Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: networking

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

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 (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

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.

How to Get a Recruiter’s Attention for the First Time

The Secret to Getting a Recruiter's Attention for the First TimeContract positions are very different from the typical full-time employee position. Not only are they obviously a shorter term, meaning you search for work more frequently, but the turnaround time to fill a particular role tends to be much shorter, sometimes a matter of hours. This makes the power of a relationship with a recruiter absolutely crucial. A solid relationship means that as one contract is coming to an end, somebody is already helping you find your next one. When an opportunity arises that needs to be filled tomorrow, somebody is calling you before you even had a chance to turn on your computer and visit a job board.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that recruiters work on filling multiple roles and come across dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes on any given day. This means that getting a foot in the door to start that relationship with a recruiter can prove challenging to an independent contractor, especially those who are new to the market. To help with this tough scenario, we surveyed Eagle’s recruitment team to find out the best ways to grab their attention and here’s what we learned:

Contact Them Directly!

All of Eagle’s recruiters agree: the most effective way to connect with them for the first time is some sort of direct communication. While starting the conversation at a networking event or applying to their jobs may be a good start, they won’t have as much of an impact as an email, phone call, or even a LinkedIn message.

To start, do a bit of research on the best person to speak with. Does the agency have a recruiter who specializes in your industry or skill set? Is there a recruiter with whom you already have a common connection? Once you’ve honed in on who you want to get in touch with, decide how you’ll do it. 55% of recruiters said they prefer email; however, it shouldn’t be a generic or mass email. 30% said a phone call would be most effective and the rest said they’d prefer a direct message on LinkedIn.  It’s important to note that nobody, not a single recruiter, said to come right into the office. Face-to-face meetings are invaluable for getting to know each other, but unannounced introductions can be intrusive and awkward.

Don’t Give Up

As already mentioned, recruiters are busy. Very busy. If they don’t answer the phone or if they take a while to respond to your email, don’t assume they’re not interested in building a relationship with you. Your next best option is to get yourself out there and make sure they find you when they need you. Do this by applying for their jobs and building your profile on the agency’s job board, as well as some other places across the Internet. This begs the question, where are recruiters going to look for you? We’ll cover that in a future post in the coming weeks.

How to Impress Literally Everyone You Meet (Video)

From networking events to phone interviews, we all have at least a few disaster stories of people who made terrible first impressions (maybe even you). Prevent it from happening to you (again) by checking out this video from BuzzFeed. It provides some pointers for creating great first impressions. There may even be a few that are new to you!

Reading Body Language at Networking Events

Networking events can be extremely beneficial to expanding your career and improving your business.  For many people, though, they can be equally stressful and awkward.  One reason for that is because we are going into the unknown with new people and have no idea how they’re going to react.  It’s hard to know which conversations to join, which groups to leave alone, and when somebody wants to talk more or would rather move on.

Being able to read body language and understand what people are thinking is a great way to relieve some of this stress and this video from CreativeLive provides a few great tips on doing just that.

7 Steps to Use Your Network to Get a Job

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use your network when trying to secure a new job.  The wrong way is very selfish and will probably make your network a lot smaller than get you a job.  This infographic we found on Govloop by expert career coach Heather Krasna, however, shows the right way in seven simple steps. Take a look — you’ll love the tips and details she provides.