Buy or Sell?

There is an insider secret that all top salesmen know. People don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. It’s an important concept that every finance executive should also know.

Selling a prospective company would be akin to relying on experience, credentials, education, and perhaps, even the companies for whom you’ve worked. That sales job probably won’t work.

A company wants to buy the right candidate, not be sold any candidate. That means positioning yourself as a problem solver … the answer to what they need. Because buying decisions are emotional, solving a company’s pain hits the emotion button and allows a prospect to buy a solution.

Position yourself as someone who can take away the pain and you just might close a sale.

Maintaining Control

I was the guest coach on yesterday’s “Ask the Coach” call for Netshare. Since we always have new people rolling into the call, the questions are sometimes repeats from prior months. Yesterday was no exception.

The question was, generally, “when should I follow up after the interview?”

The job search market is tough. Waiting to hear after the interview oftentimes forces you into a frustrating, anxiety–driven state. You think the interview went well, but you hear nothing. It’s been two weeks, and you don’t know what to do or when to do it.

Here’s where maintaining control becomes your most empowering weapon. Ask when you can expect to hear back and follow up by asking permission to call them if you haven’t heard by a time certain. You will know what to do and when to do it.

Maintain control and keep the power.

Of course, my philosophy is that your real power comes from having a 3 to 5–year strategic plan for your career. Knowing where you want to go, when you want to arrive, who you need to know, and who needs to know about you is where the real power lies.

What’s Your Score?

If you read my column regularly, you know I talk frequently about Google and your online identity. In today’s PhillyBurbs.com, Lou Sessinger discusses … guess what … the importance of a web presence in relation to a job search.

Google your name and then jump to the Career Distinction blog to use the GQ calculator to obtain your Google rating. And then evaluate your digital footprint. Are you digitally distinct? Digitally dabbling? Or, are you a digital dinosaur on the verge of extinction?

What is the relevance quotient? What message are you sending about yourself, and is it the message you want people to receive?

Missed Opportunities

You miss 100% of the opportunities you never receive.

Having an email address specifically for the purpose of finding a job, with the intent of disabling it once you land, is a short–term job search strategy.

Securing a permanent email address used specifically to receive potential opportunities – whether you are in search mode or not – is a long–term career management strategy.

Now, you can choose to operate in the short–term … search for a job, find a job, land in a job, lose a job, search for a job … and on and on and on.

Or, you can begin to view your career as if it is always in perpetual motion and you constantly employ strategies to ensure you capture 100% of the opportunities that come your way.

What’s your plan?

Who Knows About You … and What Do They Know?

"According to The Conference Board, “trends indicate there is a greater supply of employees than there is organizational demand; but The Conference Board analysis paints an incomplete picture, as positions with total annual compensation above $200,000 are rarely found on the open web. According to ExecuNet’s 15th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 75 percent of executive search firm recruiters and 88 percent of corporate human resource professionals revealed that they don’t routinely post those high-earning executive-level positions on public job boards or their own company websites, often relying on networking to source out the top talent." Source: Executive Insider

These statistics reinforce the importance of creating visibility – among your network and online. Networking today is as much about who knows you as it is about who you know. Maybe even more important.

With recruiters levering social networking and job aggregator sites to find passive candidates, visibility online has become a critical component of positioning by savvy executives.

Smart career management begins with Googling yourself on a regular basis to ensure you know what others are reading about you … and … spending five minutes a day on networking.

Is your career worth the investment of 10 minutes a day?

Make Your Contacts Count

Lynne Waymon was a fabulous guest expert in the CFO–Career–Forum last Tuesday. I know that the attendees all walked away with at least one fabulous networking tip.

A few things resonated with me, and hopefully will with you as well.

Lynne mentioned that there are two things others look for in the people they bring into their network … character and competence. Here’s the “aha” moment of that fact. It takes six contacts with someone in order to build character and competence.

What’s important about that statement is that too many people only network when they “need” something, ahem, like a new job. It’s pretty clear that if it takes six encounters to build the trust you need to ask for help, then networking really needs to become a lifelong habit. A mere five minutes a day can significantly strengthen your character and your competence with people who are in a position to help you.

The second thing Lynne talked about, of which I am a huge proponent, is having your own personal Board of Directors. This is akin to a Master Mind group, a close group of networking colleagues who can hold you accountable to reach your goals while encouraging and motivating you along the way.

She says a good network produces, among other things, power and influence. This group of people can be the difference between having trusted colleagues open doors for you, or forever being forced to cold call your way in closed doors. Which do you think would be more effective?

LYNNE WAYMON, Co-Author of Make Your Contacts Count

Would you like to become the natural and only choice when opportunity arises?  Networking is the career tool that will help you do just that.  Learn how to create, cultivate, and capitalize on relationships that will ensure you give the most value to your employer and the greatest boost to your career.

Lynne Waymon, author of “Make Your Contacts Count,” will show you how to make great connections – even if you’ve always said, "I hate networking!" Lynne will show you the 6 stages of relationship building and what to do and say at each stage to build a more trusting relationship.  She’ll show how to network strategically without wasting your time and your money.  She’ll show you the three key moments in networking and how to use conversation to teach people what you’re good at, what to come to your for, what to count on you for – – without bragging!   

Whether you’re looking for a new job or just want to excel in the one you’ve got, join us for an hour on June 19 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and gain the tools to make networking an art … not an accident!

If you are a member of the CFO–Career–Forum, log in and register. If you are not a member of the CFO–Career–Forum but want to join the call? Register here! The call will be recorded so you can listen at your convenience, but you must register in advance.

A Business Plan for Your Career

It was a very interesting discussion in the CFO–Career–Forum yesterday. Recruiter Tim Norstrem and I were discussing the merits of having a career management plan … a business plan for your career.

Tim suggested that your plan should include

––a clear vision of your industry / discipline,
––an “admission” of your strengths (interesting word choice and great insight in the follow up discussion),
––your unique basket of skills (i.e., personal brand),
––a solid networking strategy, and
––a compelling value proposition and the ability to articulate it.

According to the 2007 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report,

––Executives stayed 2.7 years in a single job, 3.3 years with a company, and 4.2 years in the same industry.

––Corporate HR professionals identify 14 months as a critical point of demarcation for the newly–hired executive where the excitement wanes and dissatisfaction creeps in – and 35% see the disengagement occur in fewer than 10 months.

If an executive is unhappy in his new position in a year or less, chances are good he probably didn’t have a very good plan or more likely, any plan in place. While the unexpected can happen in a new position that can lead to early dissatisfaction, clearly this is not a welcomed trend. It seems to me that having a career plan in place would ensure that the next move was well–researched, well–thought out, and designed to help him achieve his longer–term goal.

Additionally, the average executive job search is 21.6 weeks. What Tim said to me after the call was significant … having a solid career management plan can reduce an executive’s time on the market to zero days.

If you know you are going to be moving every 3–5 years, doesn’t it make sense to be prepared to make that move? Imagine never having to conduct a job search again, and all because you chose to run your career like you run your company.

HOG-TIED

I was reading a great article entitled “Defending the Rolodex” this morning published in FierceFinance. While the article is about the defection (or not) of an institution’s client base when an executive leaves for a new position, it got me thinking about the reverse side of the desk.

As a senior executive, do you really want to be hog–tied when you are forced, pressured, or persuaded to prematurely leave an organization? Or, would it make more sense for you to plan your next move and work your plan? Know what your next target is, the companies on your hot list, and when it is strategic for you to make the move versus being at the whim of the company, economy, or industry?

Companies run on a three to five–year plan – so should your career. You can continue to give away control of your career – what you do and where and when you do it … or you can take back control by getting in the driver’s seat.

If you are so busy working in your job that you don’t have time to work on your career, you will forever be positioned – at some point – as a job hunter. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of complacency because you’ve landed in a new position … CFO longevity is only 18 months to 2 or 3 years.  Shift the job search paradigm by moving into the driver’s seat and taking control of your career.

How? Recruiter Tim Norstrem and I will be discussing why you should manage your career like you manage your business on Tuesday, May 15 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time as part of the CFO–Career–Forum’s monthly Conversations with the Experts. You can join us.