Last week, Bob Cohen, an assistant director at the career services office at Harvard University, shared with us his best practices and tips for networking to help you find a job or make advancements in your career. In Networking For A Job (Part 1), Bob shares ideas on where to start & who to contact, to general tips to keep in mind as you branch out.
This week Bob takes it old school and shares his tips on how to network the traditional way – on the phone (and we’re not talking about texting!).
- Be as presentable over the phone as you are in person. Always identify yourself before speaking and sound enthusiastic. It’s also important to be polite and reasonable. Do not be dismissed because of arrogance.
- Know what results you’d like from the conversation. If you have a clear idea of what you want, you are less likely to be sidetracked or hang-up before you’ve accomplished your goal.
Remember… the purpose of your call is simply to set up an appointment or obtain information. The following might help you get past any obstacles in your way:
- Carefully consider what you wish to say before you make a call or, if necessary, write yourself a brief script.
- Use an affirmative and articulate manner. If you sound tentative, it’s easier for the listener to quickly dismiss your request.
- Follow up on leads as soon as possible. Opportunities have a way of disappearing very quickly.
Overcoming phone obstacles
- If the person you need to speak with is never in the office, ask when the person will return.
- If you cannot get past the secretary, call when the secretary is most likely to be out. This includes before 9:00 AM, at lunch time, or after 5:00 PM.
- If you have to leave a message, be specific about where and when you can be reached. An answering machine also helps.
If following up on a contact, here’s some responses to “May I ask why you are calling?”:
–“I’m calling in response to a letter from Mr. Smith.”
–“This is about some information I sent.”
–“We have a business matter to discuss.”
–“Chris is expecting my call.”
- Prepare a brief statement about your background that you think will be of greatest interest to the contact.
- Be very specific. “I sent my resume to you on the twelfth about my interest in [contact’s industry or profession] and I’d like to arrange an appointment with you to briefly talk about this in more detail.”
- Have some times in mind. “How is Monday or Thursday after 2:00 or Wednesday before 12:00?”
- Avoid conducting informational, referral, or job interviews over the telephone. In-person meetings are most successful because the person can get a better sense of who you are and what you have to offer.