AZ asks: How do I network?

AZ asks:  How do I network?Abby Donnelly is a partner and Executive Coach with Training & Development Solutions (TDS), a Sandler Training® franchise servicing the Triad. They are experts at improving sales and leadership performance. Abby has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 500 to boutique professional firms. Her greatest strength is as a Trusted Advisor to senior leaders at small and medium-sized companies. She brings a keen intuitive ability to listen and understand the complex challenges facing leaders today, and the capability to provide fresh perspective, and a path for continual improvement. Abby’s clients gain greater self-awareness and a better understanding of how to influence the organizational dynamics, resulting in accelerated professional and business success.

Abby is the author of Networking Works!, a user-friendly workbook for building an ongoing stream of qualified referrals. Abby is a graduate of SUNY Albany and University of Florida with a Master of Statistics. She has been featured in the Triad Business Journal and is a renowned Triad area speaker on improving performance. She was recently recognized as a speaker for Vistage International, providing her expertise to help CEO’s thrive. Abby has served in leadership roles in Rotary, Leadership Greensboro and continues to support those and other non-profits in the region. Abby created and led two Sandler Training Fundraisers, raising over $110,000 to eradicate polio. The event was endorsed by Bill Gates, Sr. and recognized with a Rotary International 4 Avenues of Service Award.  She can be reached at

AZ asks:  I am about to be divorced and just starting back to work and I have not worked in 10 years.  How would you suggest I start figuring out what jobs are available?

Dear Just starting back:  Before you begin figuring out what jobs are available, sit down with a blank sheet of paper and map out your strengths, your key professional experiences and accomplishments, and the kinds of things you are passionate about. Your job search needs to begin with a solid look at those.

  1. Strengths: What are you particularly good at? What do you do better, faster, easier than others? What comes naturally to you? What skills have you developed over time? This includes skills managing your household and family life. If you can’t come up with many, and many struggle to do so, ask a few family members or friends you trust to tell you what they see. We are often our worst critics and take our strengths for granted, minimizing their value.
  2. Experiences and accomplishments: What productive, positive things have you learned through the experience of managing your household and family life? From going through a divorce? How might those learnings serve you in a workplace setting? What have you accomplished that can be reapplied in a professional setting that you are particularly proud of?
  3. Passions: What really interests you? What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning, looking forward to another day? What would you do for free? Once you’ve identified that, dig a little deeper to discover specifically why. For example, if you are passionate about cooking meals for your family, why? Is it because you love creating a new, innovative or nutritious meal that your family will love; or you are passionate about the process of following a recipe and producing an end product. Your specific passions will provide indicators for the kinds of things you may want to incorporate into your worklife.

AZ asks:  What do I do if I keep sending in my resume to online job  postings and don’t hear any reply.

You’re not likely to find a job sending resumes to online job postings. And you are not going to hear a reply. You need to get out and start networking. Only a small percent of people searching for a job will ever get it via online postings. A large majority will find it through networking.

AZ asks:  How do you network?

Networking is a strategic approach to building relationships for mutual gain. So to network, you’ve got to figure out who you want to know (targets for your search), and where you can meet them to begin that relationship building? Once you know that, preparation is critical. You’ve got to be crystal clear with a targeted two minute blurb about who you are and what kind of work you are interested in. Then ask for help. Begin with a request for input, or advice.  If you ask them to introduce you right away to their closest high ranking friend who could hire you, and to give you a rousing testimonial, they will likely resist. Their credibility is on the line. If instead, you ask them to give you pointers on how you might improve your chances of meeting that person or getting your resume in front of them, they might help with that first. Over time, you may build their confidence in you as the relationship progresses, and they might gladly introduce you with a glowing testimonial.

Often times, people searching for a job can come across as needy or desperate. It’s a red flag. Work on your attitude so you come across confident and optimistic — even if you are not feeling that way at the moment. In your search, try to avoid focusing on a specific role title. Instead, talk about your strengths, passions and accomplishments. Share the impact you’ve had on organizations and how you can reapply those same characteristics to other organizations to help them be more successful. You can learn more about networking in my book, Networking Works! available on Search Abby Donnelly.

AZ asks:  What is the best way to ask for  help in finding a job from friends and family?

The best way to ask for help from friends and family is to do your job search work diligently, and ask for their input and help along the way. Most of us are happy to help someone who is demonstrating their own commitment to be successful. Ask them: who else should you add to your target list? Where else can you go to meet your targets? Who might they introduce you to? How well are you messaging your strengths and passions?   You can also ask for support from family and friends. Tell them what you need and ask them to support you in it. If you need accountability to follow up on job leads, ask for that. If you need reinforcement and acknowledgment of your efforts, ask for that. You can also ask them to not do things if you don’t find them helpful.

AZ asks:  What does a coach do and should I hire one?

There are many different kinds of coaches available today. A coach is focused on facilitating the process to help you achieve your goals. A career coach will facilitate a job search process. Some will help you discern what you want to do, identify your strengths/passions and minimize your weaknesses and fear that’s holding you back, and then help you build and execute the plan to find and acquire a ‘good fit’ position. Others will coach you through writing a compelling resume, cover letter and presenting yourself effectively through the interview process. Because they are objective, they offer you the feedback you need to hear and help you overcome barriers that crop up — whether self induced or external. They also keep you disciplined and accountable to your job search.

For business professionals, a business coach, sales coach, executive coach, or life coach may be helpful. Each of those offer different areas of expertise, but all will require a personal and professional commitment on your part. If you think you may benefit from the services of a coach, ask yourself first if you are really ready to commit — to the investment of time, money and most importantly, self reflection that will be required to benefit from the coaching process. If you are not, do not hire a coach.

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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