Category Archives: Blog

Maximizing the connections we make: easier than you might think

It started early, as all mornings seem to. Like me, many folks woke up wanting to roll over and get in another 30 minutes of much-needed sleep. Why not? There’s going to be another CRN meeting in two weeks…and who’s really going to miss me anyway?

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before my sense of responsibility took over.  Showered, shaved, coffee in hand, I left home and headed south for Tigard.

A few short minutes down I-5, and I was sitting in the conference room at the University of Phoenix with other like-minded folks. Whatever our reasons for being there, all of us were looking to make connections. We wanted to help others and maybe, just maybe, be assisted ourselves…because we know CRN is based on the premise that we’re all in this together. Yeah, it starts early, but it’s a great way to meet new people, see old friends, and share information.

Our speaker was Ely Delaney of Your Marketing University. A former roadie for Rush (“Yes, I’ve sweated on Geddy Lee.”), Ely has successfully transitioned to being a Marketing Strategy Architect/Trainer/Professional Speaker. That’s a lot of words to describe someone whose mission is to help people connect more effectively. His topic was “Follow-up Fanatic: Turning those casual connections into new clients and/or careers.”

Turns out that most people give up far too soon. People often aren’t ready to buy (or hire) until between the 6th and 12th connections. Most of us give up by the third.  Ely shared with us his secrets for successful follow-up and building relationships. It’s important to develop a follow-up system to maximize those connections, because people buy from people they know, like, and trust.

I know; radical, eh? Still, how many of us can say we really, truly, and effectively follow up on the connections we make? How many times do we meet someone, say we should get together for coffee, and then….

You know who you are…because we’ve all done it.

If you attended the most recent CRN meeting, you’d have learned Ely’s method for turning casual contacts into something much more. It’s pretty simple and surprisingly effective.

Speakers like Ely Delaney are part of what makes CRN such an amazing resource. It’s about networking, career improvement, and career advancement…and CRN provides a venue to make all those things happen. Who knows what (or whom) you might find at a meeting?

You’ll want to join us on Wednesday, September 10th, when the topic will be “Knowing Your Talents and Applying Them” with guest speaker Ralph (“Skip”) Centioli. Anyone in career transition understands that this isn’t your father’s job search. The game’s changed, the rules are constantly in flux, and the challenge lies in finding ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. We’ll be talking about how you can do exactly that.

Remember that you can follow CRN on social media. This lets you be part of an ongoing conversation with people in career transition- people like yourself. You’ll also have access to great content and links you won’t find anywhere else…and it won’t cost you a dime.

– LinkedIn: CRN Global
– Facebook: CRN Global
– Twitter: @crnglobal
– Google+: CRN

I’ll see you on Wednesday; I’ll be the one earnestly typing on my MacBook. Trust me, I’m taking notes, not checking Facebook or my email.  Really.

Recap of Wednesday’s CRN meeting

Wednesday morning found me at another CRN meeting at the University of Phoenix in Tigard. Why would I drive clear across town during rush hour? Along with more than 20 other professionals, I was there to experience what CRN has represented for more than three years:

– Empowering
– Networking
– Relationships

Almost 80% jobs are found through networking, so it made sense to drag myself out of bed on a grey early summer morning. Like those who shared the morning with me, I’m looking for my next opportunity. I may not know where or what it is just yet, but CRN is a pretty good place to start.

Doug Goodrum began the meeting by telling a story to illustrate how different a career search can be these days- “it’s madness out there.” He’d received a call from a company regarding someone who had listed Doug as a reference. The conversation began with questions that were…different, to say the least:

1. Is there any reason to believe this person is a threat to anyone in the workplace?
2. Is there any reason to believe this person is dishonest?

Wow, so much for assuming the best in people, eh? Things are different, which is why it’s more important than ever to develop and maintain a strong network. Even when find a new opportunity, you never know when you might be looking again. That’s why CRN can be such a great resource. Not only can you commiserate with others in similar circumstances, you can help others and be helped in return.

In times like these, it helps to be open to unconventional methods. Doug shared four out-of-the-box strategies that could help you get noticed:

1. Cold calling. No one likes it, but sometimes showing up unannounced at a company’s office is a great way to demonstrate initiative and commitment.
2. Directly email decision makers. If you can’t meet someone in person, an email can show your interest and enthusiasm.
3. Participate in a sport popular in the industry your targeting. Sometimes the best way to make contacts is by playing hard with people who work hard.
4. [There really are four strategies…and if you’d been at Wednesday’s CRN meeting, you would have heard all four.]

Wednesday’s speaker was Marsha Warner, SPHR, whose topic was “Creating an Intentional Career Brand.” We often think of brands as something marketers ponder when they’re trying to promote a product, but the truth is that each of us are a brand. A brand is your reputation, what people think of when they think about you…and there’s no better time than now to begin thinking about your brand. Is it what you want it to be? Is it consistent? Are you representing your brand with clarity and intention? Is it genuine? In short, what do you want to be known for…and do you present yourself and your brand in a way consistent with that desire?

The bottom line is that we’re our own cheerleader and best career booster. If you don’t radiate pride in your brand, if you don’t present yourself as awesome, capable, and unique, who will? A career search is often humbling and frustrating, and it can be tough to stand up and represent your brand with enthusiasm. Sometimes it helps to remember that your brand is your reputation. Represent that brand well and it will pay off…maybe not today or even tomorrow, but it will pay off.

When you find yourself in need of support, remember that CRN meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Support, networking, and career development is what it’s all about.

Join us on June 25th, when Adrian Wild will speak on “Career Growth and Transition.” You’ll learn something new, and you might just meet someone who knows someone who can help you. Even better, you might have a contact that could help someone looking for his or her next opportunity.

I’ll see you at the next CRN meeting!

Recapping the 4.23.14 CRN Meeting

Wednesday, April 23rd, dawned dreary, cold, and damp- a typical Portland mid-January day…except that the calendar said April 23rd. The weather could easily have generated several understandable reasons to stay in bed. Despite that, a group of highly motivated career seekers made their way to Wednesday’s CRN meeting at the University of Phoenix.

Doug was his usual way-too-energetic-so-early-in-the-morning highly caffeinated self. In addition to making those in attendance wonder if it might be time for him to stick to decaf, he came bearing exciting news. CRN’s continuing to grow, and in our never-ending quest for total world domination, we’ve made the leap into social media:

– Twitter: @crnglobal
– Facebook: CRN Global
– LinkedIn: Career Resources Network (CRN) … group

The CRN leadership committee’s continuing efforts revolve around the desire to create meaningful programs and products to assist those seeking new careers (or those seeking to improve theirs). That desire derives from the knowledge that 80% of career advancement comes through networking. With that in mind, we’re working to put programs in place to help career seekers maximize networking opportunities. More information will be forthcoming as things develop, so stay tuned!

Our guest speaker was Dr. Ron Ennis, whose topic was “The Three Critical Elements of a New Career Search.” If you’d been there, you’d know what those three critical elements are!

Dr. Ennis’ presentation focused on the need to look inward, to get to know ourselves and then use that self-awareness to understand what we truly want from our career. We all have something that feeds us- a passion that, if we could make a career of it, would add meaning and fulfillment to our lives. The challenge is to know oneself well enough to recognize that passion and then develop a plan to make it happen.

I’ll leave you with a few simple tips on networking. Even though networking is something many find stressful (I still do, but I’m slowly becoming more confident), having a plan can help reduce that stress. When you walk into a room at your next networking event, try to keep these simple steps in mind (courtesy of Adam LoDolce, founder of SexyConfidence.com and GoTalkToHer.com):

1. Know how to break the ice. Have a strategy for making small talk.
2. As with many activities, a good warm-up will help you find your rhythm. If there’s someone you’d really like to talk to, try speaking with a few other people first. Once you’re comfortable and confident, move on to your “target.”
3. There really are five tips…and if you came to a CRN meeting, you’d get all five…and much more! Why not come to a meeting and see what you’ve been missing?

Join us Wednesday morning, May 14th, when Bruce Hazen, President for Life at Three Questions Consulting, will be our guest speaker. His topic will be “The New Physics of Career Management.”

Looking for a new career today requires a different strategy, a new approach, or, as Bruce puts it, “a bigger theory of the game.” If you attend the next CRN meeting, you’ll leave with some new ideas that may help jump-start your search.

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, May 14th. Doors open at 7:15 a.m. for networking, with the program set to start at 7:50. Bring some business cards, a smile, and the desire to meet new people. You might find yourself taking that first step towards reaching your dreams.

An introduction to networking from an introvert’s perspective (By Jack Cluth)

I arrived at my first CRN meeting and immediately noticed people all around me eagerly engaged in small talk. Not a single familiar face was to be found. I scanned the room, convinced I was the only one feeling alone and exposed. It took every ounce of strength I possessed at that moment to refrain from turning on my heels and leaving.

That’s how my first networking event began, and because of that there almost wasn’t a second. But there I was, trying not to look like a wallflower even though it felt as if “WALLFLOWER!!” was stamped on my forehead in indelible fluorescent ink. Combine that with my usual lack of confidence when it comes to attending networking events, and I was WAY outside my comfort zone.

I did the only thing I could: I scanned the room, took a deep breath, and said hello to a complete stranger. And I tried to act as if it was the most natural thing in the world…even though I’m the owner of the world’s worst poker face.

If you knew me, you’d know how incredibly difficult it was to take that first step. I’m a proud, committed introvert who’s devoted his life to disproving John Donne’s conviction that “no man is an island.” You want me to walk into a room and confidently speak with people I don’t know? I’d sooner try to out-swim a herd of bloodthirsty sharks while wearing concrete swim fins.

I found a way to take that first step into the void. As with many things in life, the first step is the hardest. Once I got past that, it gradually became easier. It might not ever be “easy,” but I forced myself into motion and momentum took over.

Once I took that step, I learned something that’s made networking less stressful. Few people truly feel comfortable while networking. I may never feel completely at ease and thoroughly enjoy networking- at least not in the way I enjoy sitting in a 100-level seat at a Trail Blazers game. It is becoming easier, though. I’m learning how to make small talk (which I’ve never liked), and developing that skill has lead to some very interesting conversations. Who knows where that might lead? I might even surprise myself and find a useful contact or two.

 

Here’s a couple tips if you’re thinking about coming to a CRN meeting:

  1.         Networking is like any other learned skill: the more you do it, the better you become. Just Do It!
  2.         The key to overcoming fear is to face what frightens you…and then do it.

 

I know that networking will probably always be stressful for me…but guess what? I’m not alone. I’ve learned that networking challenges most people, and there’s strength to be found in shared suffering. It takes courage to walk into a room and try to strike up conversations with people you’ve never met. I find it comforting to know I’m not alone in that fear. If nothing else works, I can always talk to someone about how nervous I’m feeling. I’ve lost track of how many conversations I’ve started that way, and the odds are good that the response I’ll get is, “Me too.”

I’ve done enough networking to understand that most of my fears have proven to be unfounded. Turns out that when people meet me, they like me. Go figure, eh? You’d think that wouldn’t surprise me, but it invariably does. People enjoy speaking with me. Who could have foreseen that??

Networking has turned out to be one of the best things this committed introvert has forced himself to do. I’ve made a few friends (something that’s never been easy), and I’ve helped a few people even as others have helped me. I’ve learned that networking means meeting people who legitimately want to help others, even as they’re searching for their next opportunity. I’m becoming more comfortable with allowing others to assist me, and I’ve found it to be rewarding to give AND receive.

No one will ever accuse me of being an extrovert, comfortable with glad-handing and making small talk with strangers. A very wise man once told me that it helped him to look at a room full of unfamiliar faces not as strangers but as potential friends. I’ve found that bit of wisdom to be invaluable.

I’m getting better at networking, and I know that in the long run it’s good for me to force myself out of my shell. Who knows? Maybe it will even help me get to where I want to be.

 

What you missed if you weren’t at this week’s CRN meeting

This week’s Career Resources Network meeting spotlighted the work the CRN leadership team is doing to expand the services and products available to assist those in career transition or looking for career improvement. If you missed the meeting, you missed hearing about some new and exciting things.

Some of the programs in various stages of development include a recruiter database, a veteran’s assistance program, and CRN Boot Camp for Professionals- with more career-boosting workshops to come. Stay tuned…or, better yet, come to the next CRN meeting!

CRN now has Facebook and Twitter accounts. We’re still feeling our way, but we hope social media will become a valuable tool to help spread the word and attract more people.

There’s also a CRN blog (which you’re reading now). We’ll be using this platform for announcements and to discuss and expand on ideas and programs. Ideas for blog topics are ALWAYS appreciated, BTW.

Balki Kodarapu unveiled a new Internet-based tool called “CRN ActionPath,” available exclusively to Career Resources Network attendees. CRN ActionPath is designed to pinpoint companies that might fit your unique interests and/or skill set. Balki and his business partner continue to collect more information on local companies, and CRN ActionPath looks as if will develop into and exciting and valuable tool.

This week’s guest speaker was Jerry Vieira, CMC. The President and Founder of the QMP Group, Inc., Jerry’s of one Portland’s premier marketing consultants. His topic was “Consulting: Is It Right For You?” If you’re experienced in your field, you may have wondered if your knowledge and seasoning might translate to a consulting career. Knowledge, experience, and passion are the minimum requirements, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. If you’d been at the meeting, you’d have left with a better sense of whether consulting is the right path for you.

After the traditional post-meeting networking, Martin Espinoza, President of My Support, offered a short presentation on resumes. If you’re like me, you had NO idea how much you’d done wrong in putting together your resume. I’m rather embarrassed, but since I was at the meeting, I learned a few things that will help me to present myself more effectively. The most important lesson was that a resume is a living, breathing document (figuratively speaking) in need of constant care and attention. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that will work regardless of the opportunity you’re seeking.

Who knew that creatively using whitespace might allow you to get the best of a resume scanner??

Thanks to the folks at University of Phoenix for graciously hosting CRN. Their support is invaluable, and we look forward to continuing what we hope will be a long and mutually productive partnership.

Want to know more? Come to the next CRN meeting on Wednesday, March 12th! Doors open at 7:15 a.m. The guest speaker’s topic will be, “Who are you, and what would be…An Awesome Fit.” Jennie Mitchell Bremer, an Executive Coach and Leadership Trainer, will share interactively about the importance of understanding your core values, strengths, and what you’ll need to overcome prior to embarking on new ventures. This training will help you find the opportunity that’s right for you and provide clarity in your interactions during the career exploration and development process.

Bring a smile, your elevator pitch, and some business cards. You might just meet someone who can help you…or that you’ll be able help. You’ll no doubt leave wondering, as most of us do, how Doug can be so chipper and energetic at such a ridiculously early hour.