The Power of Not Very Powerful People
Donald Asher is the author of “Cracking the Hidden Job Market.” The book is full of common sense tips for finding a job, combined with get tough orders on what it takes to become employed. For example, Asher says you should have 100 active leads all the time. 100 active leads working all the time. The good news is, then, he tells you how to go about it.
In one chapter, he talks about listing everyone you know and approaching them for leads. And he means everyone. He spends a good deal of time on people you might never consider for leads – the very opposite of the “powerful” people in your town or industry who would appear naturally at the top of your list.
Much of his advice is about simply talking to everyone you meet; you never know where or when a lead may come to you. One story he recounts is of a job candidate who’d flown into town for an interview. As she rode to the interview in a cab, she asked the cabbie what he thought of the company. His response wasn’t favorable; he’d heard many bad things. “Tough place to work, unfair, broken promises. That kind of thing. I think _____ company is better, and they’re in the same industry.”
The applicant took the time after her interview to call the other company. She told them that she was in town interviewing with the competition, and asked if they’d be willing to speak with her while she was in town on the other company’s dime. She wound up getting two offers, and could choose the better of the two companies.
People have made connections and learned about leads from babysitters, landscapers, dog walkers, waiters, and yes, cabbies. I know a guy here in Jacksonville who has a very small circle of friends; he has a full time and a part time job in Jacksonville, but I guarantee that you’ve never heard of him. Every time Kenny Chesney or Faith Hill comes to town to perform, they have dinner with him. Every time. Their treat. If you wanted to break into country music, he’d be a guy to know.
We know from networking training that people love to be asked for advice; it makes them feel important and seen. The problem is we often focus only on who we consider powerful, and they get asked a lot. It’s the connected, but not powerful, people who may have the best leads. Talk to everyone.
P.S.: Talk nice. The flip side of this rule is that you never know how someone you interact with is connected. I also know a woman who was running a few minutes late for her third interview for a great job. Traffic was heavy, and the car in front of her just wasn’t moving fast enough. She made an ill-advised gesture, yelled out her window, and drove into another lane to go around the offending vehicle. Imagine her surprise when the slow driver (the company’s director) finally arrived and called her into the office to start the interview. Talk to everyone, and talk nice.