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专栏 - 向Anne提问

巧妙利用关系网,求职照做万人迷

Anne Fisher 2011年07月06日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
求职者知道,为了抢占先机,应该充分利用社交网络,但是他们的做法却有好有坏。

    亲爱的安妮:虽然我不能接受退休,但是我还是选择了“内退”,以免被雇主解雇。在过去的几个月中,我一直在寻找一份项目管理的工作。我有个问题,希望得到您的解答。

    经常有人告诉我,我应该联系职业圈里所有的熟人,询问他们是否知道哪里有职位空缺,因为最好的工作(特别是管理职位)不会发布招聘广告。我一直在这么做,直到最后,同事不再回复我的电话或Tweets,我觉得我已经让人厌烦了。您或您的读者对此有什么好的建议吗?我现在该怎么办?—局外人

    亲爱的局外人:毫无疑问,在目前的经济形势下,很多人拥有广博的人脉关系,但他们却患上了一种所谓的“社交疲劳”症。

    乔纳森•克林德勒表示:“如果你和你的社交圈内的某个人联系,而这个人好像不太愿意与你沟通,那么这个人就患上了‘社交疲劳’症。他或她可能已经接到过太多求职者的电话,而且确切地说,他们都在寻找有关职位的相同信息。”

    FreshTransition是一家提供在线职业生涯管理工具的公司。克林德勒是公司的共同创始人。他主张,要打破这个瓶颈,求职者需要做好充分准备,着眼长远,为未来可能出现的机遇做好准备。这听起来可能有些不切实际,但是,克林德勒指出,这是销售精英在竞争中胜出,赢得新客户的最佳方式。

    克林德勒表示:“成功的销售人员具有发现未来机遇的能力。他们通过逐步建立关系网,占领先机。”这一方法对求职者而言也是有效的,原因如下。

    首先,克林德勒指出:“公司就像生命有机体,在不断地发生变化。总有员工退休或离职,或者新项目启动,因此,总会有新的职位空缺产生。通过采取前瞻性思维,你就能在事前发现机遇。”

    其次,你所遇到的情况近来日益普遍,但是着眼长远可以帮助避免这一问题,消除过度损耗关系网这一风险。克林德勒表示:“当你询问职位空缺,而且如果没有职位空缺时,你们的对话就会终止。不仅如此,通过这次谈话,你也表明了自己的意图。下次当你再联系同一个人时,他早就知道你的意图。如果他无法帮助你,你们就无话可说了。”

    反之,如果利用销售精英使用的方式来培养社交关系,那么继续维持交往并最终找到工作的机会就大得多。克林德勒在此提供四条建议,以供参考:

    1. 开始交换信息。克林德勒建议:“关键是要做到充分了解你的目标行业,这样,在与业内人士沟通时,你就能参与到讨论中,而不是寻求帮助。”

    “提供信息,或者询问某人对某一行业问题的看法,而不是寻求帮助,这可以产生一种完全不同的动力”——这种动力可能让人们更愿意接听你的电话。

    2. 管理潜在的信息源。克林德勒指出,销售精英非常细心地记录与潜在消费者的每次对话,求职者应该以他们为榜样。

    克林德勒表示:“求职者需要详细记录与之交谈过的每个人、交谈的时间和主题。当你在专业刊物或行业博客中发现相关的话题时,同时发送给有关人员,这样,你们就能继续对话了。”

    3. 少说多听。倾听得越认真,就越能发现机遇,“所以,当一种趋势转变为职位空缺时,你就会知道如何抓住机遇,”克林德勒表示。

    4. 乐于做某个特定领域的“热心肠”。现在,许多领域的销售精英像顾问一样,具有解决问题的经验,而不仅仅是推销产品或服务。克林德勒建议求职者也应该做到这一点。

    每周腾出一点儿时间,回答人际关系网(LinkedIN)问答环节中的问题。克林德勒表示:“这是一个绝好的机会,帮助你和那些与你面临同样问题的人建立一种联系。当你回答问题时,附上你的联系信息,并简要地‘推销’自己。”你永远都想不到究竟谁会看到这些信息,并且决定聘用你。

    这样做涉及大量工作,克林德勒是第一个承认这一点的人。“这并不容易,要有耐心,”他表示。但是他同时也补充道:“销售人员能取得销售成功,不是因为他们能说会道,而是因为他们在销售过程中赢得了潜在消费者的信任,累积了信用。为了成功,求职者需要持有同样的态度。”

    反馈:对求职者来说,社交疲劳确实是个问题,你同意这一点吗?求职者要如何应对呢?欢迎发表评论。

    Dear Annie: I'm hoping you can clear something up for me. I've been looking for a job in project management for the past several months, after taking "early retirement" as an alternative to getting laid off, although I can't afford to retire yet.

    I keep hearing that I should be contacting everyone I've known in my career to ask if they know of any openings, since the best available jobs (especially management positions) aren't advertised anywhere. So I've been doing that, but it's getting to the point where people aren't returning my phone calls or answering my Tweets anymore, and I feel like I'm wearing out my welcome. Do you or your readers have any suggestions on where to go from here? — Outside Looking In

    Dear Outside: No doubt about it, in this economy, plenty of well-connected people have come down with an ailment you might call networking fatigue.

    "If you contact someone in your network and that person seems not to want to talk to you, then it's the wrong person," says Jonathan Kreindler. "He or she is probably hearing from too many job seekers, and they're all after the exact same information about current job openings."

    Kreindler, who is a co-founder of FreshTransition, a company that offers online career-management tools, contends that the way to get past that bottleneck is to start thinking long-term, by positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities that don't exist yet. This may sound impossible but, Kreindler notes, it's the way top salespeople beat out the competition and win new customers.

    "Successful salespeople have a knack for spotting future opportunities," he says. "They develop leads by building relationships gradually over time." For job hunters, this approach makes sense for a couple of reasons.

    First, "companies are like living organisms. Things change constantly. People retire or quit and new projects get launched, so new opportunities are always on the horizon," says Kreindler. "By putting yourself ahead of the curve, you find out about them in advance rather than after the fact."

    And second, taking a long-term approach helps avoid the situation you describe, an increasingly common one these days, where "you run the risk of wearing out your network," Kreindler says, adding: "Once you've asked about current openings and there aren't any, the conversation is over. Not only that, but you've defined the equation so that, the next time you contact that person, they already know what it's about and, if they can't help you, there's no dialogue."

    By contrast, cultivating your network the way top salespeople do is far more likely to lead to the kind of continuing connections that result in getting hired. Four tips from Kreindler on how to do it:

    1. Start an exchange of information. "The key is to know your target industry so well that, when you communicate with people in it, you're participating in a discussion, not asking for a favor," Kreindler suggests.

    "Offering information, or asking someone's views on an industry issue, rather than requesting help, sets up a completely different dynamic" -- one that may make people more willing to take your phone calls.

    2. Manage your pipeline of prospects. Kreindler notes that top salespeople are meticulous about keeping track of every conversation with a potential customer, and job seekers should follow their lead.

    "Keep detailed records of everyone you've spoken with, when, and what you talked about," he says. "Then, when you see something relevant in the trade press or an industry blog, send it along and continue the conversation."

    3. Listen twice as much as you talk. The more carefully you listen, the better able you'll be to recognize opportunities on the horizon, "so you'll know how to position yourself to take advantage when a trend becomes a job opening," says Kreindler.

    4. Be the "go-to" person on a particular subject. In many industries now, top salespeople act like consultants, bringing problem-solving expertise rather than just pushing a product or service, and Kreindler advises job seekers to do likewise.

    One way is to set aside a bit of time each week to answer questions in the Q & A section of LinkedIn (LNKD), which "offers a tremendous opportunity to connect with people who are struggling with an issue you have worked on in the past," Kreindler says. "When you answer a question, include your contact information and a brief 'elevator pitch' about your background." You never know who might see it and decide they need you.

    Kreindler is the first to admit that this all adds up to a lot of work. "It's not easy, and it takes patience," he says. But, he adds, "Salespeople often get the sale because they are trusted and have built their credibility over time, not because they hit prospects over the head with a sales pitch. To succeed now, job seekers need to adopt the same mindset."

    Talkback: Do you agree that networking fatigue is a problem for job seekers now? What can they do about it? Leave a comment below.

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