Do you have a dead cat bounce network?

Friday, February 10th, 2012 - Networking, Social Media


Do you have a

dead cat bounce network?


Every week for the past 36 months, someone has applied for a job or we have a job seeker who needs a Professional CV, and one of their core problems that leads them to our door is the fact that they have what I now call a “dead cat bounce” network. This is what I mean:

  1. Their network was quite useful to them when employed/in the good years pre 2008. Their employment record shows high levels of achievement (most often in sales generated), through what they claim is networking skills
  2. Their income declined post 2008, and so they called on their network and dwindling number of customers again, and again and again
  3. The circle closed, and they need to find a job. Either they:
  1. Went asking their network for help, and the answer was a deafening silence
  2. They never asked their network in the first place, their question being “How do you ask for a job?”

Now they claim that they don’t have a network. Or that’s the obvious conclusion from their answers in the Job Interview. Yet, they claim to be great and accomplished networkers.

What has shocked me is the breadth and depth of skills of people who have dead cat bounce networks. From what you may have thought have been “active” networkers in sales, to less active types in accounting, etc. Yet those in the professions seems to have networks which in general have weathered the economic climate, and that they can still call on for help and assistance, or even work.

So, how do people think that they have an active network, and yet end up with a dead cat bounce network?

The first two issues to raise are fairly easy: what they used to “sell”; and hence secondly their attitude to networking.

How many times have we all heard the phrase from Dr Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, that “Givers Gain!” In fact, so successful is the statement, that its subject of an international copyright. Yet this simple truth about networking only comes to be found to be true when you ask a different question of your network: “I used to sell, now I want a job.”

Now back to the first issue: what they used to sell when networking. When someone thinks that they are networking and are in actual fact selling, how do they now sell themselves? I know as a Recruiter and CV Writer that the most difficult thing to do is to sell yourself, but if you have a great Personal Elevator Pitch, then employment is easily possible – even without an existing network.

The truth is that no one likes a desperate job seeker, and whether they are a good friend or associate, or even possibly a future employer, all desperate job seekers will be rejected. “Give Us A Job” never did and never will work, but then neither has door to door selling since the end of the 1970s. But that – unfortunately – doesn’t mean that people still don’t use the technique.

The problem I conclude in most cases is a false impression of what networking is. Hence Misner’s guide “Givers Gain”  works: in the good (more than sales) and the bad (job seeking) times. If you build up credit as someone who gives before taking, and always has or at least will know where to find the right answer, then when the job search need comes around, they will open their whole network to you. Probably like they have always done up to now, because of the attitude you have so far taken: trusted, open, giving.

However, if people in your network just look on you right now as the person who always sells, and never gives or introduces them to other interesting people, then how do you expect them to make a complete vision change when you go into job seeking mode? Secondly, even if they can do that, what impression will they give of you when introducing you to a potential employer: “Always pushing for the sale, always self centred.” Its not much of a recommendation, is it. Thirdly hence, who are they going to introduce you to? Its not going to be their most valuable contacts, but people who – like you – have treated them in the past like a disposable monthly sales target. Probably the same less than 10% of their network that they have introduced you to before.

Now lets address the second problem: You’re a job seeker and don’t know how to sell yourself. Firstly, accept that desperate job seekers never get employed – so the last thing that you want to do is “sell” yourself. The key strategy of successful job search is putting yourself ahead of the competition and closer to the hiring manager, while the key stages are:

  1. Know what you have: Skills, Qualifications, Experiences
  2. Know what you want to do next AND that the market is recruiting for it at present (50+ jobs). Position yourself accordingly
  3. Going into a live recruiting market, and deploying key techniques: job adverts, target companies; networking
  4. Job Interview
  5. Package negotiation

So, when as a job seeker you go networking, what are you doing instead of selling yourself? If you correctly understood networking, then pretty much what you were doing before: helping other people, and talking about business, with an agenda. Except this time, rather than selling something, you are undertaking research. On what? Introductions to people in companies who have a problem (that you can solve, and have proven STAR stories to show that).

So you are not looking for a job, you are looking to speak to people in the X industry who have Y problem. You want to talk to them about your experiences in solving similar problems, and how they see the best route to their solution. In other words, you are acting like a business person – solving problems; and not a job seeker – selling yourself.

Of course, if you had addressed networking correctly from day1 of engaging your network, this process would be almost instant. But even without a network, or where you have now found that you have a dead cat bounce network, you can make this strategy work for you in less than a month to get employed. If you target companies that you know have a need for your solution and that, having done some research on their culture and prospects, are those that you want to work for, then no and low competition jobs that you would never see o a jobs board or in a newspaper suddenly appear before you.

Networking isn’t difficult, its just talking to people and helping them. You can sue it for lots of things, from business issues such as selling to finding suppliers, to personal issues such as finding recommended professionals to getting your next job, quickly, easily and often with o competition. But your attitude to networking will determine how quickly, when needing to ask a different question of it, it will react. If you get no response or the wrong response, that’s the first signs of a dead cat bounce network. Better to build with the right attitude in the first place – Givers Gain – than have to spend time building a new network each time when you want to ask a different question. Like, finding your next job.

Good Luck!
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