Elevator Pitch

iStock_000007269826XSmallYour elevator pitch is a twenty-to thirty-second statement that tells networking contacts and company decision makers that you have what it takes to resolve their outstanding problem(s). It’s centered on your branded value proposition, what you offer, what you bring to the table. As such, it’s an extraordinarily valuable networking and selling tool.

It acquired its name from the concept of accidentally meeting a decision maker or valuable networking contact in an elevator, recognizing it as a golden opportunity, introducing yourself, and in about thirty seconds telling him who you are and describing your value proposition. The assumption is that if you have captured the interest of the decision maker or contact, the conversation will continue after you both have left the elevator.

Your elevator pitch will need to be tailored to the individual networking contact or decision maker, recognizing that they all have different needs and varying agendas. If you’re networking socially, you can use your elevator pitch when you hear this request: So, what do you do? Your elevator pitch is a great way to immediately let your contact know what you’re passionate about (your brand), what you do for companies, and how that combination will add to his luster by suggesting a great job candidate (you) for a job opening.

You can also use your elevator pitch when you hear this request: Tell me about yourself.

If you’ve networked your way into your target company, you can use your elevator pitch to expand on your value proposition in detail. And that’s exactly what you want. You want to demonstrate that you have a thorough grasp of the problem(s) facing the company by describing in enough detail how you’ve handled similar problems before and how you’re ready to handle those same kinds of problems starting on day one of a new job.

Here’s an example of an elevator pitch a job candidate made to a contact within his target company who said, “Tell me about yourself.”

“John, thanks for your interest. I’ve had twenty- five years in pivotal roles reducing costs for the three companies I’ve worked for. With my current employer, as vice president of manufacturing, I’ve trimmed the labor force by 23 percent, reduced warranty costs 18 percent, and cut finished goods inventory by a third. I would like to show you specifically how I achieved every one of those cost reductions. Is this a good time?” (That last question in an interview shows you’re ready to close the sale. Don’t leave it up to chance. Try to move directly into describing exactly how you accomplished those cost reductions.)

Of course, that pitch assumes the contact’s or decision maker’s biggest problem is excess costs. If your contact is an experienced quality professional you’ll want to emphasize how you reduced warranty costs, and if the contact is an inventory professional, you’ll want to emphasize inventory control along with measures you installed that resulted in an inventory reduction, and so on. The point is to be ready to tailor your elevator pitch to the individual networking contact or decision maker, recognizing that each may have different needs and varying agendas.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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Seven Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Contacts

bigstockphoto_Global_Community_4404997Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone recommends that you build your network before you need it and keep in touch with your network on an ongoing basis. He also recommends that you periodically connect with each of your contacts to keep abreast of their initiatives and to share yours.

To do this efficiently and effortlessly, you want to enter or import your contacts into an electronic database. You’ll need the capability to enter contact information, miscellaneous notes and dates that are important to you, and the names, addresses, phone numbers (including Skype or FaceTime), and email addresses of your contacts.

What follows are a few ideas that may help you stay in touch with your network:

1. Email a newsletter that tells your contacts about your most recent activities. If your contacts don’t hear from you on a regular basis they’ll assume you no longer need their help, or that you’re no longer interested in helping them. Of course, if you have hundreds in your network you might want to consider using an e-news service provider such as Aweber, ConstantContact, MyEmma, or use a similar newsletter distribution program.

2. Invite your contacts to join you on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Between newsletters, use these sites to broadcast a brief, 140-character message regarding your status. Your newsletter will allow you to communicate your thoughts and status in detail and the 140-character postings will allow you to keep people up to date on a more frequent basis – but only if they approve. Get their permission first.

3. Send a link to your contacts when you see their names mentioned on the Internet. This may be an article or press release that quotes or features them. It might be an announcement for awards they received, speaking engagements, tournaments they won, or charitable contributions they made. Whatever the case, show them that you’re genuinely interested in them.

4. Send links to your contacts containing information they would enjoy reading about or information that would be valuable to them. To help you effortlessly find this type of information, set up RSS feeds using a news aggregator application such as Feedly. Then all you need to do is copy and paste the link into an email and send it to your contacts.

5. Send greeting cards for important business and personal dates in their lives. These might be employment anniversaries, graduation dates, special awards, certification achievements, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and so on. For this initiative you can use SendOutCards (US) or JacquieLawson

6. For your contacts who publish blogs, post a few comments on their blogs occasionally. While blogs are a public forum (meaning don’t post personal information), they allow you to show your contacts that you’re thinking of them.

7. Pick up the phone and call your contacts at least every three to four months.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

 *This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

 

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What is Networking?

iStock_000002118196XSmallNetworking is about building relationships and making connections with people who will lead you to jobs. What makes it especially effective is its quid-pro-quo aspect: it’s about helping others who can also help you. Bear in mind that it’s a process, and not a hit-and-run action.

Networking is based on the tested theory of six degrees of separation which states there’s a chain of no more than six people that links every person on the planet to every other person. The beauty of the technique is that you start with a series of contacts, and that series leads you to other contacts, which lead you to others until you’ve located an executive position. The progress is geometric because every lead can open the door to two or three other leads, and your initial contacts mushroom.

Categorize the people you want to network with according to three lists:

  • People of high influence in your job search
  • People who know you well and have some influence
  • Individuals of influence who may not know you well, but who could be helpful.

Networking Sources

Today, we’re lucky to have so many diverse ways to develop, nurture, and connect with our network. Consider, for example, these online and offline venues:

Online Networking

Career-focused membership websites that offer online member-to-member networking include ExecuNet, RiteSite, 6 Figure Jobs.

Professional and business networking websites that focus on building a network of contacts that lead to business and job opportunities include LinkedIn, Xing, Viadeo.

Online business communities

There are thousands of associations that host online and face-to-face networking events. Weddles Association Directory can help you find one in your industry.

Blogs

There are hundreds of blogs published by CEOs and senior-level management executives. By posting to their blogs, you are able to have a dialog with them and position yourself for one-on-one networking opportunities. For a list of blogs check out TheNewPR/Wiki’s “Who’s blogging/podcasting”.

Harvey Mackay, in his book Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, recommends that to manage your network properly, you should contact each person every three months. He writes: “[Your] network provides a path, a way of getting from point A to point B in the shortest possible time over the least possible distance.” One of his maxims proclaims, “A network is an organized collection of your personal contacts and your personal contacts’ own networks. Networking is finding fast, whom you need, to get what you need, in any given situation, and helping others do the same.”

Bottom line: It’s all about being proactive, making the appropriate connections, and adopting an attitude of give and take.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

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Why Pursue The Hidden Job Market

iStock_000003892180XSmallAre you ready for a shocking statistic? A review of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report states that the majority of all jobs are hidden or unadvertised. The actual percentage changes month to month but has been interpreted by some experts to be as high as 80 percent. This would indicate that only 20 percent of jobs are posted.

The hidden job market refers to unadvertised positions. They’re normally found only through networking with your contacts until you locate decision makers either contemplating hiring an executive, or companies with an existing opening they prefer to fill through personal contacts rather than through the traditional routes of hiring recruiters or running ads in trade papers and online.

This underground market is extensive, but it’s difficult to put a number on it because the positions are not advertised, not filled through recruiters, nor posted on job boards online. And most of those positions are for executives.

The number of positions available through the hidden job market has been increasing recently. A few of the reasons why such positions may not be posted and thus classified as hidden include:

  • People resign, retire, pass away, are fired for illegal or immoral behavior, or may be deemed inadequate and flagged for replacement.
  • Staff reductions have left many human resource (HR) departments operating with minimum staff.
  • In an effort to cut costs, many companies that regularly contract with executive search firms have decided to eliminate this expense.
  • Employed executives may have submitted their resignations but agreed to stay on until replacements arrive.
  • Company decision makers may be formulating new positions, but have not yet developed job descriptions, skill requirements

There are many reasons companies prefer not to advertise job openings. For instance a need for secrecy, the high cost of using recruiters, and not wanting to get swamped with résumés and applications (overloading the human resources function). But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying to uncover these seemingly ellusive jobs. It takes a lot of networking and research, but there’s very little, if any, competition for these opportunities.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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Are You Crystal Clear About Your Value Proposition?

iStock_000015653759XSmallYour branded value proposition is your unique promise of value. It is a statement of the tangible results a company expects to gain by hiring you. But how do you define this value and, most importantly, how do you demonstrate your value to the company you are interviewing with?

When defining value, it is important to keep these key factors in mind:

  • Your value proposition must be compelling. For instance, significant cost cutting, hefty profit improvements, large sales increases, opening major new markets, or customer satisfaction turnarounds that spell the difference between company success and failure. Always remember this: Top decision makers are interested in sweeping changes, not miniscule improvements.
  • Focus on top line, bottom line, market share, and shareholder value. Improvements in any of these four fundamental categories will make the decision maker’s eyes shine and bring a welcoming smile to his or his face.
  • You need to relate your value proposition in terms of what the hiring company can reasonably expect. That objective must be first and foremost on your mind during the interview because, more than anything else, it will help you land the job you’re seeking and get you off to a fast start. Showing how you drive value is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of the business and your ability to help the hiring company succeed. This language speaks directly to the decision maker.

Every accomplishment you claim must be ultimately tied to the bottom line … even if you don’t have P&L responsibility. This is vital, because every decision maker is interested in profitability.

When creating your value proposition, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I bring to the table?
  • How consistently successful have I been in impacting the top line, the bottom line, increasing market share, and increasing shareholder value?

Remember that a clearly defined and clearly stated value proposition communicates your value to the hiring organization. It identifies your natural talents and aligns them with your target companies and intersects with the company’s brand, creating a perfect marriage between you and the company you are interested in working for.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

 

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Is Your Brand In Alignment With Your Goals?

iStock_000010175272XSmallPersonal branding is the future of executive career management. It means identifying and communicating what makes you unique, relevant, and compelling so that you can reach your career goals and achieve your purpose.

Personal branding is about differentiation. It’s about leveraging what makes you exceptional so you stand out from the myriad others who offer seemingly similar talents and expertise. Personal branding helps you stand heads and shoulders above the competition by highlighting your unique promise of value.

When you become clear about your brand it gives your career greater meaning and fulfillment. You’ll feel more energized and purpose-driven. Personal branding allows you to be authentic and capitalize on your uniqueness.

Differentiating between Your Personal and Executive Brand

So what is your personal brand and your executive brand? Your personal brand is your unique vision and purpose combined with your values and passions. Just as your DNA and fingerprints are unique, your entire chemistry, makeup, and style are unique. It’s how you approach everything you do. Your executive brand is how you lead a team, an organization, or a project. It’s how you communicate with peers, customers, vendors, partners, and the board.

Your executive brand involves your reputation and how others view you. You already have a brand. It may not be congruent with who you are, but your peers can tell you what attributes you’re known for in the office. If your brand isn’t congruent with what you think it is, why is that? Do you think one way and act differently? Do you pursue a career path because intellectually it makes sense? Or are you chasing the money or someone else’s dream?

Determining your personal and executive brand is rewarding. Once you’re clear about your brand, your career path becomes congruent with your personal brand and instills a sense of purpose and self-worth. Once you develop a communications plan and begin radiating your brand, you’ll find wonderful opportunities opening up for you.

The Rough Waters of Branding

Make no mistake about it: strong brands both attract and repel. Your brand will help you find the right corporate fit and culture. On the other hand a strong brand may repel an employer, but that’s okay. You don’t want to work in an environment that makes you uneasy. It literally drains the life right out of you. You won’t be able to do your best work if your brand is in opposition to the company’s brand. Plus, you won’t be climbing the corporate ladder if your brand isn’t a fit with the company’s.

Having a clear understanding of your brand will drive your career. Communicating your brand will attract the right opportunities and environments where you can make an impact while fulfilling your purpose.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

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Are You Executing A Passive Or Active Job Search?

There are two basic types of job seekers: passive and active. Passive job seekers are those who choose the path of least resistance. They typically just send out résumés, then sit back and wait for a response. Active job seekers proactively seek out opportunities, target specific companies, and pursue them relentlessly. They reach out to others to request the information and help they need. They proactively think about how they can bring value to companies. Passive job seekers use two approaches, both of them marginally productive at best and totally ineffective at worst:

  • A serial approach where they update their résumé, submit it to job openings posted on Internet job boards, or to recruiters, and ask network contacts for leads. In all cases they wait passively for responses.
  • A trial-and-error approach where they begin with one method, such as submitting their résumé to posted positions on job boards … and when that approach fails they switch to another method … and when that doesn’t work they try another method. And so on. This trial-and-error approach makes for a very long and drawn out job search. It leads to frustration and disappointment. It also drains the nest egg.

Consider browsing online job boards as the least productive activity. Many of the jobs posted there come from recruiters testing the waters for potential available candidates. They’re also the most dangerous if you’re still employed because you never know whom you’re sending your résumé to, and how it may bounce back to the company where you’re employed. Job search is marketing! You need to actively market your qualifications. Create a job search strategy similar to that of a business. Think about the companies you’ve worked for in the past. Most likely they used multiple mediums and venues for marketing their products and services. You need to do the same. In today’s economy, you need to blend a targeted search with the traditional job search methods. You need to create a multi-channel, multi-media strategy that leverages your efforts and provides a return on investment of your time and resources while shortening the time it takes to land a high-paying and meaningful position.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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Considering An Industry Change?

iStock_000012260427XSmallWhether you’re a one-industry career veteran whose industry recently succumbed to unfavorable economic conditions, or an executive who wants to or needs to change industries, there is a great deal of due diligence required for a successful transition. In our current economic environment where most employers are unwilling to take chances, executive candidates must have a thorough understanding of the industry they are pursuing and be able to articulate the value they bring to an organization.

If you’re in this situation, it’s best at this stage to inventory your qualifications, examine your company preferences, and research industries.

To begin, create a list of personal preferences including:

  • Values, interests, and aspirations
  • Innate talents, greatest strengths, and core competencies
  • Preferences regarding corporate culture and values

Next, evaluate your company preferences:

  • Company size – small-, mid-, large-cap
  • Structure – public, private, non-profit
  • Source of funding – VC, PE
  • Growth model – organic or growth by acquisition
  • Footprint – local, national, international, global
  • Type of organization – traditional, pioneer, hyper growth, etc.
  • Governance – board, regulatory bodies
  • Leadership style – hierarchy, flat
  • Reputation
  • Executive turnover rate and reasons

Then, research and identify industries in which you have an interest using these sites:

  • NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes: http://www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html.
  • NYSE Euronext: http://www.nyse.com/about/listed/lc_all_industry.html. The Industry Classification Benchmark* (ICB) — which comprises 10 industries, 18 supersectors, 40 sectors and 114 subsectors — provides accurate and globally accepted industry and sector classifications.
  • Polson Enterprises: http://www.virtualpet.com/industry/. This site provides an online step-by-step process for researching industries and companies with links to thousands of resources.
  • Hoover’s Online, http://www.hoovers.com – Site has an Industry Master List with drill down capability to industry trends, industry snapshots, major companies in the industry, associations, organizations, publications, press releases, glossaries, and more.

Completing these steps will lay the groundwork for a comparison between the industry or industries in which you have worked and the similarities or lack thereof with other industries. This will help you identify your transferable qualifications and the value you bring to another industry table.

With proper due diligence, executives are able to change industries smoothly. You simply need to identify key industry characteristics and aggressively pursue the transition to achieve the success you desire when landing an executive position at a new company or in a new industry.

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Is Your Job Search Strategy Producing The Results You Want?

iStock_000030155864SmallA focused job search includes extreme clarity, a concentrated effort, persistence, and out-of-the-box thinking. It also includes a system and methodology including upfront analysis and planning, research and investigation, a due diligence process, organization of multiple concurrent activities, and precise execution.

In Bryan Golden’s, nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column, Dare to Live Without Limits, his March 4, 2009 column in The Resident is entitled “Concentrated Effort Brings Success.” He writes, “It’s true, success does take effort. But it also takes as much, if not more, effort to continuously struggle without being on a path to success. Living takes effort. However, you have the power to formulate any strategy you want for expending your effort. You can scatter your efforts so nothing is accomplished. Or you can concentrate your effort into a powerful force.”

Here is an analogy Golden provides to make his case: “What happens when spilled jet fuel on a runway is ignited? It burns, creates a lot of heat, but doesn’t get you anywhere. But burn it in a jet engine and you then have the means to get to a specific destination.

“Why are there different results? When fuel burns on the runway, its effort is dispersed and nothing is accomplished. When it burns in a jet engine, the effort is concentrated and the effort is concentrated and directed in one direction. Only in the engine will the fuel’s effort get you anywhere.”

Only in the engine will the fuel’s effort get you anywhere.

“It’s true, success does take effort. But it also takes as much, if not more, effort to continuously struggle without being on a path to success.”

The same can be said for job search.

  • Focus your job search efforts. The intensity you build with focus will help you carry the day.
  • Decide on the type of job you want. Create a job description for your ideal or dream job. Be precise and include the challenges, responsibilities, team environment, and culture.
  • Decide what type of company interests you. Would you prefer to work for a company funded by private equity or venture capital? Would you prefer to work for a large public company or small privately held company? A forward thinking, fast paced company or a time-honored, deliberate company? A regulated or non-regulated company?
  • Research your ideal job. Talk to executives who have held the position in which you are interested. Do a target-gap analysis of the skills, knowledge, and abilities you’ll need for your ideal position. Decide how you’ll overcome the gaps.
  • Perform an analysis of your existing network. Develop a strategy for expanding your network so you can connect with the people who can help you.
  • Study your target companies. Talk to people who currently work for your target companies, as well as those who previously worked for the companies.
  • Study your target industry. Conduct research to find out where the industry is headed, how the industry is faring in this economic downturn, and what challenges and barriers the industry faces.
  • Create a customized version of your marketing materials (résumé, accomplishment stories, positioning statement, cover letter, and other materials) that you can use for your target job. Use these customized versions as your leave behind marketing pieces. In other words, materials you can leave with people you have spoken with regarding your target job. By way of an example, consider meetings you’ve had with sales professionals. Most likely they provided customized documentation and left a brochure and other marketing materials for your review and consideration. Follow this strategy and you’ll find your job search efforts more rewarding.

The bottom line: Job search is all about networking and getting internal contacts at target companies to recommend you.

 

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Tips for Enhancing Your Executive Brand within the Organization

Brands are built on your daily actions and behavior. There is no such thing as a communication, activity, posture, or approach that doesn’t count. Your brand is constantly being evaluated by those around you—both consciously and unconsciously.

While most senior executives are not of the chest-pounding type, when it comes to managing your career, it is important to find subtle ways to promote yourself within the organization.

Following are a few tips for enhancing and promoting your executive brand within the organization:

  • If you’re an expert in a particular area, but you’re not recognized for your expertise, try increasing your executive presence and brand by asking to speak at the next board meeting or executive committee meeting. Volunteer to head a task force, committee, special initiative team, oversight office, or best practices group that will allow you to showcase your expertise and demonstrate your brand. If no such group exists, consider initiating and leading one.
  • Consider preparing a monthly report for your boss, board, investors, or owners outlining your business unit’s monthly goals and accomplishments and how those accomplishments impacted the business objectives, profitability, market share, shareholder value, stakeholder value, etc. This will enable you to demonstrate your leadership and brand persona while keeping your superiors abreast of your business unit’s progress.
  • Position your brand and expertise by mentoring, coaching, and training others. Consider creating training programs, demonstrations, audio/video presentations, podcasts, power point presentations, instruction manuals, tip sheets, how-to articles, and ebooks and publishing them in the company’s newsletter or posting them on the company’s intranet or internal blog. Social media venues may be an option depending on the confidential nature of the subject matter.
  • Promote the accomplishments and successes of your team—both individually and collectively. Promote and recognize each individual team member’s accomplishments and successes. Acknowledge them publicly for a job well done. Also, promote the team’s accomplishments and successes. By promoting your team’s and team member’s victories, you position yourself as a dynamic leader of an “A” team. Rest assured, your superiors, colleagues, and peers will know who is leading the team to success.
  • Network internally. Network across every function and level of the organization. Connect with people domestically and globally across all divisions, branches, subsidiaries, companies, etc. Gain brand recognition across the entire conglomerate.

Now let’s take a look at a few of the more obvious ways to enhance and promote your brand.

  • Your environment: What impression does your office radiate? Is everything in your office in line with your brand?

If your highest value is integrity, do you have a picture or poster expressing integrity? If your brand is team work, do you have posters representing team work? If your brand is global, do you have a globe on a pedestal or world maps hanging on the wall? What books, journals, or publications do you have sitting on your desk or in your reference library? What electronics, equipment, and tools are visible (either physically or on your computer screen)? What types of artifacts are sitting on your shelves? What does your furniture say about you? What does your pen say about you?

  • Your expression: What impression do you radiate?

Is your personal grooming in line with your brand? What kind of watch do you wear? What kind of personal electronics do you use? What kind of vehicle do you drive? If your brand is top performance, are you driving a vehicle renowned for top performance? If your brand is reliability, do you drive an all-wheel vehicle? If your brand is efficiency, do you drive a car renowned for incredible fuel efficiency? If your brand is technological innovation, do you drive a car renowned for state of the art technology?

It’s important to note that if you are honoring your unique brand, any adjustments you make to these personal or environmental elements will reduce stress, support your innate talents and expertise, ignite your passions and lead to greater fulfillment.

Incorporating just one or two of these strategies will help you elevate your brand visibility and position yourself for the next level.

Let me know how it works for you.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at Beverly@HarveyCareers.com.  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

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