Who Would Be Happy to Sing Your Praises?

What do you offer your employers, clients, and other stakeholders that makes a difference to them? Who else can spell out that difference for you?

It may come as a relief to you as an introvert that you don’t have to be the only one tooting your horn. In fact, whether you’re looking for a job or for more clients, there’s nothing like your bosses, colleagues, and clients singing your praises. Of course, don’t be shy about providing them with a song sheet.

“There are fifty people applying for a job,” hypothesizes international marketing guru Seth Godin in a recent blog post. He continues, “Forty nine have great credentials and beautifully standard layouts on their résumés. One résumé was hand delivered to the CEO by his best friend, together with a glowing recommendation about a project the applicant did for the friend’s non-profit. Who gets the interview?”

Who can put in a good word for you?
Who is the equivalent of the CEO’s best friend in your life? Do you know? If you’re an introvert, you’re probably inclined to research, so dig around for information to figure it out. Do your homework on social networks like LinkedIn. You’ve probably built lasting relationships with people who would be happy lend their support by putting in a good word for you with that CEO, introducing you to valuable connectors, and/or providing you with market intelligence. Thoughtfully craft e-mails to ask people in your network for their assistance.

You’re not begging
If asking for assistance sounds daunting, you’re not alone. I often hear: “I don’t want to seem like I’m begging.” One way to counter that is to put yourself in other person’s shoes. If someone in your circle asks you for introductions to help her find a job, is it a big deal for you? Think of all the people you’ve helped throughout your career. (If you haven’t helped many, consider how you’ll be more generous from now on.) Why not give your friends the opportunity to help you? In fact, it’s a good idea to contact colleagues in your field who are gainfully employed. They may be getting calls from recruiters and could easily pass along your name.

Referral etiquette
Now for a few tips about the etiquette of referrals and other types of business introductions. Please chime in if you’d like to add some tips of your own.

  1. Never give your networking buddies more work than is necessary. For example, if an introduction is by e-mail, don’t send the connector to a Web site to obtain your bio. Provide all of the relevant information that she would need in one succinct e-mail that she can easily forward. As a corollary to this tip, Martha Finney, co-author of Unlock the Hidden Job Market, says in her recent blog post titled “Land on Your Feet after a Layoff”: “Make it convenient for people to meet with you.”
  2. Tell people who are willing to make introductions for you how you want to be positioned. Do you want to be known for your technical expertise? Your negotiating skills? Your ability to write about complex topics in plain English?
  3. Make the connector look good. By referring you, he is vouching for you, so put your best foot forward—for both of you. Follow up quickly and professionally with the person he’s introducing you to, who may be expecting to hear from you. 
  4. Don’t forget to follow up with the connector and let him know the outcome of the introduction he’s made.
  5. Put the connector’s name in the subject line of your e-mail to help get your new contact’s attention.
  6. Include a signature line with your full name, professional title, and contact information at the end of your e-mails. Sure beats an e-mail just signed off cryptically by someone named Lee.

Remember that you don’t have to toot your horn alone. Welcoming other people to sing your praises and to introduce you to their colleagues is a valuable part of your career advancement strategy whether you’re looking for a job or building your business. If you’re an introvert, it’s also an efficient use of your social energy. While it may be uncomfortable to ask, doing so can multiply your effectiveness at getting to your equivalent of that CEO’s friend—and ultimately landing that job—in this competitive marketplace.

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