Some of the same preparation that you would put into a pending job interview applies equally to your initial communication with a potential networking contact.
Don’t “wing” it. Script your speech, but when you deliver it, make sure it sounds natural, not like a scripted presentation. Devise a set of good questions for your contact. You will want to pick his or her brains about:
• the people he or she knows who might be good indirect contacts for you, as well as determining how strong their relationship is with your immediate contact. In situations like this, people tend to overstate the quality and intimacy of their relationships;
• what he or she anticipates in terms of hiring trends in the fields in which you are interested;
• whether the contact would act as the bridge-builder for you; and
• if you were to communicate directly with your intermediary’s suggested contacts, how should you go about invoking his or her name?;
Also, anticipate–and practice your responses to–the questions your contact will likely ask you:
• Why do you want to change jobs?
• What do you want to do?
• What kind of compensation are you seeking?
• Where do you want to work?
• How can I help you?
If you run across the rare individual who does not ask you such questions, volunteer this information.
Specific matters that your contact should know about you include:
• Confidentiality, the need to be careful to protect the clandestine nature of your job search, if that is an issue for you.
• Your employment history, including: where you worked, why you made your job moves, your areas of expertise and interest, and the quality of your experience.
• Your time-frame for making this job change.
• Your ideal career/job.
• What do you want to do, and why; and where you think that could be achieved in whole or in part.
• Any geographic preferences and constraints.
• The compensation you are seeking.
• Any employer constraints, e.g, “I don’t want to work for a tobacco company.”
• Your job-hunting strategy, methodology, and activities to date, if any.
• Others in your network (be careful of how much you reveal here…your contact may get the impression that you are conducting a networking “overkill” campaign, or learn that you have also invoked the assistance of his or her worst enemy).
• Documentation, including your resume(s) and your Contacts Road Map (see the preceding blog). If you have more than one resume because you are a valid candidate for different areas of interest, leave each such resume and explain the purpose of each version.
This constitutes the verbal supplement to the Contacts Roadmap that you will leave with your networking contact.