Tag Archives: recruiting

Did any of your degrees give a better ROI?



Dorothy Beach, Talent Sourcer here, still headhunting executives for Kimberly-Clark but wondering about my choices in educating myself.

There is a lot of talk about ROI for time and money in getting a college degree and maybe other degrees as well.  I think about this a lot, looking back on the three degrees that I have – BA in Education, MS in Biochemistry and an MBA.  Let me explain some of the reasons for doing three degrees first…

I went into a pre-Medical program at what is now St. Peter’s University out of high school which required a double major in biology and chemistry at that time.  By end of sophomore year I knew my grades were not good enough for medical school submission despite the lean towards encouraging women to apply.  I then switched to an Education program at what is now Rider University, taking a Comprehensive Teacher’s certificate for NJ.  However the market for teachers, nationwide was poor – and persisted for some years after I graduated.  With that reality I took my first basic science research job and loved it.  After three years of that on the academic side I thought to do my graduate degree in Biochemistry feeling it would open doors to the private sector.  Realize that this was a full time commitment with a small stipend for two solid years.  However it took five years after getting my MS to get a private sector job in pharmaceuticals with then Merrell Dow but the MS helped with getting that and certainly previous academic job experience allowed me to be successful in it.

As a scientist in the corporate world you come to realize that business knowledge can help with understanding project work and its direction.  In my forties I decided to work on an MBA to take my first courses in business.  I was with Procter & Gamble (Pharma Division) at the time and the company would pay for it as long as I pulled at least a “B” per class.  Going to school part time while working full time, I graduated in three years.  Yet the outcome at work as a basic research scientist was not going to play out.  The career path just didn’t ask for business knowledge although I could see many applications of good business process to our work at the bench and with strategy.  I switched to Product Development or applied science within the Snack Division and quickly learned my MBA was very applicable in that job.  Sadly it lasted only 2.5 years before my layoff.

From this description which degree do you think paid off in time and money?  I would rank the MS first despite the lost income for two years, because it allowed me to enter the private sector and gave me some career advancement with some application to my current job as a headhunter for engineers and scientists. The MBA comes in second since it only applied when I went into product development and sometimes in my current job as an Executive Recruiter.   The Education degree came in last simply because the market for inexperienced teachers was so bad in the 1970s.  I ranked them according to income earned, career potential and cross-knowledge transfer in the jobs I had.

What is your opinion on this – do you think degree ROI should be based on these parameters?  How can we make this process forward looking rather than backward looking?


Halyard Health hiring a Talent Acquisition Lead | GA

Halyard logo

Title:  Talent Acquisition Lead

Company: Halyard Health

Location: Alpharetta GA

Function: HR

Reports to: Director of Talent Management

Scope: Global

Halyard Health [NYSE: HYH] is a medical technology company focused on preventing infection, eliminating pain and speeding recovery for healthcare providers and their patients. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, Halyard is committed to addressing some of today’s most important healthcare needs, such as preventing healthcare-associated infections and reducing the use of narcotics while helping patients move from surgery to recovery. Halyard’s business segments — Surgical and Infection Prevention and Medical Devices — develop, manufacture and market clinically superior solutions that improve medical outcomes and business performance in more than 100 countries. For more information, visit http://www.halyardhealth.com. 


Halyard Health, formerly Kimberly-Clark Health Care, is looking for a Talent Acquisition Leader. Take advantage of this unique, once-in-a-career opportunity to design and operationalize a recruiting function from the ground up!

The Talent Acquisition Leader designs, develops and manages the talent sourcing and acquisition process across the organization. The functional scope of this role will be experienced professional hiring.

Our current recruiting process is focused on the US and Canada; however, this is a global role that will require the ability to consult, translate programs and policies to comply with local customs and legal requirements, and work across cultures to implement while sharing best practices.

Position Purpose

Build the Talent Acquisition Function

  •      Develop, in partnership with the Global Talent Management Leader and the CHRO, Halyard’s Talent Acquisition model, inclusive of determining which talent acquisition functions will be insourced vs. outsourced
  •       Develop and manage relationships with various external RPO providers, recruiting agencies, and search firms to create a seamless candidate experience
  •       Reduce Halyard’s dependence on K-C’s recruiting process, resources, and governance over time as we transition to a stand-alone function
  •      Own and Manage Halyard’s Global Experienced/Professional Recruiting Strategy & Delivery
  •       Ensure strategy, systems and tools meet the needs of Halyard’s hiring teams and job candidates (from Request to Hire to Pre-Start Onboarding)
  •       Direct talent acquisition efforts by creating and executing recruiting programs that systematically drive awareness and excitement about the company  to build short and long term recruiting pipelines
  •       Work with hiring managers to ensure the integrity of the recruiting processes including adherence to recruiting standards inclusive of background and reference checks, drug testing, salary recommendations, offer letter generation,  offer acceptance and declines
  •       Interact with recruiting outsourcing provider(s) to ensure desired goals are achieved, resolve escalated delivery issues, and adapt recruiting processes to accommodate Halyard’s evolving business needs
  •       Manage mix of sourcing channels to ensure cost effective recruitment of quality candidates as well as diverse slates of candidates(e.g. internet, retained firms, referrals, alumni, university relationships)
  •       Leverage the global employment brand and ensure contemporary practices with the use of social media, diverse sourcing channels, mobile recruiting technology, etc.
  •      Participate in the adjudication of escalated background checks and manage e-verify process
  •       Partner with both HR Business Partners and hiring managers to provide education on market data, recruitment tools, and execution of recruiting processes to help create effective sourcing strategies for open and forecasted positions
  •       Apply Continuous Improvement/LEAN methodology to all recruiting processes; escalate and partner with HR, hiring managers, third party/outsource providers, IT and others as necessary to identify root cause and resolve issues
  •       Assist in workforce planning by developing staffing strategies for current and future needs; identify sources of talent and the tools necessary to implement the plan

 Develop Metrics/Reporting

  •       Manage quarterly recruitment reporting process—compile recruiting metrics, develop written content that summarizes data trends, areas of strength, and areas needing improvement
  •       Identify and capture relevant recruitment performance metrics; analyze information to identify trends, drive change and assess progress
  •      Process ad-hoc reporting requests from business and HR teams

Interested?  Please send your resume to d.beach@accenture.com to start our process. We can then have a chat in the next few business days to discuss your fit versus your career plans.


  •       Minimum 5-8 years of experience within Talent Acquisition; experience within both a corporate recruiting function and an external consultant/RPO is preferred
  •       Experience with building or creating a new executive or corporate recruiting department
  •       Experience with and strong knowledge of state-of-the-art search and recruiting methodologies
  •       Healthcare/medical device industry experience is preferred
  •       Able to influence and interact with leaders at various levels of the organization
  •      Ability to manage spending within control limits and establish budgets that ensure effective investment allocation

Diversity at Kimberly-Clark is a serious topic


K-C Diversity

Our recruiting team has several ways to incorporate diversity candidates into our sourcing strategy.  Here is a sample of some of what this company offers – a flyer that Judie Reynolds, on our Research Team, has put together as well as resources for those readers needing to diversify their own candidate pool:

The following efforts are underway to attract diverse talent to Kimberly-Clark openings and shepherd diverse talent through the interview process:

Professional Connections on LinkedIn – Kimberly-Clark Recruiters leverage the power of connections and networking with potential candidates by actively sourcing candidates through their memberships within LinkedIn Diversity Groups such as: Network of Executive Women – Retail and CPG focus, National Society of Black Engineers, U.S. Military Veterans Network, Hispanic Professionals, Latino Execs, Georgia Tech Black Alumni Association, and more.

JMO Development Program Recruiting – Kimberly-Clark seeks to recruit and hire separating Junior Military Officer’s (JMO’s) for development into future leadership positions. The pilot program in 2012 resulted with the hiring of 7 former JMO’s of which 86% were diverse hires.  Recruitment for the next JMO class will begin in the spring 2013.

Diversity Websites – Kimberly-Clark postings are uploaded daily into CareerBuilder which are then distributed to more than 100 diversity sites. These include, but are not limited to, the following ethnic, minority, mature talent, and  LGBT sites:


Recruitment Branding – Kimberly-Clark launched a new “Recruitment Branding” campaign in November, 2012. This includes elevator language that is used within postings and candidate e-mails, as well as brochures which are sent electronically by Kimberly-Clark Recruiters. The consistent theme across all branding media invites candidates to “Unleash your Power” with a career at Kimberly-Clark.

Employee Resource Group (ERG) Initiative – During the candidate screening process, Kimberly-Clark Recruiters are informing candidates about the Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s) that have become an important  part of the of the Kimberly-Clark family. Candidates who are interviewing in Neenah are invited to meet with a representative from any of the ERG’s. The representatives spend time with the candidates speaking about growth opportunities and the inclusive culture at Kimberly-Clark. This helps to further brand Kimberly-Clark as a company committed to diversity and inclusion.

What would a retail ad look like if it was a job post?

During SourceCon in Frisco TX this past week I was thinking about what one of the speakers said about advertising for jobs.  Think of some of the components of a retail ad (generated by Marketing) for whatever product you can think of – clothes, electronics, kitchenware, bedding etc.:

  • Images that describe the product as well as the retailer
  • Some copy but not too much; most of it bulleted
  • Price
  • Value proposition – why would I buy this? and buy it now?
  • Some information on where to go to order online
  • Placement – everywhere for a limited time of maybe a week
  • Assumes that anyone can purchase their products but making the ads accessible in various channels such as TV, print, website, in-store ads, etc.

But if they followed our typical job post template what would they do?  Be mindful we are now having ads generated by HR/Recruiting:

  • They wouldn’t put an image in it but might put the company logo
  • They would put lots of copy in it and some of it in running paragraphs
  • They would add that the price is competitive and sometimes negotiable
  • They would add what it is in for for the company and rarely give an urgency message
  • Some information on where to apply online at the very bottom of the ad
  • They would still place it everywhere that accepts the job  template for a limited time of maybe 30-60 days
  • Assumes that anyone can apply to their jobs if they look hard enough on the company website and are tapped into the right channels of advertising

Does it sound like this strategy would sell a lot of product?  In fact it sounds like they don’t want to sell as much as they want to lay out their one-way terms of engagement.

WOW – we can learn a thing or two from retailers!  How could we be more like them?

  1. Include Marketing in our design of job posts
  2. Doing #1 might add more images that show links to other parts of the website – such as “What is it like to work here?” or “This what I do” or “Here is someone already in this job – what they do”
  3. Make the copy bulleted and enough to make them go tot he website for more information
  4. Give an idea of the salary range and other benefits
  5. As the Army says “We want you!” should be the effect in the post
  6. Provide a short link that goes to the job but also another link that says – just register so we can tell you when something comes up
  7. We keep our jobs up there way too long  – two weeks is enough I would think
  8. Make it easy to see and apply – SMS is a bright idea for this; using other portals expands your reach; using QR codes could make it convenient and be anywhere

His and Her Recruiting Rules?

Came across this article in the Wall Street Journal on Sept 6th about “His and Hers Shopping Rules” – gender-based selling in retail by Sanette Tanaka.  The synopsis is:

  • Retailers know that men hate to browse so they keep all products related to men in one place
  • Retailers also know that women like suggestions so they train their sales associates to offer product alternatives
  • Studies show women are more affected by personal interactions with sales associates while men are affected by pragmatic factors such as product availability and parking spaces
  • Women are more risk averse – wanting more information before the “buy” such as the ability to feel fabric, see tailoring details
  • Men want their areas clearly defined so they know where to go once in the store and hate asking questions

Big Box retailers have had great success redesigning store layouts to accommodate some of this gender research on shopping habits and practices.  So why am I telling you this?  It struck me that many recruiters out there are likely doing gender-based selling already.  It comes out of the interview process – men want the details up front and transparency tends to make their day.  Women ask the organizational questions, work-life balance and the tone of the interview affects them a little more than it does men.  Of course you already found exceptions to this – the female candidate that asks about salary first, the man who can’t travel because he has a new baby.

More to the point though is how we are Marketing our jobs and companies on a precept of “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”.  Does our press kit, website, Facebook page, LinkedIN group appeal to both? For example, for men is the information they need within two clicks?  For women is there a live chat with recruiting, a culture story, evidence of diversity and clear stories of career progression?

Should we be more mindful of sex differences in the approach of candidates searching for a job?  We talk about where the candidates are all the time as Sourcers but have we ever put that in context of gender-based selling and more importantly SHOULD WE?  Yes the compliance question rears its head – the differences are undeniable but we treat all candidates the same, market to them the same and look for them in the same ways.

‘Like to hear your comments on whether or not you tend to adjust your processes according to gender.  I bet you recruiters at least do some mirroring – adjusting to the candidate as he or she is interviewed.  But do you source them differently?  I am thinking Pinterest can help differentiate between both segments (I know that 86% of pinners are female but it keeps dropping).


The Candidate as a God

I was reading the Wall Street Journal from Sat July 21 2012 – an article caught my eye entitled “Customer as a God” which centered around the future of shopping.  Source: http://careers.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/index.aspx.  I thought it was a great glimpse into the future of recruiting.

When you consider a candidate is a product that needs a buyer when they are on the market one can envision that the same technology that allows for fulfillment of immediate product needs could also be used for finding a job.


We already have the start of this concept – SMS (Short Message Service) of jobs that open and are sent to registered candidates who may or may not be on the market.  It’s a “pull” strategy that depends  on timing.  It also doesn’t give you comparisons of other jobs available that could be at the same level and price point.  Conversely, as we see in the article, a company could shop for a candidate and compare in the same way – as to salary or price point, features (attributes such as skills), and shipping (relocation fees).  I know that sounds like it is rather inhumane but any job seeker will tell you going through an ATS isn’t a humanizing experience.  Also consider that if jobs continue the upward trend into temp/contracting and are more project based, this scenario becomes even more plausible.  We can take it further – job seekers get validation certs and “likes” or “recommendations”.   The concept might seem so remote but LinkedIn is doing that part of the profiling job seekers need already.

What do you think?  Is the analogy going too far?

Optimizing LinkedIn for Your Personal Branding

One of the outcomes of going to TalentNetLIVE! in Dallas was to hear Craig Fisher, the meeting’s organizer and LinkedIn trainer, speak about “Awsomizing Your LinkedIn Profile” based on LinkedIn research that is not generally known about.

Starting with the headline,  Craig’s advice is to to say what you do.  If filling job openings is what you do, then the word “jobs” should be in the title.  If you work for a company then mentioning that is good to from a search result perspective.

As for the photo – which you do have up right? (40% more click-throughs using a photo) – research shows that for MEN – the off-profile, non-smiling (will a smirk be OK?) head shot works best.  For WOMEN – it is the full face, smiling head shot that is most appealing.  If you have a shot with a pet, as long as you can see your face clearly, that is OK too since it is more profersonal (nod to Jason Seiden).

In the Summary section Craig feels you should have three things mentioned:

  1. Say what you do
  2. Show you’re better
  3. Be profersonal (non-business comment)
  • Provide keywords on your specialties but be mindful of your audience.  So as a person who posts jobs I added:
  • CPG jobs
  • Marketing jobs
  • Clinical jobs
  • Social media recruiting
  • Sourcer


Craig suggested searching Google Adwords keyword helper (https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__c=1000000000&__u=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEAS ) to search on most searched upon terms by your audience.  As an example. adding “job seeker” to the search bar shows that that term isn’t as popular as job, job search, job hunter, looking for work.  So his advice of having these words in your profile will allow it to come up on a search more often when job seekers are searching LinkedIn.

In your Work Experience area, Craig suggests NOT telling about your accomplishments. Adding a short story as to what you learned and found interesting about the job is more likely to get read through.  You can add one-two sentences about your duties and accomplishments.  Following Seiden’s “make your world profersonal” it allows someone reading your work experience to go beyond the most current job.

Under each job Craig said he adds a paragraph with your name, keywords that cite location, title, duties, awards, etc.

For your links, you add links right? – make the description more salsey – such as “Great jobs at Kimberly-Clark” in place of that long url.  Add your Linkedin url everywhere you can – email signature, blog, guest blog post, slides, etc. since that is a nice back link to your profile and highly indexed by Google.

If you have added an Amazon list to your profile it will tell the reader what your hobbies are, how you keep up – in short – the more personal side of you.  I’m amazed how this list has worked wonders for my profersonal branding – many reach out when I post a new book I have read.

Finally Craig feels you should spend the time to create a slideshows, that should be highly visual, of topics such as your career history, the company you work for in terms of culture, product/service line and jobs and a hobby and how you pursue it.  Post this through SlideShare application on your LinkedIn profile and it will help with your visibility on search engines.   He also mentioned visualize.me – that will do infographics for you based on your LinkedIn profile.  Very cool – these images can then be shared on Google+ and other netowrks.  You can also export it as a pdf file to add to Box.net on your LinkedIn profile.

Craig’s full presentation is on talentnetlive.com and thanks to him, we can keep our profiles fresh and up to date.

Possibilities with Pinterest for Recruiting


Have you heard of Pinterest.com?  Over the last several months the Twitter people I follow have been talking about this  new app that features an ability to make dashboards of topics of interest. As the website says:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. To get started, request an invite.

When I first noticed the topic coming up on Twitter (where I learn most everything) I thought that it would be a great tool for branding a company either for a product/service/culture as you see in this tweet:

Express your company’s #culture on #Pinterest with photos of favorites – vacation spots, styles, office supplies, etc. ow.ly/90ddh

Then this past Tuesday I saw the 1st attempt at showcasing a job post:


…and thought WOW – is this engaging or what?

Then yesterday a NYTimes article mentions Pinterest while reviewing social media skills as a necessity for some professions – like Marketing: bit.ly/Twtr-WorkNecessity .  Only six months out and Pinterest makes the NYTimes alongside  mentions of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

So here is what this makes me think.  That job post is rather complex – do you think a recruiter did this?  I am thinking some creative guy in advertising/marketing helped.   It made me think  about my ACS corporate days when we actually did have a Marketing person sitting with the recruiting team – but it was mainly for taking care of branding on websites, creating press kits for Executive search, other things that were rather static and more copyish.   I wonder if we are looking at the future of job posting…if you go to Pinterest.com and see the team “bios” they are all images.   I don’t pretend to know these Pinterest team members better by looking at their pinboards but as far as stickiness – well it takes time to figure it out.  That is a good thing for a job post or product advertisement or a news flash.

Letting you know of this because guess what?  It is an app that will show up elsewhere (or something like it) – these guys are going to be bought out or it will be copied.  In the meantime I think I will spend some time on this to figure it out and report back later…


What company is No. 9 on 2011 list of “World’s 25 Best Multinational Workplaces”?

October 28, 2011

Kimberly-Clark Ranks No. 9 on 2011 list of “World’s 25 Best Multinational Workplaces” by the Great Place to Work Institute

Recognized for best practices throughout its Latin American Operations


DALLAS (October 28, 2011) – Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB) today announced it has been ranked No. 9 on the 2011 list of the “World’s 25 Best Multinational Workplaces” by the Great Place to Work Institute. The survey included more than 350 multinational companies from 45 countries, and Kimberly-Clark placed higher than any other consumer products company on the list. The first-ever global rankings were announced October 27 at a ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange.

“Kimberly-Clark’s success is the result of the ideas, energy and dedication of our employees,” said Liz Gottung, chief human resources officer, Kimberly-Clark. “Their passion truly makes Kimberly-Clark a great place to work and inspires us to always aim higher, building on our legacy of innovation and excellence.”

The Great Place to Work Institute’s Best Multinational Workplaces List is based on the results of an international survey, which measures employees’ views on five key workplace attributes including credibility, fairness, respect, pride and camaraderie. Kimberly-Clark in particular was cited for best practices throughout its Latin American Operations to foster employee engagement and celebrate their contributions to the company’s success.

“Kimberly-Clark is honored to be ranked among the world’s best multinational workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute,” said Juan Ernesto De Bedout, group president, Latin American Operations, Kimberly-Clark International. “This award recognizes Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to unleashing the power of our people and building a winning culture that values the creativity, ideas and contributions of Kimberly-Clark employees worldwide.”

This latest recognition from the Great Place to Work Institute follows several international workplace awards received by Kimberly-Clark this year. Kimberly-Clark’s Latin American Operations was previously named the No. 1 multinational workplace among the 2011 “Best Companies to Work for in Latin America.” In addition, Kimberly-Clark was ranked one of the top “10 Best Workplaces” in France, Brazil and Bolivia by the Great Place to Work Institute, was voted No. 2 among “Best Companies to Work for in Spain” by Actualidad Economica, a leading financial magazine, and was named Italy’s “Top Employer” for 2011 by the CRF Institute.

Other companies to land in the Top 10 of Great Place to Work Institute’s 2011 “World’s 25 Best Multinational Workplaces” include McDonald’s, FedEx, Google, SAS, and Microsoft.

About Kimberly-Clark
Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries. Every day, 1.3 billion people – nearly a quarter of the world’s population – trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, HUGGIES, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company’s 139-year history of innovation, visit www.kimberly-clark.com.


For Engineers (or anyone else) Who Hate Networking

By Gary Peman – original source is http://www.hirecentrix.com/for-engineers-who-hate-networking.html

“Hello, I’m Gary Perman. I’m a headhunter; an industry insider in the fields of electric vehicles, alternative energy, and electronics. Technology companies hire me to find their next executive, manager, or engineer.”

Sometimes it seems like I hit two or three networking events a week. One might think that since I do so much networking such events would come natural to me.

Some might even think I have the “people gift.” Not so. There are times I dread going. At times I even search for ways of getting out of attending them. So even a guy who makes his living networking and matching people with people can have the networking “jitters.”

Personally I am much more comfortable behind a phone and a computer than meeting new people face-to-face. Perhaps you are more comfortable innovating new products and solving problems? Yet face-to-face networking is essential today. Networking provides opportunity for collaborations, improving relationships, building trust, growing your business, and yes, even future employment. The market has proven time and again that you can never know when you will become unemployed. The more people you know the sooner you can rebound from a layoff. Nothing can replace face-to-face interaction.

Most engineers I know share a common dislike for networking. Really though, it is not so much “dislike” as it is fear. Remember high school? Getting up the nerve to ask someone to a dance? Or standing in line during P.E. waiting to see who picks you for their team? That is the same kind of fear that many of us carry with us as we approach a networking event. Well this isn’t high school; it is real life and your career depends on networking.

I’ve read the networking books, attended workshops, and asked a lot of people who are good at networking to share their secrets. I have collected traits and practices that have made me better at networking. I still face those initial jitters during the first moments at the registration table, but now they dissipate with the first handshake. I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be a master at networking or have a “Type A” personality to succeed. All it takes is a little planning and some strategy, and after all, isn’t that what engineers do best anyway?

 Have A Plan

When I attend an event, I typically plan to meet one to three people whom I have picked out in advance. If they are not there or not available, I have a backup plan. I pick a number of new people I want to meet, usually five to ten. My goal is to ask them two questions, and swap cards with them. Once I have reached my goal, I am off the hook. I can go home, see a movie, or catch the end of the game at the bar. I have set a goal and reached it. Networking events are not a prison sentence if you don’t make them one.

Kathy Condon, author of, “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask,” has some great networking and advice on the subject. She is a consummate networker and lives by what she teaches. One of the best tips I ever learned was from her many years ago: When you first enter a room, step to the side and assess the room and the people in it. Look for the person who is standing alone. That is target number one. Most likely, that person would love to talk with someone. Personally I have met some of my best contacts that way; people who have turned out to be executives and engineering leaders. Some of them are just not very good at schmoozing, but get them one-on-one and they will talk your ears off!

It’s Not All About You

Keith Ferrazzi made this important point in his book, “Never Eat Alone.” When it comes to networking, it’s not about you. When you spend time meeting people, try and see if there is a way that you can be of help to them. Putting this priority first in your mind makes networking easier. Why? You might not be a great networker, but you are a great problem solver. If you can help someone else with an issue, solve a problem, generate an idea, or make a contact, you are working in the sweet spot of your skill set. Not only will you help someone else, but along the way good things will happen to you, too.

Ask Good Questions

Get to know people by asking good questions. Boring questions get boring answers. “What do you do?,” “Tell me about your company,” and “How long have you been with … ?” are all examples of typical openers that get typical results. They are boring and the answer usually involves the other person looking over your shoulder in hopes of finding a more interesting person to talk to. Instead, try these questions (it is okay to write them down and carry them in your pocket):

“What business problem does your company solve?” Follow up with, “How are you doing that?”

“What has been the biggest win for you (or your company) in the last six months?” Follow up with, “What do you think it will be in the next six months?”

“What is the most interesting initiative you have planned at your company this year?” Follow up with, “How will that change your company?”

“Do you know anyone who might be able to help me…?” Ask for names of people who might be able to help you find the person you are looking for, or solve a problem you are dealing with.

“My favorite approach,” says Kathy Condon, is to, “walk up to someone with your hand extended and smile and say, ‘So tell me what great thing happened to you recently?’ The key here is to really listen to the answer – then you’ll be given the information you can use to ask the next question. People love to talk about themselves — get to know the person standing before you on a personal level. Then set up a coffee date and you can talk about your work at that meeting. People hire people, collaborate with people, referral people that they know and like.” You want to ask questions that initiate a conversation out of the norm, and these questions will do that. Once they have answered your questions, there is just one more to ask; “Is there some way I can help you?”

I have a good friend who always ends every conversation with, “What can I do for you?” He is seriously asking if I might need a referral, a new contact, or a solution to a new problem. At first my response was, “Oh nothing. I’m fine,” until I wised up. Since his business takes him into contact with many companies, I started asking questions like, “Well, yes. Do you know anyone who works at XYZ company?” When I ask, I often receive a positive reply, something I appreciate and remember him for.

It’s The Little Things

It is so true in networking, business, and in life: it is the little things that people remember. After I network with someone I jot down a note on the back of their contact card. It might be something special about them, how I might help them, or what I thought of them. I use that information when I write them a follow-up email the next day. Want to make an even bigger, more positive impression? Send them a handwritten note the next day. It’s the little things that make a great impression.

Maybe they gave you a great idea or helped solve an engineering problem you were stuck on. Perhaps they provided a referral to a potential client. Thanking them goes a long way towards creating a long lasting relationship. I often meet people at networking events who are unemployed. If I can’t help them professionally, I can offer to send them a copy of, “Doug’s List,” an extensive list of networking events, groups, and job boards in the metro area. Though it costs me only a few seconds of my time, it might mean a lot to them. Those are the kind of “little things” that people will remember about you.

Exit Gracefully

Recently, I watched a real networking pro work a room. She would introduce herself, ask a question or two, and ask if she could help them. Then she would exchange contact cards with them, put out her hand to shake, and say, “It has been so nice to spend a few minutes getting to know you. I hope you have great success with your new product launch.” Then she would smile graciously and just move on. She took the initiative to introduce herself, she controlled the conversation with a few questions, and then she exited gracefully. Not monopolizing a person’s time is a very real courtesy in a networking situation.

The rhythm that she set was exactly the right tempo to accomplish what a networking event should accomplish. Finding that rhythm can be a challenge for many of us. When we find someone willing to engage in a conversation we are in our comfort zone. Being comfortable with someone feels safer than making an exit and risking finding another person to talk with, yet by using these methods, you can move from one person to another, meet a variety of people, and plant the seeds for future business relationships.

Strategy for Networking

Plan to come away from your next networking event with these three things:

Contact cards. These cards provide the contact information you need to stay in touch. The notes you made on the back of the cards will be used when you follow up with an email or a note the following day.

Names of prospective contacts. Future collaboration or future employment; you never know where these contacts might lead you.

Knowledge. Plan to leave an event with more information about your industry, competitors, and clients than when you went in.

Checklist for Networking Success

Before the event, rehearse what you are going to say; who you are, what you do, and how you solve people’s problems.

Check that you have your contact cards with you. Always. No exceptions, no excuses! Want to appear unprofessional? Show up at an event without cards.

Smile. It sounds trite, but people who are nervous or concerned often project a message that says, “Stay away.” Be conscious about your smile. It is your invitation to others to step up and say, “Hi.”

Unplug the earphone. Engage with people in the room. If you must have a phone, put it on “vibrate” and carry it out of sight. If you receive a call, excuse yourself from the conversation and step out of the room before taking it.

Be the first to introduce yourself every time. Put your hand out, smile, and follow your plan.

The next day, send a quick email to every person you have a card from. Thank them for their time and the opportunity to meet them. This pays huge dividends.

Don’t complain. Just because networking isn’t your thing, no one wants to hear about what you don’t like. You are there. Do what you came to do with a smile on your face.

Kathy Condon says, “Social media networking (Facebook, Linked-In) has to be a part of your personal and professional marketing wheel, but face-to-face networking will never be replaced.

For some people networking comes naturally, and I envy them. For others like myself, we have to work at it. Following the plan outlined above takes almost all of the stress out of networking, and I’ve even learned to enjoy it! I hope to see you at a networking event soon.


Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and a twelve-year veteran in the recruiting industry. He owns a national search firm called PermanTech, which specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers, and engineers.

PermanTech is ranked among the Top 7 Executive Recruitment Firms in Washington State by CEO Magazine. Gary is also a member of the Software Association of Oregon, IEEE, and The US Recruiters Network as well as hosts a technology blog at www.softwareassociation.org.

Contact Gary at gary@permantech.com or visit his Linked-In profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/perman or his Web site at http://www.permantech.com/