‘JT & Dale Talk Jobs’ is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country and can be found at JTandDale.com.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m tired of being nice! I’ve been told attitude and personality are the keys to networking your way to a new job. Well, I’ve been syrupy sweet at every event, bought coffee and complimented to the high heavens. I’ve got nothing to show for six months of nonstop brown-nosing. — Angela
J.T.: I’m sure you’re not going to like my reaction: Your problem is you see being nice as a chore. Most communication is nonverbal, including facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. My guess is, in spite of your efforts to be nice, the majority of people feel you aren’t sincere.
Dale: Good point. There’s “nice,” and then there’s “nice-ish.”
J.T.: What I’d recommend is working toward networking quality, not quantity. Identify people you admire and sincerely want to get to know better. That way, your networking efforts will feel less like a chore and more like an exciting opportunity, and your results will reflect that change of mindset.
Dale: I’m sure that’s right, but even if you are genuinely charming, you still have to learn to “ask for the sale.” In job-search terms, this is rarely “Do you know of any good jobs?” Instead, you develop a list of target companies and ask your new contacts if they know anyone who works for those organizations. That target list will be companies you admire, so J.T.’s logic still applies — the meetings should be energizing, and your faux enthusiasm will become genuine, as will the quality of your leads.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.
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