Bringing Networking into Focus

Once he had clear goals, SalesLadder member Chris T. found his network a far more effective tool for achieving them.

When Chris T. decided to begin a job search after seven years with the same company, he assumed networking would play a role in helping to land a job.

He figured his business networking, classmates or friends would tip him off to a job and recommend him for an interview, then he would research the company and the position online to consider the job and prepare for the interview.

He had it backward.

He attended one networking event he found fruitless. He trolled the alumni database of his alma mater (Thunderbird School of Global Management of Glendale, Ariz., where he earned his MBA), but he didn’t find any leads there, either.

Chris, who was working in a sales and finance role at a company in the construction industry in the San Francisco Bay area, decided to try the autonomous route and struck out to find a job on several online job boards. In January, the SalesLadder member decided he couldn’t waste time with pointless job applications, so he selected five targetted jobs and applied; four interviewed him by phone and one, a technology company also in the Bay area, seemed more promising than the others.

Chris went back to the networking that had seemed fruitless when he was prospecting. But now that he had four target companies in mind, he was able to seek connections in his network he hadn’t tried previously. He used Thunderbird’s alumni database search to seek alumni who were connected with those companies. “Some people I knew, or have met, but a lot of people I didn’t know,” he said of the names that came up in his search.

Chris’ goal was to get a snapshot of what it would be like to work at a particular company. “I would ask them the pros and cons of working there, what they liked and didn’t like, and get some idea of the current situation at the company,” he said.

In almost every case, people were happy to speak to him. “I think it is about how you go about it,” he said. “My approach was to seek people’s insight and get information. I wasn’t asking about specific jobs, and I think that’s why people were willing to speak with me,” he said.

By March, he’d had a day of face-to-face interviews with the technology company that seemed so promising and was offered a position.

While none of his fellow alumni are among his new co-workers, “Quite a few of the people that I reached out to work or had worked at this company,” he said. “I had one person give me some inside information on the job I was interviewing for. When I got there, I had a good idea of what they were looking for. It made the interview process a lot more clear cut.”