The Bigger the Better

EDITOR’S NOTE: This month one of my contacts has provided a guest post. We look forward to your comments and hope you visit her blog and website for more help on networking.

By Dumont Gerken Owen, Certified Career Management Coach

It’s not about the size of your network — it’s about the relationships you build. I’ve been networking for a long time, and over the years, I’ve made many contacts who fell off the map and many who I still carefully nurture as valued business and client acquaintances.

Time is money… and in your case, it’s the time and effort you put into your job search. So, do you want to spend this precious commodity building a huge network of contacts, or converting your most useful contacts into supporters with a vested interest in your success?

A short story:  I recently had a call from a client with whom I had been working for about six months. She had succeeded in a number of careers during her life and was evaluating which direction she wanted to go now. We narrowed her focus to one industry in which she had previous experience. She was then able to turn to the network that she had kept active through the years since she’d left the field. It took about a month for her to land a great job in financial sales management. Better yet, it suited her life style.

Now in her case, she already had a well-developed past network of individuals in a position to help her. However, even if you don’t have a well-developed professional network now, the same techniques that worked for her can work for you. Just remember it is neither easy nor fast.

On average, it’s going to take about three to four months before your network starts to pay off.

Try this experiment…

Put yourself in your contact’s shoes. Whom would you most likely help further their job search?

  • The person you met at a professional meeting, followed up with a thank-you letter,  but you never heard from again?
OR
  • The person who went beyond the thank-you letter: the one who sends an update on each referral you’ve offered and checks in from time to time, relating his or her job search progress or passes on an article of interest?
I’d help “B.”  “B” is not just a contact , “B” is an acquaintance I have a vested interest in!
It takes time, effort, and determination to develop a “true” network: one composed of people committed to helping you further your job search.
What are some of the tactics for converting contacts to supporters?
  1. Consider your first contact with the individual as an introduction.  This is not the time to ask for referrals or even contacts.  It’s an e-mail or call to set up a time to talk.  It’s developing a new friendship; a true friendship not built overnight.  The individual has to get to know you.  It’s the same process developing professional contacts.  They have to trust you before they’ll refer you.  They have their own credibility to consider.
  2. Once you’ve made contact, develop opportunities that deepen the relationship.  The first is your thank-you note.  Keep it professional, but personalize it by mentioning something specific you enjoyed about your talk.  Make it stand out by sending it by e-mail within 24 hours and a second one “snail mail.”  Employers can delete an e-mail in a second.  They are more likely to open “snail mail,” and it’s a second chance to touch base.
  3. The “pay forward” approach.  Research as much as you can about your new contact.  Send them an occasional article about a new breakthrough in the field or congratulate them on a personal accomplishment or company success.  Once you’ve primed the pump, you’re ready to ask for referrals to new contacts.
  4. Once your contact provides referrals, let them know how it worked out. If appropriate, copy the e-mail to the new contact. Remember you’re building your relationships with both. Let them know you appreciate their help.
  5. Keep them updated on your progress during your job search.

Following these simple tips will help you convert your contacts to acquaintances invested in your success!

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About the author: Dumont Gerken Owen has extensive experience helping individuals actualize their career/life dreams in the higher education, nonprofit and for profit sectors. Gerken Owen is dedicated to personal authenticity and work-life balance. She has helped thousands of individuals by guiding them through the career transition process and job search campaigns. Gerken Owen designs individual programs around her client’s goals and budget.

She is a Certified Career Management Coach with a doctorate in Higher Education and a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Services, specializing in vocational counseling, from The Florida State University.

Visit her website and blog, careerwindowsonline.com, or e-mail her at dumontowen@careerwindowsonline.com for a free hour consultation.

Industry Events

10/26 American Marketing Association (AMA) Akron-Canton Chapter Fall Networking Fling, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Figaro Farms, Uniontown, $20,www.akroncantonama.org.

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10/27 American Advertising Federation Cleveland Chapter Mad Men Happy Hour, 6 p.m., Stone Mad Pub, Cleveland, free, www.aafcleveland.com. Co-hosted with 32 Below, the group’s young professionals unit.

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10/27 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Cleveland Chapter: The Power of PR Diversity Reception, 4:30 p.m., Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland, free, register, www.prsacleveland.org. I go to meetings I’m interested in.

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10/28 Akron Bloggers Community, 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Mocha Joe’s, Stow, free, on LinkedIn groups. Bloggers group for Akron-area residents. I have attended some meetings this summer.

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10/28 AAF Cleveland Chapter  and The Creative Group Portfolio Review Night, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Waterstreet Grill, Cleveland, RSVP cleveland@creativegroup.com, www.aafcleveland.com. Evening of networking, cocktails, food, and viewing some creative portfolios in Cleveland marketing.

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10/28 Cleveland Digital Publishing Users Group (CDPUG): The Top 10 Biggest Challenges For Designers Going From Print To Web with Lisa Gruber-Gebby, 6 p.m., New Horizons Computing Learning Center, Garfield Heights, $10 nonmembers, cdpug.org. I’m now a member and will helping with the group’s blog.

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10/30 NEOSTC Joomla Workshop,8:30 a.m.- noon, Compuware, Independence, $45 nonmembers, limited space, RSVP Ginny Haas, www.neostc.org. Learn more about the content management system. Interesting to me; although I’ll be working with WordPress.

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11/02 Greater Cleveland Writers Meetup Group, 7 p.m., Leandog Software, Cleveland, $5, RSVP, www.meetup.com/cleveland-writers-forum.

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11/05 CANCELED Medical Capital Bus Tour, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Embassy Suites, Independence, $80, RSVP, limited seating, on LinkedIn events. Cleveland Plus hosting third annual Healthcare Communicators Summit. Learn about NE Ohio’s healthcare assets.

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11/09 Greater Cleveland Digital Marketing Meetup Group, 7 p.m., The Spaghetti Warehouse, Akron, $5 bi-annually, www.meetup.com/Greater-Cleveland-Digital-Marketing. Topic: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Google AdWords. I have been to one meeting so far.

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11/09 Sales and Marketing Executives International Akron Chapter, 4 p.m.-8 p.m., The Tangier, Akron, nonmembers workshop $30/workshop and dinner $70 RSVP, www.smei.org /locations. Speaker: Katherine Miracle on The Power of Leadership – Problem Solving and Positive Attitude.

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11/10 American Marketing Association (AMA) Cleveland Chapter Heinen’s: Local Company Success, 5:30 p.m., Doubletree Hotel Lakeside, Cleveland, $45 nonmembers, RSVP, cleveland.marketingpower2.com. I go to events that interest me.

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11/10 Independent Practitioners Group Employers Facing Difficult Questions About Social Media with Robert Gilmore, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Mavis Winkle’s, Independence, $10 nonmembers, RSVP, www.ipgcleveland.org. I have been to one meeting so far. Independent PR people.

Nonindustry Events

10/26 Eco-Tuesday meeting, 5:30 p.m., The Club at Key Center, Cleveland, $5,www.meetup.com/Cleveland-EcoTuesday. Topic: Cuyahoga County executive candidates panel on sustainability.

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10/26 CLOSED Jumpstart Community Meeting, 3 p.m.-5:45 p.m., Wolstein Center, Cleveland State University, free, register, www.jumpstartinc.org. First half is expo of group’s innovators and student innovators; 5 p.m. meeting starts. Interesting.

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10/27 Fairlawn Chamber of Commerce Networking Before 9, 7 a.m.-9 a.m., Fairlawn City Hall, Fairlawn/Akron, free, nonmembers phone ahead to see if can attend, RSVP Polly Riffle, www.fairlawnareachamber.org.

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10/27-28 Ohio Accounting Show, IX Center, Cleveland/Brook Park,www.ohioscpa.com.

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10/28 Canton Chamber of Commerce Stir After Hours, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Akron-Canton Airport, www.cantonchamber.org. Happy hour/networking.

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10/28 Get Connected 2010, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., Akron-Canton Airport, nonmember price (?), RSVP, www.greaterakronchamber.org. Big networking event for Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce, Canton Chamber, Green Chamber, and the Airport.

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10/28 IT Martini 14 Tech or Treat, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Anatomy, Cleveland, $35, register, itmartinihour14.eventbrite.com, www.hyperproductive.com /blog, news and events. Networking event for IT professionals. I believe one was held during the summer. Portion of ticket going to Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

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10/28 National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Cleveland Chapter Brown Bag Lunch, noon-1 p.m., Dollar Bank Conference Room, Galleria, Cleveland, clevelandnawbo.org.

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10/28 Playhouse Square Partners Happy Hour, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., The Blind Pig Speakeasy, Cleveland, $20, RSVP partners@playhousesquare.com, nonmembers welcome, www.playhousesquare.org. I went to speed networking event about one year ago.

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10/28 Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce Clamming Around With The Chamber, 5 p.m., Red’s Place, Twinsburg, $30 adults, www.twinsburgchamber.com. Clam bake/happy hour, BYOB. Bring the family; BayLobsters Fish Market part of event.

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10/29 Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club Networking Breakfast, 8 a.m., Grumpy’s, Cleveland, free, www.cleveland2030.org.

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10/31-11/04 Cleveland Clinic’s Innovation Summit, InterContinental Hotel, Cleveland, www.clevelandclinic.org/innovations/summit.

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11/01 Founders Cafe: Growing Founders – Developing Entrepreneurs, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Tyler Village, Cleveland, $15, RSVP, www.founderscafe.net. Thanks to Dan Y. for telling me about this group. “Have a drink, start a business, make a friend” is the motto of this entrepreneurs group founded by the leaders of Civic Innovation Lab, The Gorilla Group, JumpStart and the Harvard Business School of Northeast Ohio. Hosted by Dan Moore. Looks interesting but could be same night as Moose Bloggers group.

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11/02 Working Women Connection Networking Luncheon, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Rustic Hills Country Club, Medina, $25 nonmembers, RSVP by 10/28, unitingwomenblog.com. Monthly event that brings together all groups of this regional networking organization. Also check out individual chapters for meeting times and days. A group is now established in Mayfield Heights area. I attended a meeting of the Nordonia Chapter (Northfield, Macedonia, etc.)

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11/03 NEO IT Think Tank and CIO 3.0 Meeting, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Corporate Plaza I, Independence, register, on LinkedIn groups and events. Topic: Strategic Business Virtualization: Significantly Lower Cost/Significantly Increased Functionality with Jack Wilson.

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11/04 Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club Around Town, Velvet Dog, Cleveland, free, www.cleveland2030.org. Supplies drive with Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Cleveland Chapter to benefit Cogswell Hall.

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11/04 NAWBO Westside Networking Luncheon, noon-1 p.m., Champp’s Americana, Crocker Park, Westlake, free, RSVP Tina Hamrick,  clevelandnawbo.org.

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11/04 Cleveland Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM) Networking Social, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., The Boneyard, Broadview Heights, $5 preregister by 10/29/$10 door, clevelandshrm.com.

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11/04-05 2010 Entrepreneurship Extravaganza, Kent State University, free, RSVP by 11/02, www.jumpstartinc.org. Includes workshops and panel discussions on minority and not-for-profit businesses, Also Innovation showcase with exhibitors and internship fair.

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11/05 Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club Networking Breakfast, 8 a.m., Grumpy’s, Cleveland, free, www.cleveland2030.org.

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11/05 Cleveland Sports and Business Alliance A Food, Fun and Friendraiser, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Maggiano’s Little Italy, Beachwood Place, Beachwood, free, RSVP, cleveland.sportsandbusiness.net.

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11/05 NEO United States Green Building Council (NEO USGBC) Collaborative Social Networking, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., location TBA, free, RSVP, www.neogbc.org. Combined networking event for this group and AIA Cleveland, ASID Northern Ohio, CSI Cleveland, and more.

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11/08 American Society For Information Science and Technology Northern Ohio Chapter Tour of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum Library and Archives, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus, Cleveland, free (?), nonmember RSVP sfensore@kent.edu 10/28-11/5.

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11/09 Beachwood Chamber of Commerce Networking After 5, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., McCormick and Schmick’s, Beachwood Place, Beachwood, $10 nonmembers, RVSP,www.beachwood.org. I went to one in February; small business owners.

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11/09 Canton Chamber of Commerce Fall Network, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Ales D. Krassas Event Center, $25, RSVP 11/02, www.cantonchamber.org. Sales master Jeff Zalewski will lead attendees through activities and new ways to think about in the field sales.

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11/09 Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook 2011, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., Hilton Akron/Fairlawn, $40 nonmembers, RSVP, www.greaterakronchamber.org. Presented by Jack Kleinhenz, Principal, Kleinhernz and Associates.

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11/09 Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce Connects Networking Night, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., Mavis Winkle’s, Twinsburg, free, www.twinsburgchamber.com. Evening networking for Chamber’s networking group; doubles as restaurant’s networking night. Attendance fluctuates; free munchies. I have been to this.

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11/11 NAWBO Akron Networking Luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m., Vaccaro’s Trattoria, Bath/Akron, free, RSVP Angie 330-650-4777,  clevelandnawbo.org.

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11/11 Networking…My Cup of Tea, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Akron Woman’s City Club, Akron, $15.45 plus Eventbrite fee, http://networkingmycupoftea.eventbrite.com,  www.greaterakronchamber.org. “Meet the area’s best professional businesswomen for a special night out!”

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11/11 Northeast Ohio Usability Professionals Association (NEOUPA) World Usability Day Celebration, 1 p.m., Crowne Plaza, Independence, $40 nonmembers, neoupa.org. An entire afternoon dedicated to UX education and training. Presenters from various companies, including Land’s End, Medical Mutual of Ohio and NASA. Check out the schedule. I went to one presentation earlier this year.

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11/12 ASTD Northeast Ohio Chapter Coffee, Chats and Contacts: Corporate Universities, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., Akron General Health and Wellness Center, Fairlawn/Akron, price (?), neo.astd.org.

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11/12 Canton Chamber of Commerce AultCare Fast Break Breakfast, 7:30 a.m.-9:15 a.m., Courtyard By Marriott, North Canton, $25 nonmembers, RSVP, www.cantonchamber.org. Speaker: Ray Hexamer, CEO, First Communications.

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11/12 Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club Networking Breakfast, 8 a.m., Grumpy’s, Cleveland, free, www.cleveland2030.org.

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11/12-14 Cleveland Startup Weekend, $75 and various prices, cleveland.startupweekend.org. Developers, business managers, marketing people, and graphic artists come together for 54 hours to build companies, projects and communities. Sounds interesting.

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11/13 Greater Cleveland PC Users Group Digital Photography with Charles Burkett, 9:30 a.m.-noon, Cleveland State University, free, www.gcpcug.org. Meeting after meeting, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., Student Center.

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