How to build your personal network with follow up skills

The job market is very competitive and now a days it is all about who you know, not what you know. Connections are key in landing the career of your dreams, but it takes hard work to get there. I know many other professionals would agree with me, including Brad Lomenick, about how difficult it is to build your network. Lomenick gives his readers advice in his blog post, “The Skill of the Follow up,” about how to seal the deal with potential employers.

By taking it a step further, I encourage all job seekers to follow up with any professional they meet that is connected to their field, not just your potential manager or boss. Like I said above the key to landing a job is connections and the bigger your network, the better your chances are to be discovered. Here is some advice I have gathered from Lomenick, other professionals and my personal experience on how to follow up:

1)   Be persistent

I have been told you can never be too persistent. Don’t be afraid to send another email, or make another phone call when you do not get a reply. I have friends who got their jobs because they were so persistently annoying that their employer gave them an interview just to shut them up!

2)   Be different

Don’t send out a general email, the employer will move it straight to the trash if they feel like it was a mass sent email. Make your words stand out and show that you care about and want to be apart of the organization.

3)   Be clear

Make it easy for them to respond and set a date for when you want a response or a favor fulfilled. Urgency will help your connection know when to get back to you, or do what you are asking of them.

4)   Make a personal connection

Try to play off of the first meeting you had with your connection. If you guys connected over sports or a hobby, mention that in the email. This will help the employer remember you, which is a really good thing. Since employers deal with SO many people it is hard to remember everyone they talk to. Just being remembered puts you ahead of your competitors.

5)  Say Thank You (and make it genuine)

Don’t forget to thank them for their time. Even if things don’t work out, you never know when you may see that person again. They could be your future boss or fellow employee so make sure that you do not ruin relationships.

If you really want to show off, send your connection a personal hand written note saying thank you. You will impress them with your professional and personal follow up skills.

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How athletes can improve poor social media skills

Professional athletes are now all over Twitter and Facebook, displaying their thoughts and day-to-day activities to the world. Athletes are always appearing in headlines and new stories. With so much media exposure, pro athletes should have some training in social media and responding to the public because athletes often get themselves into trouble by making inappropriate comments. Everyday I am amazed at the lack of professionalism athlete’s display in public.

Each athlete represents a brand or an organization and it is their job to make their organization look good. Too often athletes misuse social media tools like Twitter. The Pro Sports Communications blog explains the common mistakes that athletes make on social media. Here are big mistakes that I agree with:

Lack of social media education

Social media should be approached with a plan and purpose when used by anyone, especially athletes. For an athlete, social media tools should be used to focus on things like increasing your fan base, representing your brand and being a role model.

Bad Language

I understand that locker room talk is not necessarily clean because you are with your friends, but make sure that it does not carry over into your social media posts. Swear words are not appealing to all viewers, so keep it exclusive to conversations with the homies. Also check grammar, we want to know that jocks have brains too.

Focusing on the haters, not the supportive fans

There are no benefits from getting into Twitter battles with haters. You have more supportive fans anyways, so interact with them and ignore the negative comments.

Forgetting to represent your brand

When you become a professional athlete you are no longer representing yourself, you are representing your team and your organization. So don’t embarrass yourself, or your brand with social media mistakes.

My advice, get social media training. As a freshman college soccer player I was clueless about the importance of representation. I am a University of Oregon athlete and the community recognizes me as representing Oregon. Thankfully, early on I was taught how answer to the media and how to represent Oregon. Now I am careful what I post on the Internet because I am part of something bigger than just myself. Just like on social media, I am aware that I a may be recognized when I am out in the community, so I have to carry myself responsibly and respectfully at all times.

Gisele speaks too much of her mind

The Super Bowl has come and gone and it is now old news. Basketball season has taken over and Baseball season is even receiving some spotlight time, but one PR mishap remains…Gisele Bundchen’s bold and borderline inappropriate comment. After the New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants, Gisele, the wife of Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady, complained “My husband cannot throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.”

I personally like coming across stories like this because I have experience participating in a competitive college sport and I hear fans and onlookers make comments about the game all the time. In defense of Gisele, let me start by saying that she may have made a socially unacceptable and rude comment, but she was surrounded by her friends and she did not think that she was being publicly recorded. We have friends so we can talk openly and say whatever we want, no matter how cocky it sounds.

On the other hand, who is Gisele to talk? I don’t recall her becoming famous for being a professional athlete. She does not seem to know the importance of having teammates in a team sport. What people do not understand when they support a loved one in a sport is that they are always biased. I hate to say it, but everyone is. If you asked my parents you would hear mostly great things about me, while I am confident my coach would also say good things about me, she would also be realistic, knowing that I could be better if I worked on my weaknesses. Fans focus on the players they are personally connected to and always see them in a better light. What they often miss is that players would not be as successful as they are without their teammates. Brady is a stud, but no matter how good you are, you need your team to succeed when you participate in team sports.

I still strongly believe that MVP awards are important to recognize key players and I understand that games are often won because one player steps up and puts in the extra work to get the winning touchdown, but never, ever should that player take all the credit.

My advice to Gisele, say whatever you please, just make sure you are not being watched by outside sources. Potentially being the most famous supermodel in the world and being married to an all-star NFL quarterback, she needs to realize that eyes and ears are always on her. She chose her lifestyle and with it comes sacrifices like never being able to publicly speak your mind. Every career path has its pro and cons.

Ryan Braun’s PR mishap

It’s that time of year again, baseball season! As the weather slowly begins to warm up and the sun tries to peak through the clouds, baseball players start reporting to spring training. Baseball did not intrigue me when I was younger. Now, attending the University of Oregon has presented me with the opportunity to watch some college baseball games and I must admit, I truly enjoy the game. It took me most of my adolescent life to understand the mechanics, mental toughness and skill required to excel in baseball, but now I respect the players participating in such a skilled sport.

The sport may be exhilarating to watch, but some of the players are not always as enjoyable to listen to. Ryan Braun is a recent athlete that has lost my respect because of his unprofessional behavior. If you do not know the story, Braun plays outfield for the Milwaukee Brewers and failed a urine test in the beginning of October. The results of the drug test displayed extremely high levels of testosterone, which resulted in a punishment of a 50-game suspension for Braun starting in the 2012 season.

Braun challenged his drug test and provided enough evidence to overturn his suspension. He proved his innocence by showing that his statistics have not changed since he entered the professional level and that the test displayed levels of testosterone exceedingly higher than any other test in MLB drug testing history. The fact that the urine sample also sat in the collector’s house for two days also played in Braun’s favor. Braun presented himself as a victim to the public and the league and won his case with sufficient evidence.

But winning his case wasn’t good enough. Braun should have shut his mouth right when he was cleared to play, instead he took his situation a step further and extended the story by wrongly accusing the man who collected his urine, Dino Laurenzi Jr. If you were wrongly accused and greatly inconvenienced, why would you return the favor to someone else? A better-advised athlete would have known better. Here is my future advice to Braun and his PR adviser:

1) Stop while you are ahead (that should be obvious)!

2) Drop the issue once it is settled.

3) Don’t blame someone else; instead suggest refinements within the system.

 

Braun is a great player, but he could have carried himself better in this situation. It sucks, as an athlete, to be punished after you have worked so hard, but even if you are innocent, you should never personally attack others involved. You may be right about your accusation, but if you are not, you could end up really hurting someone’s reputation and making yourself look really bad.