using your Rolodex, address book, and social media profiles, assemble a list of friends, business associates and acquaintances who either work or used to work at the companies of interest
- Don’t forget to scan the first-degree contacts of your candidate list on LinkedIn for additional “targeting accuracy”
- Now craft customized networking requests for each remaining “outreach candidate” that goes something like this: “Hi Mark, I am beginning to rev up my job search and was wondering if I could ask you to forward my resume (attached) for the position of “Product Manager – Requisition Number 1104010104″ to Samantha Fields at Widgetronics. Her current email address is firstname.lastname@example.org”
Supercharge it: Add the powerful “TVP” = Third-party Value Proposition
Third-party Value Proposition statements are inspired by great advice I received from a high-ranking executive at a leading consulting strategy firm. They help things along for both posted and unlisted opportunities by equipping your network contact with ready-made “sales lingo” to position and connect you. A well-crafted TVP also has the advantage of making the referrer look good as he or she is passing along a candidate that is “a true find,” vetted by a trusted contact, and preferable to picking an unknown person from a huge stack of resumes.
What does a typical TVP look like? And how do you “pitch it” to your network contact? Here’s an example:
“Hi Mark, thank you so much for forwarding my resume to Samantha Fields. I really appreciate the help! If you have a chance to chat with Samantha about this application, I thought it might be helpful to have a two-sentence ‘value proposition’ that clearly states how I can help her in the role of Product Manager. Maybe something like
“You should talk to Jim for the role of Product Manager because he has an amazing knack for really making products thrive. Customers love the way he really ‘gets them’ and can turn their requirements and ‘wish lists’ into widget reality.”
Please let me know if you feel that this something that would resonate with Samantha or other product management contacts in your network, such as Tom Patrick, Selena Gomez, or Frank Rich.
Best regards and thank you again,
“Helping Products Thrive”
Armed with a TVP, your optimized LinkedIn page, and resume, your networking contact now has a complete sales kit to “Help Them Help You!”
To schedule your free personal branding consultation, check the Personal Branding Services page.