How to Get Your Leg in the Room

An international client once said to me, “I just want to get my leg in the room.”

It took me a beat before I realized he wanted to get his foot in the door.

Appendages aside, have I sold you yet on the ineffectiveness of a passive job search and the need to conduct a targeted, proactive job search?

Is that a “Yes, Yes, Yes!” I hear? Fantastic!

Which bring us to today’s job search reality: The bulk of your job search should be focused on getting into the companies you have identified at your target employers.

Regardless of whether they have a position posted for which you’re qualified, these are your ideal companies. You want to determine who in your network can help you get to the decision makers in those organizations.

Yes, Virginia, it really is all about networking.

For those of you who think networking is akin to a four-letter word, let’s break it down: Networking is an exchange of information among colleagues. It should be conducted throughout your career, not just during a job search.

Believe it or not, even though you are actively job searching, your interactions with your network can—.and should—be mostly about them. This “exchange among equals” networking strategy is one of the techniques I teach my clients, as well as specific techniques for connecting with your network.

Let’s spend a moment trying to organize your contacts. For each of your targeted companies, write down who you know in these categories:

Quadrant 1: People who work in your targeted company, and who know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in

Quadrant 2: People who know the decision-makers, but don’t work at your targeted company

Quadrant 3: People who work in your targeted company, but don’t know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in

Quadrant 4: Influencers who neither work at your targeted company nor know the decision-makers in the area you want to work in, but who know a lot of people

As you fill in the quadrants for each of your targeted companies, you goal is to have at least one contact in Quadrant 1. If all you can come up with is Quadrant 4 contacts…it’s a starting point.

Think of it as a dart board: you may be starting on an outer rung, but at least your dart is on the board. Keep working at it, and eventually you will gain access to Quadrant 1 contacts for each of your target employers.

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