Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: networking

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to networking.

Become a Master Networker and Improve Your Job Search (Infographic)

Independent contractors should always be seeking their next gig, and maybe even the one after that. The more opportunities you have in the pipe, the more secure your business will be. Perhaps the best way to continuously have technology contracts flowing your way is to grow your network as much as possible.

Networking, though, isn’t something that comes easily for most people. In fact, it can be downright awkward until you have enough practice and experience with it. If you’re serious about improving your job search and want to become a master networker, look no further than this infographic from Business Insider.

Become a Master Networker and Improve Your Job Search (Infographic)

The Most Loved (and most hated) Contractor Traits, According to Recruiters

The Most Loved (and most hated) Contractor Traits, According to RecruitersAt the start of the year, we surveyed Eagle’s recruiters to find out how their favourite, top-of-mind candidates earn that special spot, and shared the results with you, as well as some data on the importance of having that status and how you can get into the bad books as well. Today, we want to share some quotes directly from Eagle’s recruiters about both their favourite contractors and those that make them cringe.

Here’s what recruiters said were the traits of their favourite candidates:

  • Treats me as respectfully as they would a potential client, as I endeavor to do the same.
  • Is focused on the type of role they’re interested in finding – has worked in that sector before and is confident about sharing the results of previous projects/engagements they’ve successfully delivered.
  • Strong skill set specialized in one or two areas.
  • Professional, positive attitude, articulate, and honest.
  • Keeps in touch without being pushy.
  • Receptive when called by recruiter.
  • Like with anything, if the candidate puts the investment and makes the effort in maintaining the relationship and is honest with me, I do remember them.
  • Warm, personable, friendly, engaging.
  • Great communication skills, polite, knowledgeable.
  • Easy to get along with, cooperative, and has done a great job on a client site.
  • They are responsive and they work collaboratively with us to be successful.

And, the candidates who make them cringe have this in common…

  • An over-confident attitude can sometimes also come across as being arrogant – which would make me think twice before calling the candidate on a potential project.
  • When you review a candidate’s new resume and then one of their old resumes and notice that dates and experiences have changed dramatically.
  • Slow response in getting back to you.
  • No focus to what they’re best at/what they want to do. (If you don’t know what you want, I can’t find it for you).
  • Unable to speak in-depth about past projects/skills/results/experience. If you can’t explain it to me, you cannot explain it to a potential employer.
  • Monopolizing an interview.
  • When a candidate thinks he/she is a fit for everything and anything on the job board (“I can learn on the job”, “give me a few weeks to ramp up”, “can we throw my name over to see what they say?”)
  • Unrealistic negotiations or rate negotiation after receiving the offer.
  • Apathetic, no eye contact, and shabby dresser.
  • Strong odor.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favourite and most hated traits of recruiters? How can they become your go-to person or how can their emails automatically be filtered to junk? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below.

3 Tools That Will Make You the Most Informed Contractor in Your Network

Having the right knowledge and information is a massive competitive advantage in the IT contracting market. The more up-to-date you are on client news, industry trends, and opportunities, the easier it is to find work and keep a steady flow of contracts. Unfortunately, there is no magical place you can go to that has all of that customized and readily available for you each morning… or is there? No, there isn’t.  At least not without a bit of work up-front.

What do you want to know?

The quest for being well informed begins with knowing what it is you want to be informed about. Take some time to plan out every source from which you want frequent updates. Consider your top clients or companies with whom you want to work, your top staffing agencies, some other job boards that have brought you success, and news websites or blogs that provide information on the latest trends in your trade. Now you have a list, albeit long, it’s a list. Your next step is to find a tool that will aggregate and organize all of the information for you.

LinkedIn

LinkedInThe simplest tool is probably LinkedIn because most contractors are already there. Go through your target client list, company-by-company, search out their page, and follow them. Now, updates from that company will appear on your newsfeed whenever you log in. As long as you’re in the habit of checking regularly (LinkedIn’s mobile app makes it very easy), you should be fairly up-to-date on your favourite companies.

Unfortunately with LinkedIn, “fairly up-to-date” is the best you can hope for. If you manage to find all of the LinkedIn pages for your favourite companies, you’ll also find that some don’t post updates. For those who are active, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re not posting all news and opportunities – they don’t want to spam their newsfeeds.

Speaking of newsfeeds, just because you follow somebody, it doesn’t mean their updates will appear in your feed. LinkedIn can’t show you everything, so it automatically filters posts based on what it thinks is more relevant to you.

Twitter

Twitter is the other social network where you’ll have good results with company updates. As with LinkedIn, there’s no guarantee that everybody has a Twitter account and, if they do, there is no guarantee that they’re active. The biggest differentiator between Twitter and LinkedIn is the posting etiquette. Where most pages on the professional social network only post a maximum of two to three times a day, Twitter profiles are more open, sometimes posting over twenty times per day. And Twitter feeds include all posts.

Many companies have a Twitter account dedicated to posting everything they publish — every article, every job opportunity, and all company news. Twitter is fantastic if you want instantaneous news, but it’s overwhelming, which is why lists are mandatory if you want to be organized. Twitter Lists allow you add certain profiles into a group, for example “IT Contract Opportunities.” Then, when you’re interested in learning more about that specific topic, you can view the news only in that list. We recommend using a tool such as HootSuite to manage and view your lists even more efficiently.

RSS Feeds

LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic, but they are flawed in that they require a company to continually maintain their posts. Organizations often start with good intentions of posting everything, but those posts can start to fade. That’s what makes RSS Feeds the superior method of following a company.

RSS Feeds automatically publish frequently updated information from specific web pages, such as blog entries, job boards, press releases and news headlines. RSS Feeds are a great “set it and forget it” tool, meaning once an RSS feed has been created, as long as no other back-end code changes affect it, the feed is continuously updating. (For example, you can view the RSS Feeds for the Talent Development Centre, Eagle Jobs, and Eagle’s CEO Blog)

RSS IconIt takes a little bit more work upfront, but you can take advantage of RSS Feeds by subscribing to a feed reader (ex. Digg, Feedly, or any other app that you may find). Then, visit each company’s website to search for their feed (it’s often found by clicking on an image like the one to the right) or search out the company directly from your feed reader.  Like Twitter, you can then group all of your feeds, and all of the most up-to-date information is available to you each time you open the reader. If you’re still loyal to Twitter accounts but like the idea of RSS Feeds, this site will help you turn any Twitter feed into an RSS feed.

So what are you waiting for? It may take a time commitment to set yourself up properly, and you need to set time aside to keep up with all of your new information, but it’s well worth it. You’ll know about jobs as soon as their published, client news as soon as it breaks, and hot trends before they make it to the water cooler!

LinkedIn – The Ultimate Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

Last week we shared the Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Coding. It was long, detailed, in-depth and generated some positive feedback, but not everybody needs to find the best code. Here’s another extensive cheat sheet infographic that is for everybody. It was created by leisureJobs and covers everything there is to know about LinkedIn.

Whether you want to build the perfect profile, create optimized images, gain more recommendations, learn the hidden features of LinkedIn, add SEO capabilities, enhance security, or just get started, this infographic will benefit you. A word of caution before you look at it: this may distract you for a while.
Leisurejobs.com

Leisurejobs.com

5 Reasons to Network With People Who AREN’T In Your Field (Video)

Networking is important for all independent contractors and, as such, we provide a plethora of networking tips on the Talent Development Centre.  Just this past Tuesday, we shared a guest post from Freshbooks containing detailed networking advice for introverts.

Many of our past tips suggest finding groups related to your expertise and forming a circle with like-minded people. This is terrific advice but you should keep in mind that you will also benefit by networking with those who are not in your field. Have a look at this video from CareerHMO for five reasons it’s a good idea and some tips for doing so.

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting Candidate

How to Become a Top-of-Mind IT Contracting CandidateA few weeks ago, we kicked off a series of posts about “top-of-mind” candidates and how you can become the preferred IT contractor for a recruiter, ensuring you’re one of the first people they call as soon as an opportunity arises.  In that post, we discussed the importance of being in this group and how first impressions play a big role in getting there. In this post, we’ll go into the specifics of how to become a top-of-mind candidate.

It could easily be expected that having many in-demand skills is all that’s needed to become a top contractor. After all, if you can do the work better than anyone else, why shouldn’t you be the first phone call? This is a factor for Eagle recruiters along with your references from past contracts, your ability to be personable, your communication skills, and your rate expectations. It may surprise you, though, that only 12% of recruiters said that your in-demand skills are the top trait that makes you memorable.

Being personable will be your biggest advantage with a recruiter and if they had to choose one trait that makes you most memorable, it would be how well you interact with others. Recruiters consider every communication with you, from phone calls to interviews to networking events, and use that experience to conclude if you’ll work well on a client’s team.  When a recruiter has a great conversation with you, learns a lot, and feels comfortable around you, they’re more likely to remember you when a suitable role presents itself. Vice-versa, when you come off as rude, stand-offish, or unwilling to open up about your experience, they’ll remember that too!

The second most memorable trait for Eagle’s recruiters is how well you have worked with them on past contracts. This is obviously more of a long-term element considering you first need to win and complete a contract, but it’s a crucial point nonetheless. When a recruiter enjoys working with you and a client raves about your fantastic work, you pretty much guarantee yourself a spot as a top-of-mind candidate. It can even be argued that being personable, the most memorable trait, goes hand-in-hand and is a pre-requisite to earning positive feedback about your work.

The final conclusion we drew about how to become top-of-mind is that LinkedIn cannot be just an option anymore. Not only did 80% of recruiters say that having a LinkedIn profile increases your chances of becoming top-of-mind, but almost ¾ of them say that most or all of their top-of-mind candidates are active on LinkedIn. That means that if you want to be competitive, you should create your profile and be an active member of the community. In a Quick Poll of our readers from last November, we learned that almost all contractors have a professional picture and keep their profile up-to-date, but few take the time to share articles, participate in group discussion, or make recommendations. That presents some great opportunity for you to make yourself a more attractive option to recruiters! For some extra tips on improving your LinkedIn activity, have a look at any of these past posts.

With every list of what to do well, there has to be a list of what not to do. Keep posted to the Talent Development Centre in the coming weeks and we’ll share some faux-pas, as well as some tips that will help you redeem yourself. If you have any more questions or comments about how to become top-of-mind, we’d love to hear them. Please leave them below.

The Introvert’s Guide to Local Business Networking

This post by Chelsei Henderson first appeared on the Freshbooks Blog, January 12th, 2016

The Introvert’s Guide to Local Business NetworkingThe core difference between introverts and extroverts is the source of their energy. Introverts gather energy from their internal self, while extroverts gain energy from the external world around them.

When it comes to networking, one saying defines it best: Extroverts get energized by networking, while introverts become drained from the event.

But that doesn’t mean introverts can’t be great networkers. They can learn how to maintain their internal energy while meeting interesting new people who will help grow their freelance careers.

The hard fact of business is that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Networking is the act of getting to know more people with the goal of growing your career. It’s something that all freelancers need to learn, introverted and extroverted alike.

I’m about to break down exactly how introverts can become networking rock stars. By the end, you’ll be fully prepared to take on the world, or at least totally crush that next networking event.

Everyone Gets Nervous in the Beginning

Even the most extroverted people in the world are nervous when they first started out networking. Understanding that your nervousness is normal will actually help minimize it.

Consider that almost everyone else at the networking event will be nervous – even long time pros.

If you want to help calm your nerves, LinkedIn published an excellent guide for overcoming nervousness when attending networking events. I particularly enjoy their tip to arrive early before large groups form, as joining a group conversation can be nerve-wracking for new networkers.

Start With Small, Attainable Goals

Don’t go to your first networking event with the hopes of landing your dream client, or multiple dream clients. Or even a single client.

Instead, create smaller, more attainable goals. The main purpose of networking is to exchange contact information with people.

Decide the type of contact information you want, and try to get X amount of contacts. You may prefer email, Skype ID, phone numbers or social media links. Pick one, and try to find people you connect with.

Present Your Authentic Self

Presenting your authentic self is a phrase entirely too overused and too misunderstood. Discovering your authentic self, much less learning how to present it, is something that takes most people consistent effort.

In the professional world, most people present their “invented” self. This is a persona designed to be non-confrontational and friendly. Introverts are guilty of doing this regularly, as being agreeable is easier.

Yet, to truly enjoy networking events, you need to be yourself. Trying to maintain an invented self throughout the event will make it more draining than it needs to be.

Plus, if people get to know an invented self that doesn’t correspond with who you really are, that will become obvious if a professional relationship does form.

Find and Bond With the Other Introverts

There will absolutely be other introverts who forced themselves to attend the event. They’ll be experiencing much of the same nervousness and apprehension as you.

Introverts at networking events can unite and enjoy the same benefits as their extroverted counterparts.

Approach people standing by themselves, staring endlessly on their phone or otherwise looking nervous and introduce yourself. All you have to say is “hello,” followed by your name, and then ask their name. Couple that little introduction with a smile, and you’re golden. The right people will respond positively and a conversation will begin.

If you’re in the same industry and might be able to work together, great. If not, then you can buddy up and move around the event together.

Be Attentive to Your Body Language

Body language is always important.

While different sources argue about what percentage of communication is nonverbal, they all agree that it’s most of it. You might say all the right things, but if your body language is wrong, it’ll come off the wrong way. This may result in you missing out on a great connection.

Body language is an all-encompassing term that includes:

  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Posture
  • Tone and voice
  • Touch
  • Space

While you can learn all about the different types of body language, it’s almost impossible to fake. This further emphasizes the importance of being your authentic self – it’ll shine through anyway!

Being attentive to your body language, however, doesn’t mean faking it. It means checking in with your body and making sure it’s sending the right message. Even if all you do is stay aware of eye contact and open arms (not crossed), that will help ensure you’re sending the right messages.

Don’t Forget About Online Networking

Online networking may have been the best thing to ever happen to professional introverts. Now, you’re able to showcase your knowledge and meet new people all on your terms and from the comfort of your home.

Online networking still requires a certain skillset, however. You don’t want to make some of these vital mistakes of LinkedIn, the best network for professional connections, such as having a bad photo or not taking advantage of your 2,000 character summary.

The real power of online networking for introverts is showcasing your knowledge and the value you can bring to the table. LinkedIn and Google+ (which is actually great for networking) both allow for long-form posts. Do you have something to say that others in your industry will appreciate? Type it up!

Then, let people know about it. All you need to do is message connections and say, “hey, I just posted something I think you’ll be interested in. Check it out!”

Introverts Can Become Master Networkers

Introverts are underestimated in the business world. Often viewed as excellent employees, but not entrepreneurs, there’s a certain stigma that goes along with being an introvert.

You can use this underestimation to your advantage.

Attend networking events, and showcase your quiet brilliance. A friend once told me, in reference to college guys, “the loudest is the weakest.” If you take that as truth, then the quietest is the strongest – as long as they speak up at the right moment.

Are you an introvert? If so, how did you become skilled at networking? Have you had any experiences with the above guide?

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a post originally published by Justine Smith on the FreshBooks Blog August 19, 2015

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 2)Imagine waking up one morning, checking your email and finding several new leads from interested prospects. Now, imagine experiencing that every morning.

How can this happen? Through the power of professional networking.

When you take the time to build a strong network, that investment will bring results. People start seeing you as an expert and will come to you for services, whether you’re a writer, designer or massage therapist.

But this only happens through successful networking. A strong strategy is a must for keeping you and your business top-of-mind when new opportunities arise.

In the article below, you’ll find a few no-hassle, professional networking tips for freelancers. Use them to build your network, acquire new business and establish yourself as the go-to authority. Let’s dive in…

Craft a Comprehensive Marketing Toolkit

This toolkit will serve as your go-to resource when you land new leads during networking events. It’s essentially a pre-packaged form of sales collateral. Keep some copies in the car or carry some on-hand to make sure you never find yourself without your toolkit when the moment to exchange information strikes.

Ok, so what goes in this pre-packaged marketing toolkit?

Good question. You’ll find an array of choices for printed marketing materials. Some of these include:

  • Business cards
  • Post cards
  • Flyers
  • Booklets
  • Brochures
  • Calendars
  • Greeting Cards
  • Stickers
  • Newsletters

As a freelancer, you can use one or all of these items to creatively promote your business. But for the purpose of this package, try to keep things simple.

Business Cards

This is a no-brainer. Every professional at a networking event will carry a handful of business cards. In fact, you should too, above and beyond the ones you include in your networking toolkit. Then, when someone needs your number, just hand over your business card and set up a time to chat.

But what if a prospect wants to learn more about what you offer? When this happens, it’s time to hand over a bit more information. Your business card is your foundation, but let’s add to it a bit…

Brochures

In addition to the business card, include a brochure that highlights your services, capabilities and accomplishments. If you want, you can even take things a step further by offering a simple discount within the brochure.

When creating your brochure, keep these tips in mind:

  • Write to your target audience.
  • Share benefits, not just features.
  • Get a professional design.

Remember, you want to pass out this toolkit and let it do the selling for you. Do everything possible to create good, high-quality marketing materials.

One Miscellaneous Item

Round out your marketing toolkit with one of the materials left on the list above. This is a miscellaneous item by default, because different materials will work better or worse, depending on your industry.

For example, here are a few different ways you could use this third part of the package:

  • Music Teacher: Include a flyer that features an introductory discount for new students.
  • Writer: Use a newsletter to show off your writing skills.
  • Designer: Print a cool sticker that showcases your best design capabilities.

Once you have the package completed, it’s time to get out there and start building your professional network. Don’t be afraid – everybody gets nervous about networking, but preparation is the key. When you use this system, you’ll make the entire process as “no-hassle” as possible.

Freelancing 101: Professional Networking Made Easy (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of a post originally published by Justine Smith on the FreshBooks Blog August 19, 2015

img_professional-networking-made-easyImagine waking up one morning, checking your email and finding several new leads from interested prospects. Now, imagine experiencing that every morning.

How can this happen? Through the power of professional networking.

When you take the time to build a strong network, that investment will bring results. People start seeing you as an expert and will come to you for services, whether you’re a writer, designer or massage therapist.

But this only happens through successful networking. A strong strategy is a must for keeping you and your business top-of-mind when new opportunities arise.

In the article below, you’ll find a few no-hassle, professional networking tips for freelancers. Use them to build your network, acquire new business and establish yourself as the go-to authority. Let’s dive in…

Identify Networking Opportunities

For the sake of this article, I’m going to discuss in-person networking opportunities. Generally speaking, this is where most freelancers struggle. My personal experience has taught that many (if not most) of my freelancing peers are introverts.

That makes in-person networking a bit of a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are a couple different methods I use to identify local networking events:

Meetup.com

Spending hours working alone in a home office can make it difficult to get outside and forge profitable business connections. That’s why places like Meetup.com often become an integral part of freelancers’ networking strategies.

Meetup’s website outlines their basic mission within the community, saying:

“Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.”

As a freelance professional, you’ll quickly learn (if you haven’t already) that profitable things come from strong networks. Meetup can help you build the connections that will ultimately support your business’s growth.

I’ve used these steps to find the perfect meetup groups:

  1. Look through the top level categories. Sign in and click the search bar on the home screen. It’ll pull in several basic categories (e.g. Career & Business, Fitness, Music, etc.). Choose the one relevant to your industry.
  2. Narrow down your meetups through industry-related keywords. For example, let’s say I’m looking to offer my freelance services to marketers. I’d go to the “Career & Business” category and try the following search phrases.
    1. Marketing / Marketer (i.e. my target market)
    2. SEO / Content Marketing / Adwords (i.e. services my market offers)
    3. Small Business Owner / Entrepreneur (i.e. my target market’s target market)

Those two steps should give you plenty of options for relevant meetups.

Google

If Meetup doesn’t feature many events in your area, there’s another option: Google your way into your next local networking group or event. A few simple search queries can bring up great results, especially around larger cities.

Get started with these basic searches:

  • “yourcity business networking”
  • “yourcity networking events”
  • “yourcity networking groups”

Some of these events will have their own web pages or use a platform other than Meetup.com. Another quick Google search should reveal which of these events are most relevant for you to attend.

Create a Schedule at the Beginning of the Month

Once you’ve identified ideal opportunities in your area, it’s time to set priorities. After all, you can’t spend all month networking and no time actually doing the work your clients are paying for.

At the beginning of each month, look at all the possible events you’d like to attend and create a schedule based on your expected workload.

Write it Down

Grab a pencil, open your calendar and start writing in events. Ultimately, this action requires you to make a small commitment to attend. But remember – the less hassle, the better.

Don’t try to remember all the dates or rely on weekly digests from Meetup.com. Either something will come up or the event won’t seem that important in the moment (or, worse, you’ll forget about it altogether).

As a freelancer, we have dozens of responsibilities. I can’t use up all my brain’s bandwidth trying to remember these events. So, I write it down. And I always end up feeling thankful that I did.

Go Ahead and Pay for It

If there’s a fee to attend the events you’re sure you want to participate in, go ahead and pay it. What better way is there to ensure you’ll go than to financially invest in the event? Putting money down on something creates a loss if you decide not to show up. And, I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy losing – especially when it comes to money.

Even if the event doesn’t ask for a fee, find other ways to commit financially. If you’re afraid you’ll back out, give $20 to a friend and tell them that they can only give it back after you attend the event. Get creative with it. Remember, the goal here is to make going to networking events a no-brainer.

Don’t Overbook Yourself

Don’t get too overzealous – you’ll get overwhelmed by all the events and stall out. Instead, start with no more than 1 event each week. This amount keeps it reasonable without feeling stressful or getting too expensive.

And make sure not to overbook yourself. I’ve been too overzealous about networking in the past and it can become detrimental to business. You never want to neglect your current workload or clients for new business. That kinda defeats the purpose.

Never Underestimate the Power of Face-to-Face

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Never Underestimate the Power of Face-to-FaceThe year is 2015 and we are we are moving at the speed of light, not just technology but WE are all moving at a pace never before seen in civilization.

This post is not to encourage you to “slow down”, or “stop and smell and roses”. Although that is great advice for many, that is not where this post is going.

We are constantly trying to improve efficiencies in our day.  This often involves scheduling a call instead of a meeting, or an email instead of a call.  The majority of the time this is not only necessary, but a better use of time.  It cannot, however, replace a live connection between two professionals.

There is no business that I feel this is more applicable to than recruitment and staffing.  The job of a recruiter is to find top talent and sell the skills of the identified contractor, either internally or externally to the client.  If I were to ask you to talk about someone you had met recently, and someone with whom you had a series of email exchanges, who do you feel you could describe more effectively?

The benefits of a face-to-face meeting are shared by everyone.  As briefly touched upon, if you’re a contractor, meeting with a recruiter allows them to better sell your skills and “intangibles.” It also allows you the opportunity to get to know the client, the market, and better understand what is out there for you.  Often times this valuable information is lost when exchanging emails specific to ONE opportunity.

It is important to note that because we are so busy, it is crucially important that both parties have a real benefit of the “get together”.  A good way to ensure this happens is to not only ask yourself what your objective is in the meeting, but also ask the question of the person across the table.  Then, do everything you can to have those objectives met.

Most importantly meeting someone is the foundation for a better working relationship.  A degree of partnership and trust is established.  This can go a very long way in business.  It is difficult to establish these levels of trust and partnership exclusively using phone calls and emails to communicate.

At the height of the cold war, Margaret Thatcher famously said of Mikhail Gorbechev after meeting with him in Stockholm, “I like Mr. Gorbechev, we can do business together.”  Suffice it to say, that a breakthrough of this magnitude and the forming of positive relationship builders such as “liking” the other party would not have happened with a call or written communication.  As recruiters and independent consultants, we are not responsible for world peace.  We are, however, responsible for building and nurturing business relationships that contribute to mutual success.

We are all busy; all of us as a group have NEVER been busier.  Try not to use that fact as an excuse to not build great relationships and partnerships — they are the foundation of business.