I often equate looking for a job with searching for business customers. In the same way a business owner uses their influencing skills, a job seeker applies his or her powers of persuasion during networking, interviews and final offer negotiations.
Therefore, it is fundamental to learn and understand the key principles of influencing and to constantly hone your influencing skills throughout the entire job search process.
- During the networking stage of the process (and the interview itself, for that matter), make sure you ‘charm’ the person you have informational interviews with so that they genuinely like you and open up to you. It sounds like an easy task but in reality making somebody like you is not as simple as it sounds. It doesn’t just come down to how well-dressed you are or how well-groomed you look (although this is important as well), but also whether you like the other person yourself and how well you manage to project it. I can’t emphasise enough the power of a smile, a friendly and enthusiastic attitude when speaking to your contact at a networking event or over coffee.
- Try to uncover as many similarities as possible in order to build a bond between you and your contact. This is why it may be a good idea to meet at a coffee house (and ideally not at the person’s office) to give them a chance to relax. Try starting a conversation with some friendly chat about their hobbies, the university they went to – or anything you may have in common. And this is where prior research into your contact’s background comes in!
- During your conversation (or interview), mention any articles you may have read authored by your contact or seminars they have presented at or anything else for which you can offer them real praise. Sincere praise goes a long way to establishing a warm atmosphere and ensuring your contact is on your side.
- During your networking meetings, avoid the common pitfall of many job seekers who ask for a lot of favours but don’t offer anything in return. Cultivating a long-lasting relationship comes down to giving more than taking – as in any human relationship. Don’t forget to suggest ways you can help a person, for instance, opening up your own network to them.
- And last but not least, rely on your current network to recommend you to new contacts and whenever you meet a contact, ask them to refer you to somebody else in their department or company. Just as businesses rely on customer testimonials and recommendations, job seekers should use their current contacts’ referrals to their advantage.
I will be interested to hear your comments on other effective influencing techniques you have used in your job search process.