How Should You Respond?
During a recent coaching session with a CEO who is in an active job search, I detected frustration about his difficulty contacting people with whom he really wanted to network. Communications are always important, but particularly critical when conducting a job search. Networking occurs only when the person you are reaching out to responds. Sometimes they don’t. Even when you are more than just a “cold call” you may not get through. This can be frustrating, particularly when you have been referred by someone who knows them personally, or you have “known them” in a prior position.
Think about this in terms of my 90% rule. What’s in it for them? Your 90% is that you want to talk with them…to get suggestions or referrals…to get them to help you in your search. What’s in it for them? Why should they take time from an extremely hectic schedule to talk with you? Even though people generally want to be helpful, they usually don’t have a great deal of available time. Talking with you could be low on their priority list. Is there anything you can do to put it in their 90%? What can you offer to make it important that they talk with you?
Continue with multiple attempts to contact the individuals; however, at some point in time, if you still aren’t getting responses, what should you do? How do you make someone put you higher on their priority list?
In simplest terms, you can’t.
You can create the opportunity for the contact. You can repeat that in different ways (telephone, email, letters), but it is important to recognize that you cannot control their responses. An associate related to me several years ago about someone that had attempted to call him several times in one week, and also sent a number of emails. His comments were “did he think I was not receiving the calls or his emails? I had other things on my mind at that time and chose to ignore him.”
What type of impression do you think the person who made the repeated calls left? Was it what they intended? Is it possible they appeared desperate?
Over the years I have realized how important it is to recognize what is in my control. The corollary is that if it is not in my control, I cannot make it happen.
A good practice is to identify what is in your control in any situation. Do those things to the best of your ability. And those that are not? Realize they will happen “on their own” – or on “someone else’s time frame” – or they won’t happen at all. Don’t leave a negative impression by attempting to force a situation that you do not have control over.
Expect people to respond when they are prepared to do so. If you are in an active job search, this means you have to create opportunities to talk with more people, rather than focusing on fewer and being determined to “make it happen” with them.
Always remain professional, no matter how you view the lack of the other person’s response. It will pay off in the long term.
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